How to Hang String Lights

How to hang string lights

The inviting glow of our vintage string lights can make any outdoor gathering all the more magical. And when you leave them up year-round, you’re always ready for a get-together with friends.

As long as you have the right tools on hand, installing string lights can be a very simple project. However, there are a few considerations you’ll want to take into account beforehand.

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First, if you’re stringing your lights across the yard, rather than around the perimeter of a porch ceiling, for example, then it’s best to secure your string lights to a tension wire for additional support.

Secondly, make sure you have secure anchor points for your light strands. Your porch roof, a tree or even an umbrella stand can all work as anchors. Our starting point was inside a pergola. From the corner of the roof, we ran a tension wire with the string lights across the yard that attached to a pole firmly planted in the ground (and cleverly camouflaged by shrubbery).

Lastly, measure the distance to see how many strands you’ll need. Please consult your instructions to see how many strands you can safely connect to one another. It’s typically 3 to 4 strands.

Once you’ve got your game plan — and your lights, of course — you’re ready to install. Let’s get started.

karens_backyard_39

Step 1:  Install the tension wire.

We made a loop on one end of the wire using wire clamps and attached the loop to our anchor point, the pergola roof, using a screw hook. We ran the wire and secured it to the second anchor point, the pole.

karens_backyard_38

Step 2: Secure first end of strand lights to first anchor point.

We ran part of a strand inside the top of the pergola. Depending on the type of lights you have, you may need an eye bolt. We were able to hang our lights from a screw.

karens_backyard_42

Step 3: Hang string lights from wire.

To secure our vintage string lights to the wire, we used cable ties. If you are using more than one strand, connect each end to continue installation to the next anchor point.

Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the cozy ambiance of your new string lights! You should probably invite a few friends over, too.

 Find more How To basics on HowtoDecorate.com or browse ideas on our Pinterest boards. 

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How to Decorate Team

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

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  1. Reply

    Eric Michael Marder

    June 7, 2017

    What can you recommend for mounting elevated above deck railing?

  2. Reply

    Jess

    May 13, 2016

    What size wire and clamps did you use??

  3. Reply

    Coleen

    February 22, 2016

    HI, I recently bought two strands of these great Vintage lights for my restaurant. Wanted to see how pretty the bulbs looked before hanging and quite a few of the sockets are not working? Am I doing something wrong ? Has anyone else had this problem or did I get a lemon?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      February 22, 2016

      Coleen,

      I am so sorry to hear this! Please send us your contact information so we can fix them. Send your information, and order # if you have it, to socialsupport@ballarddesigns.net.

      We definitely want to get you so working lights!

      The How to Decorate Team

  4. Reply

    Cassandra

    November 27, 2015

    We are looking at purchasing and installing these lights in our backyard but are unsure how to connect the tension wire to the metal pole. Any recommendations based on the hardware you used in this example?

  5. Reply

    Chuck

    November 2, 2015

    I am going to be running 4 lines of light strings of varying lengths across my screen enclosure above my pool. Each line will be starting from the same corner and will be plugged into an outlet high in the corner. The different line lengths are 27′, 32′, 26′, and 21′. Do you sell these custom lengths or is there a way to shorten the 30′ lengths? I don’t want any over hang of lights.

    Thanks

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi Chuck,
      Unfortunately we do not sell custom links of our Vintage String Lights, and we don’t recommend shortening them.
      Sorry!

  6. Reply

    Don

    October 25, 2015

    I am concerned that you have shown plastic zip-ties to connect the string lights to the stranded cable. I know these cable or zip ties will deteriorate and will eventually give way under the sun, especially here in South Texas. I am worried these will break and my lights will fall to the ground after a period of time. Any other ideas for securing the string lights to the cable?

    • Reply

      Able

      February 1, 2018

      My concern is with the poor way the cable ties are cut/trimmed leaving a sharp plastic edge that can cut into fingers. Cable ties should always be cut/trimmed to the edge.
      A good quality cable tie should not deteriorate.
      If worried use something like a keyring.

  7. Reply

    Mike

    September 24, 2015

    Can I run the string lights without tension wires? I want to run them from tree to tree, draping them over limbs for support. I estimate the longest span between trees to be about 15-20 feet. Will the weight of the unsupported spans cause a problem with the wiring connections?

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      November 15, 2016

      Mike,
      The weight shouldn’t be a problem, but you will want to secure them to whatever support they’re suspended from.
      Best of luck!

  8. Reply

    Lindy

    August 22, 2015

    At the end of the description of the vintage string lights, it states “hardwire.” Is that correct? Do they not simply plug into an outlet?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      September 11, 2015

      Lindy,
      They do plug into the outlet, sorry for the confusion!
      The How to Decorate Team

  9. Reply

    Lindy

    August 22, 2015

    At the end of the description of the vintage string lights, it states “hard wire.” Is that correct? Do they not simply plug into an outlet?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 24, 2015

      Lindy,
      We’ll correct that. They do plug into an outlet!

  10. Reply

    Robert

    July 8, 2015

    I am thinking of hanging them in my yard around one trees branches how would I do this?
    Robert

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 13, 2015

      Hi Robert,
      It would be best to use a guide wire to connect the tree to your home or somewhere else where you can install an outdoor outlet. Then run the lights down the guide wire to the tree you’d like to hang them from. You can also connect several strings together in case the distance from the outlet to the tree is too far.
      We hope that helps!
      The How to Decorate Team

  11. Reply

    Susan

    June 22, 2015

    What did you use for your tension line?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 25, 2015

      Hi Susan,
      I think it was just a piece of cable from the hardware store. Not sure of the weight!
      The How to Decorate Team

  12. Reply

    Andris Ross

    May 31, 2015

    We want to use the string lights on a pergiula that is 18 feet by 12 feet. How many strands would you recommend? We plan to hang them around the perimeter and two strands would be plenty for the length but would it be enough light and what about the middle? Do we need to figure out someway to light the middle?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 31, 2015

      Hi Andris,
      We can definitely make some recommendations for you! Simply complete this form (don’t forget to include photos and measurements!), and our design team will contact you with a plan and next steps!
      The How to Decorate Team

  13. Reply

    fran

    May 29, 2015

    On the vintage string lights when one light goes out does the whole sting go out.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 1, 2015

      Fran,
      No, if one light or bulb goes out, the rest will not go out as well!
      The How to Decorate Team

  14. Reply

    Ray Heter

    May 29, 2015

    What is the length from the plug to the first bulb?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 1, 2015

      The length from the plug to the first socket is 60 inches or 5 feet!

  15. Reply

    Debrah Bathurst

    April 27, 2015

    love the vintage string lights. I want to put them inside & outside. Is the string 50 foot long with bulbs spacing 3′ apart?
    Trying to determine how many I need for 2 indoor ceilings. How do I submit photos. Can’t find directions.
    Thank you

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      May 1, 2015

      Yes that is correct. The strands are 50 feet long, with 15 bulbs per strand, and almost 3 feet between bulbs.

  16. Reply

    Debrah Bathurst

    April 27, 2015

    How does one submit photos? I don’t find directions.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      May 1, 2015

      Debrah,
      We’re always happy to help with your space. Our Design Solutions team does just that! You can send us your questions with photos using this form.
      We look forward to hearing from you!
      The How to Decorate Team

  17. Reply

    Nate

    April 19, 2015

    Hi-
    You mention that the second anchor point you used is a pole – do you have any information on what you used for the pole and how you buried it securely in the ground?. We bought these lights and love how durable they are, but plan to string them a long distance across our yard (approx. 30-40 feet) so we want to make sure whatever we do to anchor the pole is sturdy enough to handle how heavy-duty the lights are.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      April 24, 2015

      Hi Nate,
      Unfortunately, I don’t know the dimensions or specs for the pole used, but it was anchored into the ground with cement. I believe it was also fastened at one point to a securely installed fence post!
      Best of luck! We’re thrilled to hear you are pleased with our string lights!
      The How to Decorate Team

      • Nancy Clark

        May 31, 2015

        I have been looking for where I could purchase the pole to use in hanging the string lights. Can you give me any ideas?

      • How to Decorate Team

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        June 1, 2015

        Hi Nancy,
        Unfortunately we don’t have any information about where to purchase the exact poles in this post, but you could try your local hardware store! They will likely have some good suggestions in how to put up a pole for string lights.
        Best of Luck,
        The How to Decorate Team

  18. Reply

    Kim

    April 6, 2015

    The website description for vintage string lights says the strand length is 50′ L, and the length from socket to first light is 60″. This comment section says the whole strand is 5 feet in Length. What is correct answer? Thank you.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Kim,
      The strands are 50 feet in length!

  19. Reply

    Chris

    March 16, 2015

    How high off the ground should we install the hangers for the tension wire? then how low will each of the strands hang below the wire?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      March 17, 2015

      Hi Chris,
      The height for the wires depends entirely on personal preference. We would suggest at least 8 or 9 feet off the ground in case you have tall friends 🙂

      Also, as far as the strands hanging down from the wire. You can pull the strands more taut so they don’t hang down as far, but they shouldn’t hang more than a foot below your wire.

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  20. Reply

    Lisa

    February 1, 2015

    In the 3 pictures above, where they are under a covered patio, it doesn’t look like there is a tension wire. Do you need the tension wire if you are attaching them under a solid roof? Thank you.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      February 6, 2015

      Hi Lisa,

      If you’re stringing the lights from a fixed surface, like the underside of a room, you shouldn’t need a tension wire.

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  21. Reply

    Gene

    October 18, 2014

    Would these shades also work with Pendant Kits?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      January 23, 2015

      Gene,
      Unfortunately no, the shades designed for the vintage string lights are only compatible with our branded string lights.

  22. Reply

    claudia

    October 8, 2014

    Hi, my question is geared to the direction in which they should hang. We want to use these for our pergola. I have a hard time envisioning things…..so, should the lights be run vertical (along the long upper posts), criss cross forming an x, should they go down a little then back up, should you attach them flush with the pergola beam? What looks best? There has to be a most visually pleasing look or look that is preferred….

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2014

      Hi Claudia,
      Thanks for your comment. We actually have a design team that can help you with your home. It’s a free service that we offer to all of our customers. Use this form to submit some photos, and our design team will create a design plan for your space. We look forward to helping you!
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  23. Reply

    Dennis

    August 27, 2014

    3 Questions, when plugiing in two strands what is the distance between the last socket of the first strand and the first socket of the 2nd strand? Is it 8′ and if so can it be shortened so the spacing matches the typical 3′ spacing.

    In your pictures you show the cord draped what distance or length to you get when doing the drape as you show?

    What is your Warranty?
    Thanks
    Dennis

  24. Reply

    Susan

    August 20, 2014

    Hi. Now that I have received two strings of these outdoor string lights, I see they are very heavy-duty which is fine. And long, which concerns me when the wind blows hard. I bought them for our covered back 25′ deck so they will be under the cover but when it storms will they cause the bulbs to hit and break against the framing or the cover? Do you have suggestions on how to hang from the framing? I saw the photo where you placed it over the screw. Any suggestions on this? Thank you! Susan

  25. Reply

    dale

    August 2, 2014

    do you sell colored bulbs like red,blue,yellow green ,orange and how far apart are the sockets on a 50 ft strand

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 4, 2014

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately we do not sell any kind of colored bulbs for string lights. In regards to the length between sockets, from the plug to the first socket is 5 feet, and from there, each socket is 3 feet.

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  26. Reply

    Kate

    July 26, 2014

    I’ve hung my globe light strings x3 on my back porch. We tested first strand when we hung it….yet by the time we got all the strands tapped in and hung and plugged them in for our inaugural lighting….None of them turned on. We checked the fuses and they were all blown. There was nothing on the website or in the directions about this….can I get more fuses sent to us? Along with a couple more bulbs….there were a few broken bulbs? I appreciate your time.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 30, 2014

      Hi Kate,

      We are so sorry about the issue you’ve had with our string lights. I’ve passed along your customer service issue to our team, and they should be getting in touch with you shortly. If you have any other questions, please email socialsupport@ballarddesigns.net. We’re sorry for the inconvenience!

      The How to Decorate Team

  27. Reply

    Cherie

    July 26, 2014

    I want to hang the vintage string lights across our patio from the eave of the house to the eave of the garage which is less than 20 feet. I think Two strands would do the job snd still have enough swag to look good (15′ x 14′ space)?Do I need to do additional anchoring? My friend has your string lights and did not do any additional anchoring under the same circumstances. Thanks you.

  28. Reply

    Eugene Paradiso

    July 22, 2014

    Are the vintage lights recommended for seriously cold weather? I live in NE Wisconsin. I would love to use these during the winter holidays. Thanks

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 30, 2014

      Hi Eugene,

      Thanks for your comment. Our Vintage String Lights are all weather, so they should be fine, even through harsh winters!

      Hope that helps.

      The How to Decorate Team

  29. Reply

    Millie

    July 22, 2014

    What is the wattage of each bulb?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 30, 2014

      Hi Millie,

      The wattage for the bulbs on our outdoor Vintage String Lights are 11W each. You can purchase just the bulbs here.

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

  30. Reply

    ciao

    July 22, 2014

    How do you keep squirrels from eating the wires? I’ve had several heavy gauge string lights crash to the ground because of squirrels.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 28, 2014

      Hello!

      Thanks for your comment. We haven’t heard of any issues with squirrels eating the wires. We can’t say for certain that squirrels won’t be able to eat through the cords on our Vintage Strings Lights. Sorry we can’t be more help!

      Best of Luck,
      The How to Decorate Team

  31. Reply

    Richard

    July 22, 2014

    these are great, however, you should offer an LED bulb with same light spectrum as your low wattage bulb.

    • Reply

      Libby

      October 25, 2015

      Agreed!

  32. Reply

    Stacy

    July 15, 2014

    I am interested in the nautical shades with the vintage lights. Are the nautical shades $13/shade or $13/per string of lights?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 16, 2014

      Hi Stacy!

      The Nautical Shades for our Vintage String Lights are sold individually, like our chandelier shades would be. So, it’s $15/shade. Hope that helps!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  33. Reply

    Sabine

    July 15, 2014

    Since the electrical outlet on my covered porch is at a level you would expect, do you have any clever tips on how to disguise the cord on the way up to my porch ceiling?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 28, 2014

      Hi Sabine,

      What a tricky situation! We might suggest one of two options. First, you could simply afix the cord to the wall and paint it the same color so it blends in. Or, if your wall isn’t painted (maybe it’s a stone or brick surface), you could consider hanging some sort of outdoor art over the cord to disguise it! Hope that helps!

      Best of Luck,
      The How to Decorate Team

  34. Reply

    carla

    July 15, 2014

    Is the lightbulb included?
    Thanks again!

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 15, 2014

      Hi Carla,

      Yes, lightbulbs are included, but you may want to go ahead and purchase an extra pack of the bulbs to have on hand for backup! Hope that helps.

      Best, The How to Decorate Team

  35. Reply

    carla

    July 15, 2014

    Hi!
    How many light bulbs per string?
    Thanks,

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 15, 2014

      Hi Carla,

      Thanks for your comment. There are 15 light bulbs sockets per strand. Hope that helps!

      Best,
      The How to Decorate Team

  36. Reply

    Kathy Horvath

    July 12, 2014

    I’m interested in the Nautical Shade for Vintage String Lights. How long is the string from end to end. I do not know how many strings I need to order…. Thank you.

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 14, 2014

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your comment. Our vintage string lights are 60 inches from end-to-end! Hope that helps.

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

      • Charlotte

        April 26, 2015

        Caroline, to your reply of Kathy’s question Re: length of wire, 60 inches or 60 feet, from end to end for each Strand of lights? Thank you

      • How to Decorate Team

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        May 1, 2015

        Charlotte,
        From end to end, the lights are 50 feet!

    • Reply

      ralda singer

      July 14, 2015

      Can you use the vintage string lights inside of the home too?

      • How to Decorate Team

        Caroline @ How to Decorate

        July 22, 2015

        Yes, absolutely!

      • Jim

        August 25, 2016

        ralda.. BE SURE and read the box.. my string lights say the bulbs can be VERY HOT.. they are not LED.. these are 48 ft/24 lights on a string.. beware of the heat..

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