6 Ideas for Lighting Outdoor Stairs Safely and Inconspicuously

Just as sheltered outdoor living spaces provide protection from sun and rain that let you enjoy your outdoor living space longer, so lighting your outdoor stairs allow you to enjoy your outdoor living space safely into the night. There are several ways to safely and unobtrusively light your outside stairs. You can install lighting off to the side of the stairway. You can install some types of lighting in hardscape walls, in the exterior walls of your home, or in parts of the railing. You even can install lighting in the risers behind the stairsteps.

Lightning Outdoor Stairs From Off to the Side

1. Try lighting your stairs with the same type of lighting that you use to light paths and sidewalks. Solar-powered path lights require no electrical wiring, so they offer safe lighting for outdoor stairs. They come in a variety of styles to complement your home’s architecture, outdoor decor, and landscaping style. You also can install small floodlights, but these require electric wiring and groundbreakers. Path lighting not only can illuminate your outdoor stairs but also can highlight the landscaping and even specific trees and plants beside the stairs.

2. Moonlighting offers another way to light your outdoor stairs and illuminate and highlight parts of your landscaping. Moonlighting provides a soft wash of light over a larger space that includes lighting for your outdoor stairs. The effect is similar to the soft wash of light from the moon. Creating the look involves installing lighting 30 feet up or higher on your home or other structures or in selected trees that you might want to highlight. If you choose lighting fixtures that direct light both up (uplighting) as well as down (downlighting), you can use the uplighting to highlight any unique architectural features of your home.

3. Moonlighting actually is a particular type of downlighting. Downlighting fixtures are designed to direct light down while uplighting fixtures direct light up. If you want brighter lighting that focuses more directly on your stairs and you have a wall beside your stairs, you can install downlighting fixtures in or on the wall a bit below the height of the handrail

Lighting Outdoor Stairs Handrails, Newel Posts, and Risers

4. If you’d prefer to have your lighting focused more directly on the stairs, some newel posts are manufactured with lighting fixtures inside of the post while others include a lighting fixture inside the cap of the post. If your outdoor stairs have newel posts that don’t include lighting, you can attach lighting fixtures to the post just as you would a wall.

5. Another way to light your outdoor stairs is to attach strips of LED lights to the underside of the handrail. LED lights use low voltage and produce little to no heat, so they are safe for this use.

6. To give each step of your outdoor stairs a dramatic and unique look, install lighting in the riser at the back of each step. The lighting shines out across the step in front of the riser and causes the step above the riser to appear to float on the light. If your steps are made of concrete or another hardscaping material, attach LED lights with an adhesive backing to the riser.

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