Deck the House: How to Hang Outdoor Holiday Lights

by Team HomeServe
man with santa hat decorating house outdoor carport with christmas string lights

Nothing feels quite as festive as a neighborhood bedecked with lights. Exterior lights may look magical, but they can be a real headache to hang without the right knowledge. If your kids are begging you to hang outdoor lights this holiday season, you may be wondering how to achieve the perfect holiday lighting installation without damaging your home or spending a fortune.

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Below, you can find out how to hang lights outside in any location, plus some tips on powering your festive display.

What's the Best Way to Hang Holiday Lights on Your House?

There are many holiday lighting installation techniques, and the one you should choose depends on the type of lights you have, where you want to hang them and the material you want to attach them to. Although many homeowners use nails as a cheap way to hang holiday lights, this can damage your property. Staple guns and hot glue are alternatives to nails, but they take a lot of time to remove when the holidays are over.

Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor light installation techniques that are easy to remove and won’t damage your home.

Hanging Lights on Siding

Siding hooks are the quickest and best way to hang string lights on siding. These hooks click firmly into place when you insert them under one of the siding panels, and the hook section holds the light string securely.

Another option for hanging light displays on vinyl or metal siding is to use suction cups with hooks attached. You'll need to clean the siding where you want to place the cup thoroughly beforehand because any grime will prevent it from sticking properly. Once you've stuck the cup to the siding, leave it for at least 24 hours before hanging your lights to allow it to grip more firmly.

Hanging Lights Without Nails

There are a few simple and inexpensive ways to hang holiday lights without nails and avoid damaging your home. The easiest way to hang light strands outside is to drape them over existing anchor points, such as fence posts or in tree branches. However, this won't work if you expect very windy weather or don't have an outdoor area suitable for draping.

In this situation, you could use nail-free plastic hooks to hang strings of lights. Command hooks are another good option if your lights aren't too heavy and you want to hang them on a vertical surface. These hooks have a sticky strip on the back that grips the wall and doesn't leave marks or damage. You can easily remove the hooks when the holidays are over by pulling the strip tags downwards to release the grip.

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Hanging Lights on the Roof

You should never make holes in your roofing materials to hang lights on your roof, no matter how small. Any hole in your tiles or shingle could cause a leak. Instead, it's best to use clips and hooks specially designed for decorating roofs with lights. There are plenty of roof clip types available, including those that attach securely to each bulb for a uniform appearance. You can also buy specialized clips for attaching lights along your roof peak.

Holiday lighting installation on your roof requires working at height, which can be dangerous. You should always have another person to watch out for hazards and hold the ladder steady while you work. Never walk on a roof when installing holiday lights. Certain medical conditions can make holiday lighting installation on your roof more hazardous because they increase the likelihood of falls. If you're unsure about your ability to install roof lights, it's far safer to book a professional to do it for you.

How Do You Wire Outdoor Holiday Lights?

One of the easiest ways to power your outdoor lights is to plug them into existing outlets outside your home. If you have external outlets, plan your lighting installation to coincide with the outlet locations.

However, many homes don't have any available outdoor power sources. In this case, you can plug your holiday lights into an internal outlet using an extension cable. You may also be able to connect them to an external light fixture. Ensure that any cables and sockets you use are waterproof and designed specifically for outdoor use.

Battery-operated or solar holiday lights are an affordable alternative to plug-in lights if you don't want the hassle of dealing with outdoor cables. Bear in mind that most battery-operated holiday lights are meant to be used indoors, so take care to choose waterproof models approved for outdoor use. Solar lights are powered by panels that convert sunlight into electricity stored in an internal battery and come with the advantage of costing nothing in energy. However, they need strong, regular sunlight to operate, which could be an issue if your area doesn't get much sun in the winter.