Choosing Exterior Lighting

When I am picking lighting for spec homes or even my own home, I seem to get hung up on the exterior lights. In my opinion, it is just as important as picking the brick and other major exterior features. All of these things set the tone for what is to come once you enter the home. Maybe that is why I find it so dang difficult to pick them. Give me cabinets, paint colors, floor covering, I’m on it! I know exactly what I want, but for some reason the exterior lighting makes me fret a little. Even if you don’t have as difficult a time as I do picking them, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing exterior lighting.

  • Consider the demands of the weather. For example, a covered back porch will not get as much water as wall sconces flanking each side of an exposed outdoor wall. Always keep in mind that water and electricity don’t mix well. The main concern with outdoor lighting is moisture in the air, so exterior lighting is rated for either wet or damp areas.

  • An area is considered to be wet when it is subject to rain and the elements. Wet lighting is required here as these light fixtures are sealed and insulated to prevent water from getting inside, protecting their internal and electrical components.

  • A damp area is not as exposed to wet precipitation and moisture. Damp lighting is durable and offers protection against some moisture, but not as much as the wet location.


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  • Durability should be your next consideration because different materials will hold up against the elements better than others. Brass or copper metals are among some of the strongest. Stainless steel is a sturdy, affordable alternative. Finally, aluminum works will in many climates, but it can have a shorter lifespan when exposed to the elements.
  • After determining if your location is wet or damp and choosing the appropriate material, it is finally time to pick the style. There are a wide variety of styles and finishes available that typically mirror or reflect the interior style you’ve selected.

When choosing your lighting or anything else for your new home or remodel, it’s important to not get overwhelmed. Stick with your overall style, refer back to saved photos or Pinterest boards. Remember why you liked those photos to begin with. Work with your lighting professional.