How to Hang String Lights on Your Patio

Dress up your deck with classy cafe lights. Our step-by-step instructions make it easier than ever to get the perfect evening light for entertaining and relaxing.

Add mood lighting to your deck or patio with outdoor string lights.

Spend more time out on your patio when you install cafe string lights. These scene-stealing illuminaries make warm nights even better. They cast a soft, cozy glow and make it possible to stay outside longer. Plus, they're easy to install.

We'll show you a foolproof way to hang cafe string lights—for good. Our hanging method will last season after season, so no more putzing around with plastic hooks and other temporary solutions. We use screw eyes and carabiners to attach the lights so they're just as easy to put up as they are to take down. Expect to spend an hour or so on this project, depending on the size of your deck (ours was 12x12-foot).

DIY String Lights You Can Make 

What You Need

  • String lights and bulbs
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Wood-bearing drill bit slightly smaller than your screw eyes
  • Screw eyes
  • Mini metal carabiners
  • Outdoor extension cord
  • Outlet timer, if desired

Step 1: Select Anchor Points

Lay string lights around the perimeter of your deck. Eyeball where you would like each strand to hang, and adjust lights until they're in desired position. Make sure the plug is near a power outlet. Using a ladder and a pencil, mark the rough placement of each light on your deck's overhang.

Everything You Need to Know About Deck Lighting

Step 2: Install Screw Eyes

Predrill holes in marked locations, then twist a screw eye into each hole.

Editor's Tip: How you want your lights to hang determines how many holes to drill and how many screw eyes to install. If you want taut lights that stretch around the deck, install a screw eye for every light. If you'd like your lights to swag, install eyes every other or every third light.

Step 3: Attach Carabiners

Use mini metal carabiners to attach the lights to the screw eyes. Simply thread the carabiner through the hole at the top of each light, then thread it through the eye of the screw. This installation makes it extremely easy to install and take down the lights as desired. 

Step 4: Install Light Bulbs

Place one bulb in the socket of each light. Twist until the bulb is secure. 

Editor's Tip: We used Edison-style bulbs for our deck, but you can use any desired light bulbs. Keep in mind that while LED bulbs have a distinct look, they'll save energy if you plan to use your lights frequently throughout the year. 

Step 5: Attach Power

Attach the outlet on the string lights to an extension cord. Snake the cord down to your power source, and plug it in. Secure the cord to a wall or a post with cord clips. If desired, install an outlet timer so your lights automatically turn on and off.

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