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How to Install Christmas Lights on a Deck Railing

Adrianna Beech
Save the hassle and plan first.

During a hectic holiday season, there's nothing more annoying than having to unwrap a string of lights because you didn't wind it properly the first time. We tend to hurry on what we think are mundane tasks, but if you take just a moment to plan, you'll only have to do it once. Then you can get on to the really fun stuff, like maneuvering your way through those crowded stores.

To LED or Not to LED

When you are standing in the holiday aisle staring at a sea of choices, the main consideration is the battle between your investment and the return you will receive on your power bill in January. The sticker price of LED strands can be a little shocking, but they use a 10th of the power, and can last for many years longer than incandescents. LEDs are getting better and better, and the variety of colors, shapes and sizes continues to grow.


If you are winding your lights around the rail, you won't need a lot of tacking to hold it in place. If you are hanging them in a straight row, however, you need to anchor them. Are you going to put these lights up the same way year after year? If so, hammer in small, inconspicuous nails that can be left there permanently. If holes in your rail make you cringe, you can find fabric and sticker applications in the holiday aisle.

Hunt and Gather

Save yourself from running all over trying to find things, and start off right with everything you need right in front of you. You need your lights, a measuring tape, hammer, nails or adhesive hooks, a trash bag and any other accessories you plan to incorporate. Once it's all present and accounted for, you can get decorating done in an efficient manner.

It's Go Time

Measure the distance of the rail and double check that you have enough lights. You may have to wrap or drape them more tightly so that you don't come up short. Locate your power outlet, and start your strands at the opposite end for a nice clean edge. Starting plug side first is a redo waiting to happen. If you are using nails or hooks, try to space them evenly and as unobtrusively as possible. Once you've finished, step back a few feet and check for lopsided spots.