10 Mistakes To Avoid When Lighting Your Deck

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:05 pm

The terrace is an essential asset in a garden, which must be highlighted. Mainly used during the summer season, it must benefit from outdoor lighting that is both efficient and adapted to the use of the outdoor space, all in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Follow our advice to avoid the ten most common mistakes when it comes to patio lighting, so you don’t make a mistake when choosing and installing outdoor lighting.

Not Anticipating The Lighting Of Your Terrace Beforehand

10 Mistakes To Avoid When Lighting Your Deck

10 erreurs à éviter dans l'éclairage de sa terrasse

Deck lighting should be considered before building or renovating the outdoor space. And for good reason, it is mainly used during the summer season when the sun is at its maximum and summer evenings are conducive to barbecues with friends. It is therefore necessary to anticipate the installation of the lighting and the choice of future fixtures so that the electrical installation (which also includes trenches, outlets, switches, etc.) blends perfectly with the decor.

It is also important to keep in mind that the outdoor lighting fixtures must be in harmony with the garden furniture and be strategically oriented to provide sufficient light for a dining area or outdoor kitchen while offering a subdued and friendly atmosphere. It is also important to budget for this part of the work so that you can make concessions or find more financially advantageous solutions.

Leaving Safety Aside

Outdoor lighting also means safety. Like any electrical installation, artificial lighting can present risks that should be taken into account before starting any work. In other words, it is imperative to choose suitable locations to fix (if it is a suspension or a wall lamp), to plant (concerning the stakes or the luminous torches), to embed (for the spotlights and the Leds) or to connect the outdoor lights. This is especially true since natural elements such as wind, sun or rain can damage light sources and electrical connections. Depending on the location of the light fixtures, the bulbs will have a protection rating of at least 44 and up to 69.

To ensure optimal safety on a terrace, paths, walkways, stairs or risers must also be well lit to avoid any risk of accident, especially if there are children. As for the sockets, it is important to make sure that they are well placed and that each connection is adapted both to the appliance and to the length of the wire. If possible, install a centralized lighting system to be turned off as soon as you leave the terrace to prevent any risk of short-circuit or fire.

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Forget The Primary Nature Of The Terrace

Lighting your terrace as you would light a room in your house is a very bad idea! Just because you’ve recreated an outdoor living room or an outdoor dining room doesn’t mean you should simply transpose the lighting of your interior to your patio. First and foremost, the future light sources should be designed according to the existing elements of the patio or those that will be built on it. For example, a dining area will need to be lit more with a ceiling light hanging from an awning or with several floor lamps. An outdoor living room is used for relaxing, reading a book or chatting with friends, so it needs less light and more subdued lighting. Similarly, if the children have a play area, it will need to be lit accordingly and meet safety standards. It is also important to do some simulations before starting the work or renovating the terrace. This allows you to verify the ceiling height, the required dimensions for the lighting fixtures (or maximum) and the necessary electrical connections before going in search of the lighting fixtures in question.

Not Adapting The Lighting To Your Lifestyle

Lighting should not only illuminate a space or a room. It must above all be functional. To do this, it is necessary that the light sources are perfectly adapted to the use that the members of the household have of the space. On a terrace, it is the same thing. Depending on the living habits and the use of a patio or a veranda, it is necessary to find an adequate luminosity that will create the right atmosphere. The kitchen has an important place outside? We bet on portable lighting, sconces or spotlights located above a work surface. Is lazing around in the summertime the order of the day? We prefer designer table lamps or warm accent lamps. You like to organize barbecues and receive friends around a good meal during the summer evenings? We install a ceiling light above the dining table, garlands of lights and lanterns for a bucolic atmosphere.

Over-lighting A Deck

The terrace should not be seen as a simple extension of the home. It is a place in its own right in which one should feel good and which should not forget to be warm. If the lighting is too pronounced, it is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, a cold and mineral luminosity gives an austere atmosphere in which the guests will not feel at ease. We therefore avoid all light sources that are too dazzling such as spotlights or neon lights. We banish direct and white light in favor of soft, subdued and indirect lighting and especially we avoid dazzling our guests around the dining table by favoring wall lamps. As much as possible, it is better to multiply the light sources to create a cosy atmosphere – without overloading the space and saturating the electrical installation – than to minimize the lights by choosing them more powerful.

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Not Having Enough Light Power

If you should not light your terrace too much, you should not light it too little either. It is therefore important to check the number of lumens needed according to the surface area of the terrace but also the loss of light. For example, if the outdoor space is enclosed or has an awning, the light will be stronger than if the terrace is located outdoors. One tip is to choose fixtures made of glass or an openwork material since they diffuse light well.

Don’t Have Mood Lighting

In addition to lighting for purely practical purposes such as the dining area or reading area, it is important to create a unique atmosphere on a terrace. To do this, you must not neglect ambient lighting. Ambient lighting provides additional brightness, which is not necessary in terms of light, but which can totally transform the atmosphere of an outdoor space. Some ideas for mood lighting: hang colored paper lanterns, place lanterns here and there around the terrace, hang a string of lights in a tree branch or subtly light shrubs or flowers with LED spotlights or torches hidden in the foliage. The more you highlight the specificities of your terrace, the more it will be embellished.

Install Only One Light Source On The Terrace

This is one of the worst mistakes in outdoor lighting. From a functional and aesthetic point of view, it is essential to vary as much as possible the models of lights installed on the terrace. On the one hand, this diversity allows you to create a real atmosphere according to the style of the lights and furniture, on the other hand the space will be better lit, and finally there will be much less chance of getting bored because it will be enough to replace a lamp by another. For small budgets, we think aesthetics before price. And do not hesitate to ask for quotes before committing yourself; it is also important not to skimp on the quality of the lighting. But if you can’t afford a beautiful designer light fixture, it’s better to buy three small ones that will recreate the cocooning setting you’re looking for. And there’s no shortage of choice! Wall lights, hanging lights, spotlights, LEDs, ceiling lights, floor lamps, table lamps, electric candles, floor lamps… There is something for every taste and every budget.

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Making A Mistake When Choosing Lighting Fixtures

Each light fixture has its own style and use. Here’s how to find your way around to avoid making a mistake. You need to find the models that best match the style of your deck. To emphasize the perimeter of a terrace, we embed spotlights or ribbons of LEDs, for an eco-friendly and design outdoor space we bet on solar energy terminals or round lamps to be placed on the ground, while to give a spirit guinguette to a terrace we adopt garlands of light. There are also more unusual lights such as XXL lamps, luminous flowerpots or fluorescent statues, which find their place in a contemporary, pop and offbeat space.

Not Being Able To Dim The Light

Ideally, the most important light sources should be equipped with a dimmer. The goal? To be able to influence the light intensity throughout the evening and throughout the seasons. Depending on the weather and the layout of the terrace, this can be very useful. If it’s too dark, just think about adding more natural lighting like candles or candle holders instead of turning on several lights at the same time.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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