Tips for Planning Deck Lighting

Tips for Planning Deck Lighting

A deck can be a wonderful leisure and entertainment space during the day. But to extend its usefulness into the nighttime hours, you will need some well planned out lighting. Picking the right type of lighting for your deck and installing it properly takes planning. But when it’s done well, you are rewarded with a great space you can enjoy both day and night.

Why You Need to Plan Out Deck Lighting

A great deck is an amazing asset to any home. It lets you bring the indoors outside, where you can enjoy the weather, the views, and everything nature has to offer. But if your deck isn’t properly lit, you are missing out on half of its usefulness.

A deck doesn’t just have to be for daytime leisure or parties. What if that barbecue you planned for the afternoon could stretch well past sundown? What if you could make your own private getaway for you and your family on a warm summer night? With proper planning and installation, all of this becomes possible. A well lit deck becomes a focal point of activity during good weather. And even when it’s too cold or wet to go outside, your well lit deck will be a beautiful addition to the nighttime appearance of your home.

Tips for Planning Deck Lighting [infographic]

Where to Begin With Deck Lighting

So you’ve decided you want to light up your deck. That’s a great decision. You’re ready to enjoy a whole new space for your home. But where do you begin? The professionals at Night Vision Outdoor Lighting have some suggestion on how to start.

The first thing you want to do is to think about the space you will be lighting and how you plan to use it. It is important that your lighting plan takes care of a few major necessities:

  • Safety. If you are going to be using your deck at night, you need to be sure that you have enough lighting in the right places to keep people from injuring themselves. Think about stairs, rails, and other obstacles that absolutely must be lit up at night.
  • Utility. The whole point of lighting up your deck is so that you can use it, right? Think about how you plan to use the space and where you will need the most light to do the things you want to do. Think about cooking areas, sitting areas, or even somewhere you might want to be able to read at night.
  • Ambience. If you want to create a top-notch space suited to your unique needs, you’ll have to think about the ambience you want to create. Is this mostly a party space, or is it a quiet place to relax and watch fireflies? This doesn’t mean that you have to choose one use for your deck and stick with it. But giving some thought to the overall ambience you want will help guide your choices later on.

The next thing you will do, is start to think about the different kind of lighting you can choose from. This is where the above considerations come into play. If you have really thought about your answers to the above concerns, this next step should be a cakewalk.

Types of Deck Lighting

There are three main types of lighting unique to decks. In addition to that, the full range of outdoor lighting options are also available. To keep things simple, we will start with the lighting options unique to a deck.

Deck Post Cap Lighting

The first type of lighting option is deck post cap lighting. These are decorative caps that you can add to the posts in your deck railing. They range from the ornamental to the utilitarian, and they provide a great way to incorporate some light into your deck. They also help provide shape and outline to your deck. You can choose to light every post, every other post, or only some key posts. As long as you keep in mind safety, utility, and ambience, you can be sure that you are installing just the right amount of deck post cap lighting for you individual needs.

Deck Rail Lights

The next type of deck lighting option is deck rail lights. These are basically low-voltage, side mounted sconces that provide downward light along an individual railing post. These can be a great complement to decorative post caps, whether they are lit or unlit. They are also a great way to add extra light to your deck without adding too much glare. Their typically downward pointed light is perfect for lighting up your deck without creating unwanted light pollution, too.

Stair and Step Lights

The third type of lighting that is often used in decks is stair and step lights. These are small recessed lights that are placed in steps to help guide people and provide extra light. These lights provide an important safety function, making it easy to walk up steps on the darkest of nights. When planned out and placed properly, they can also give the impression of little spots of light around your deck, almost like twinkling stars. With this kind of lights, the light fixture is hidden and you only see the light. That makes them a great option for adding some sparkle without overloading your deck with lighting fixtures.

Chances are your design will include all three of these types of lighting. Lighting on your posts can provide shape and edges to your deck. Rail lighting can add extra light, which is usefull, without being overpowering. And stair and step lights put safety first, but provide a wonderful sparkle, too.

Color Temperature and Deck Lighting Ambience

We’ve talked about it in some of our other blog posts, but it bears repeating. When thinking about modern LED lights, one of your important choices is color temperature.

Color temperature is a measure of how warm and yellow your light is versus how cool and bluish or white your light is. Outdoor LEDs span the range of warmth, from candle light red to moonlight blue, and everything in between.

In general, a good place to start with any outdoor lighting is with a type of light that used to be called “soft white”. To get technical, this type of light is around 2700-3000K. That measure should be noted on the packaging of any bulb you might purchase. This provides a warm and inviting glow that is easy on the eyes. It’s calming and doesn’t break up the relaxed feeling of a warm summer evening.

If you are going for a more romantic ambience, you could go with even warmer lighting. Lighting in the 1900K range mimics the color of candlelight. Installing this type of lighting will keep the mood super relaxed and is great for creating a little personal getaway. This type of extra warm lighting is also great for classy dinner parties. It’s not too bright, more like the lighting you would have in a fancy restaurant.

If you plan on using your space for big parties, lots of outdoor cooking, or other intense activities, you might consider a whiter light. Color temperatures in the 4800-6000K range are more like daytime sunlight. These will give you a lively feel that pushes away the night and may make you feel more awake. It’s great for creating a little bit of daylight to carry the party into the night.

Artificial Moonlight for Your Deck

Another option for color temperature is to mimic the color of moonlight. If you’re doing that, you may also need to think about where the light is coming from. Typically, artificial moonlight is produced by cool bluish lights placed high up in trees or other structures. The light shines down and creates an even wash over your space. If you’re using this type of lighting, you may not need much deck specific lighting. Instead, the general wash of artificial moonlight will illuminate your deck like a clear night under a full moon.

This is just one way in which you can augment your deck lighting with other sources of outdoor lighting. If you are also lighting up the facade of your home, a nearby pool area,  or the landscaping in your backyard, you may not need as much light on the deck itself. A common mistake in outdoor lighting is providing too much light. Go back to the basics, thinking about safety, utility, and ambience. Ask yourself how much lighting you really need to achieve those goals.

Getting Help from the Pros

Whenever you are planning outdoor lighting, a little help from the professionals never hurts. You should take the time to think about your lighting needs and wants. But when you’re ready to take the leap and begin your project, you know where to turn. Contact the helpful experts at Night Vision Outdoor Lighting. Our friendly designers and installers will work with you to create the perfect outdoor lighting plan for you. No two homeowners are alike, and no two lighting plans are alike. So get started with Night Vision Outdoor Lighting and bring your vision to life.