How to Hang String Lights on a Patio


String lights can be one of the easiest ways to add cozy ambiance and lighting to your outdoor patio space. However, these lights must be put up a certain way to work correctly and provide the type of look you’re going for.

In this guide you’ll find out exactly how to hang up string lights on your patio while also avoiding some of the risks that come with this kind of lighting installation. You’ll also learn about some of the styles of string lights available for you to install. Read on to learn more about installing string lights and how to do it.

Step-by-Step Guide to Hanging String Lights

The method for hanging up string lights depends on the type of string lights you’re using and the size of the space you’re trying to traverse with them. Depending on how the space is laid out, you may be lining the patio with lights along the railings or you might need to use poles to raise your string lights to an overhead level.

Here are the basic steps you need to follow to hang string lights on your patio:

  • Measure out the space. You’ll need to know exactly how many feet of string lighting you’ll need to cover before you buy it. Be sure to leave yourself a little slack and don’t buy the minimum amount of lights, otherwise you may end up coming short. Keep in mind you’ll need enough slack for your light plug to reach the nearest electrical outlet.

  • Assemble and place your light poles. Not all light string kits will require poles to place if you’re just going to line the patio with them, but if you want your string lights running overhead you’ll need to get them to a height where they’re safely out of reach and can’t be accidentally pulled down.

  • Hang your guy lines. Guy lines (also known as guyed lines) a set of wires and anchors that are used to act as a primary support for your string lights. Guy lines are a good way to take the tension off overhead string light wires and help the string lighting last longer over time.

  • Hang your string lights. Once you hang your guy lines or you know how you want to line your string lights up around your patio, it’s time to hang the lights themselves. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or two for this stage of the installation if you can to make sure the lighting wires stay straight and keep from tangling while you lay them out.

  • Plug everything in. If you’re using multiple string lights, they’ll need to be connected together via plugs before you hook up the master plug to the electrical outlet. Once they’re plugged in and switched on, your new patio lights should be good to go!

The process of hanging up string lights isn’t difficult, which makes this style of lighting a quick and easy way to add cozy warm light to your patio area without much effort.

While some string lights may be a bit more expensive than others depending on the types of materials used, they’re all installed in the same basic way. (Source: Christmas Lights Etc)

Here’s a video by a company that specializes in hanging string lights so you can see how the pros do it:

How Do You Hang String Lights Without Nails?

If you want to install string lights on your patio, you might want to consider doing so without using any nails. This type of lighting installation may not be quite as sturdy as lighting that is installed on nail fixtures, but for lightweight lighting strings like fairy lights or Christmas lights you may be able to get away with not using nails or guy lines.

The advantage of not using nails to hang string lights is that if you ever get to the point where you want to take the string lighting down, you don’t have to remove a few dozen nails and leave a few dozen unsightly holes in your wooden patio railing.

This is a good choice for people who want to install string lighting on a rental property. (Source: Love Property) It’s also a good method for patios with metal railings or other installation points where using traditional nails to hang lighting wouldn’t work.

Here are a few ways that you can install string lights without nails:

  • Staples: Staples can be used to attach smaller string light sets to your patio area without leaving a bunch of visible holes in your siding or railing. A staple gun can also help make installation a quick and easy process. (Source: The Home Depot)

  • Adhesive-backed hooks: If you want to completely minimize the damage that string lights might cause during installation, you can always opt for adhesive-backed hooks. These hooks are strong enough to hold up many types of string lighting and can allow you to install them without leaving any holes at all.

  • Gutter hooks: Gutter hooks are designed for hanging Christmas lights, so they’re the perfect option for adding installation waypoints for your string lights without causing any permanent damage to your patio or the side of your home.

No matter which method you use, there are plenty of ways to install string lights without putting a bunch of holes in your patio in the process.

Supplies for Hanging String Lights on a Patio

The supplies you’ll need to hang string lights on a patio are minimal compared to the supplies and tools needed for many other home renovation projects. That makes string lights a great starter project for someone who is just getting involved in do-it-yourself projects around the house.

These are some of the things you’ll need to get set up with your patio string lights:

  • Hooks: No matter which style of hooks you go with to attach your patio string lights, you’ll need some type in order to attach the string lights to the places you want them to stay and keep them securely in place. You may also need to place wall anchors depending on where you’re attaching the string lighting to your home.

  • Zip ties and carabiners: Fasteners like zip ties and carabiners can help you keep your string lighting straight and organized during installation so you end up with a professional-looking result.

  • Guy wire kit: Depending on the type of string lights you use you may not need a guy wire, but if you’re planning on using string lighting overhead you’ll definitely want to invest in guy wires (link to Amazon) to keep your project in line.

  • String lighting: Be sure to get a long enough length of string lighting that you have more than enough give in the wire that you don’t have to stretch it to reach an available electrical outlet. String lighting will vary in cost depending on the type and how much you need.

  • Extension cords: No matter where you install your string lighting, chances are you’re going to need an extension cord to plug them in. Make sure you have a couple just in case your string lighting plug falls short of the mark when it comes time to power everything up.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to get a string lighting kit up. This is one of many reasons why these lighting installations are so popular.

Styles of String Lights for Patios

When you’re deciding what kind of string lights to get for your patio, there are tons of different colors, styles, and varieties available to choose from. Here are just a few of the many lighting styles you’ll have the option of purchasing for your string lighting installation (Source: Home Stratosphere):

  • Globe lighting: Globe lighting (link to Amazon) is a great way to add a romantic air to your patio space, which is one of the reasons why this lighting style is so popular. Globe lighting is expensive as far as outdoor string lighting goes, but it carries the advantage of being able to string many lines of lighting together for a bright incandescent look.
  • Colorful string lights: If you want to add a touch of whimsy to your outdoor space, colored string lights (link to Amazon) can give the space a more subdued and moody look or a festive holiday look depending on the color combinations you choose.
  • Fairy lights: Fairy lights (link to Amazon) are small haphazard-looking LED lights that have commonly been used in indoor decorating applications, but these small lights have also recently gained favor in outdoor installations too. Fairy lights add a softer and more diffuse lighting style to your patio area.
  • LED rope lights: Rope lights (link to Amazon) are a great way to add a modern look to your outdoor patio lighting. These lights can be used to add an orderly and contemporary look to your outdoor lighting design. They’re also good for lining stairs and other dangerous walkways at night.


These are just a handful of the many lighting styles that you can use to add both light and style to your patio. Each of these lighting types gives your patio a very different atmosphere, but going with one style and keeping it consistent across the space can give the patio a unified feel.

String Lighting Is A Good Starter Project

If you want to renovate your outdoor patio space but you don’t know where to start, installing string lighting is a way to upgrade the look of your patio space significantly with only a small amount of work and expense put in. With just a few basic tools and the right lighting, you can  completely transform the way your patio looks after dark.

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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