Get the party started this summer with outdoor rope lights! I'm sharing my tips and tricks for hanging rope lights on the underside of your deck railing to give your outdoor space instant ambiance!
It's time to hose down the patio set, get the outdoor cushions out of storage, and have ourselves a barbecue on the deck! Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, but the sun goes down far too early in May.
This year, we're keeping the party going into the night by installing rope lights under our deck railing. The ambient glow will illuminate the perimeter and give the space a festive atmosphere with color-changing LEDs!
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One of the first things we did when we bought our house was replace the rotting deck with one that was more than twice the size. It has an outdoor dining area in the middle...
But once the sun dips behind our huge magnolia tree, the deck is hidden in shade. One lone light fixture on the wall barely provides enough light to eat at the table, but doesn't reach to the far corners of the deck.
Luckily, the good people over at Batteries Plus Bulbs are here to help! May is National Home Improvement Month, and they've got everything you need to give your home the lighting and power it requires.
Why I chose rope lights over string lights
We had string lights over our backyard firepit area for a little while. But we quickly discovered that the bulbs shatter when they fill with rain water and bump into a branch! Plus, a squirrel chewed through the cord and gnawed a bulb right off, shorting out the entire strand.
These LED outdoor rope lights are the ideal lighting solution for my deck. Instead of individual bulbs, it has a continuous string of LEDs encased in a rubbery waterproof plastic. It's thin enough to fit under the deck railing, and doesn't sag or droop like string lights.
The kit comes with a remote control that can be used to change the color of the lights to suit the mood and season. From red/white/blue for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, to red/green/blue for Christmas, and white for simple ambient light.
It took the base unit with 16 feet of lights, plus two expansion kits to wrap around the entire deck and down the stairs. Each box comes with the mounting hardware required to attach it to the railing.
If you're looking for simple white outdoor rope lights, I would go with this cheaper option. No power outlet nearby? Try these solar rope lights instead! These adhesive clips would make it easy to attach to the underside of your deck railing.
How to Install Rope Lights on a Deck Railing
Installation was pretty straightforward. I started the screws in the bracket holes to make it easier to drill upside down without losing them in the grass below. The overhang was just wide enough to attach the brackets underneath.
Once the mounting hardware is in place, the outdoor rope lights pop right in. The next bracket should be about 18" away so the lights don't sag.
Connecting additional light strips is easy! Just remove the cap from one end, insert it into the other, and tighten the ring around the junction.
Arranging the power bricks at the beginning and end of each rope light segment took a bit of trial and error. I didn't want to lose the effect of a solid string of lights, but there's almost a two foot gap between the end of one string and the beginning of the next.
I decided to stack the two power bricks together so that the line of lights was as close to uninterrupted as I could get. They're hidden under the railing, so you only see them when you're sitting at eye level.
The corners posed another challenge. These outdoor rope lights aren't flexible enough to make a tight 90 degree turn. I installed a bracket across the corner and used it to simply hold the curve of the lights in place rather than click it fully into the hardware.
Where the deck railing meets the stairs down to the backyard, I played around with it until I found a curve that worked well, and installed the brackets accordingly.
Testing the LED rope lights
I was excited for nightfall to arrive so I could get the full effect of the lights. The wait was totally worth it!
It turned out exactly as I envisioned! The lights give the perimeter of the deck the perfect glow, and changing the color changes the mood of the space.