How to Install Deck Lights on Vinyl Railing

Many homeowners install vinyl components on their decks, attracted by premade units and low-maintenance material.

Permanent Placement

Rope lights are waterproof and simple to install.Rope lights are waterproof and simple to install.
Rope lights, which are small bulbs encapsulated in waterproof, flexible vinyl tubing, are common decorative deck lighting that produces a warm glow. Rope light manufacturers include small, plastic clips with the package. These clips are screwed to the railing and the vinyl tubing is pressed into place. There are a few options for installing these lights on a vinyl railing. If the lights are a permanent fixture, attach clips to the railing with screws. If you do not want to mar the railing with holes, skip the clips and use cable ties securing the lights to the rails.

Step 1

Drill pilot holes in the vinyl railing where the clips will be installed. For best results, place the clips on the railing’s outer side slightly below the handrail area.

Step 2

Screw in the clips with one-half inch, self-drilling, stainless steel screws.

Step 3

Starting at one end, press the rope lights into the clips. The clips grasp the tubing, holding it firmly in place.

Temporary Placement

Step 1

Have a helper extend a section of the deck lights across the railing. For best results, place the string of lights on the railing’s outer side slightly below the handrail area.

Step 2

Loop a vinyl cable tie around the railing’s handrail portion and the string lights. Insert the cable tie end into the small zip box and pull securely. Continue tying the lights, section by section, as your helper extends the string down the railing.

Step 3

Clip any extra cable tie length with the scissors.

Step 4

Remove the installation by snipping the cable tie with scissors. Do not scratch the vinyl railing with the end of the scissors.

Things You Will Need

  • Rope lights or other string deck lighting
  • Light clips
  • Metal screws
  • Screw gun
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • ½-inch, self-drilling stainless steel screws. 4 needed
  • Vinyl, clear cable ties
  • Scissors

Tips

  • Rope and string lights are the most common decorative deck lighting products. These lights contain incandescent or light emitting diode bulbs that produce warm light at low-energy levels. The lights plug into any standard 15 amp, grounded, electrical outlet. Connect long extensions of lights together, as the rope lights come with a small extension plug on one end. Purchase these lights at any home improvement center or department store.
  • Before securing the lights to the railing, test the lights’ placement with a dry run. Have a helper hold the one end of the lights as you extend the lights along the railing. Test for adequate length and positioning before attaching the lights.

Warnings

  • Never use an extension cord for outdoor use unless the cord is specifically labeled for outdoor use.
  • Avoid draping lights or extension cords across walkways to prevent accidental falls.
  • To prevent corrosion or staining of the vinyl railing, do not use the screws that come with the rope light clips. Use only stainless steel screws.

About the Author

Rebecca Mecomber, a former radio broadcaster, has been a professional blogger and writer since 2006. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," Salon.com and several other publications, covering topics such as Federal Trade Commission policy and media regulations, blogging, home improvement and New York travel.