Once a deck has been constructed it is like an empty stage waiting to be furnished with such items as a table and chairs, a chaise lounger, a barbecue, portable bar and bar chairs. Electrical power can run a barbecue spit, a music sound system but best of all it can power a deck light system that will dramatically tranform an ordinary deck into a sparkling gem under the nighttime sky.
Deck illumination is divided into 2 categories: functional and decorative. Both types can be installed permanently or set up temporarily for the purposes of special occasions.
Functional deck lighting has 3 different purposes:
1. General illumination – When deciding upon a functional deck lighting system it is important to keep in mind 2 factors. Outdoor lighting does not require as much illumination as indoor lighting and any light fixtures should never be placed in such a way is to shine directly into people’s eyes. There are a variety of ways to keep lights from shining into eyes. Conceal light fixtures behind wall valances, the eaves of the roof or rafters overhead. It is also possible to mount floodlights in trees or off roof eaves so that light is directed onto the deck area at an angle of 45 degrees. Finally, it is also possible to bounce light from low level sources off the walls of the house, privacy screens or other large vertical surfaces bordering on the deck. In general make a practice of using the fewest bulbs of the highest possible wattage in this system.
2. Concentrated illumination – Any deck areas that are used for activities at night should have brighter lighting. Versatile activity lighting might be portable telescoping stands for use with floodlights that can provide simple adjustable lighting. These can be stored away when they are not in use. This type of lighting would require electrical outlets in the various areas.
3. Safety illumination – Only low levels of illumination are needed for safety lighting along stairs or walkways. It is important to ensure that the lighting itself does not throw deceptive shadows, does not create glare and is not an obstacle of any sort to trip over. Recessed light fixtures, backlighting from beneath deck edges or steps and low mushroom style fixtures are the ideal types to use in these cases.
Decorative deck lighting also has 3 different purposes:
1. Landscape illumination – The whole nighttime image of a deck can be dramatically improved by the illumination of nearby tree branches, a water feature, shrubs or a nearby garden. It is wise to experiment with the placement of floodlights to create effects such as uplighting, downlighting, silhouetting, diffusing and fill lighting. Take the time to view the effects from various parts of the yard as well as on the deck. Make sure that when you make your final choice that you position the lights so that they are not visible in daytime hours if possible.
2. Color illumination – Colorful illumination can create wonderful visual effects in and around a deck. Green light is ideal for accenting shrubs and bushes. Yellow lighting gives warmth to brown house siding. Haphazard use of color lighting however has the power to create bizarre effects sometimes. Talk to a professional if possible about this area of illumination.
3. Festive lighting – Celebrations, parties and holiday decorating can often create a need for festive lighting in or around a deck. Strings of miniature lights can be used to link deck items such as railings, pergolas, arbors, patio umbrellas, privacy screens, etc. Larger bulb light strings can be used to create party lanterns. Torches, candles and any other open flame types of illumination should be held in place securely in carefully selected locations that prevent any kind of fire related accident from occurring.
Outdoor lighting fixtures come in many shapes, sizes and of course price tags. It is a wise decision to visit local home imporvement retail outlets to see what is available. Take the time to consult with knowledgeable staff there to assist you in the planning and implementation of your deck lighting system. If possible make use of both functional lighting and decorative lighting in and around your deck so that it becomes the most attractive deck in the neighborhood.
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of “How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish”. To Discover More About
Deck Lighting and Claim your 2
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