Knowing how to hang string lights on a balcony might seem obvious, but there are numerous options depending on the lights and where you’re hanging them. Of course, if you’re a renter, your options need to be non-invasive.
So, that’s exactly what we’ll cover here: how to hang outdoor string lights. We’ll cover all the different areas of a balcony (or patio) and suggest hanging methods for each.
If you have a covered balcony, you have a few options for hanging string lights depending on the material.
If your balcony ceiling is simply the floor of an above balcony, you’ll want to avoid anything too invasive. The simplest option is probably adhesive hooks, providing the surface is smooth. Some string lights (such as these) helpfully have hanging grommets.
But if your ceiling is rough, the easiest option might be staples. A strong staple gun will punch them into concrete, and they won’t leave noticeable marks when you take them out.
If you’re hanging string lights on a patio and have a wood pergola or roof beams, you have more straightforward options. Staples are still a great option, as they’ll easily go into wood.
In a pinch, you could use sticky tape to attach the string lights to wood beams. Use clear tape so it’s not too obvious. Of course, this won’t last forever, particularly if it gets wet.
Finally, an option is to use S hooks (or butcher’s hooks). These are ideal for hanging string lights along the edge of a roof or pergola, particularly in gutters. Just beware that they might blow off in the wind.
There’s no right answer to the best string lights to hang on a roof. That said, globe string lights (such as these) probably look the best, simply because they most closely resemble actual light bulbs.
As for how you hang them, there are countless options. Some of the most attractive include the maypole design (all strings come from a central pole) or the W design (basically zigzags).
The best method for hanging string lights depends on the type of balcony railing. If you have a wall instead, scroll down to the section on walls because it’ll be more relevant.
The best option for how to hang outdoor string lights on a glass railing is probably adhesive hooks. You can get clear ones that won’t show up much, and you could stick them to the underside of the top rail to keep them hidden.
If you have metal railings – such as cast iron – the easiest option might be to simply wrap the string lights through the gaps. It’s the least invasive option and means you can adjust them as necessary.
Of course, it means you’ll need a longer set of string lights. Measure your railing and buy string lights that are up to 3x longer to compensate for all the wrapping you’ll do.
You could still use S hooks, adhesive hooks or tape for metal railings, but there’s really no need if you can wrap them around.
Wood railings are more common on patios and decks than balconies. Much like above, the best option for how to hang outdoor string lights on wood railings will be adhesive hooks or S hooks. Again, you could wrap them around instead.
If you plan to wrap the string lights around your railing, small fairy lights (such as these) will look best. For hanging on hooks, globe bulbs (such as these) will look better, particularly if they have hanging grommets!
There’s no best way to hang string lights on a railing. For example, you could wrap small LED lights around the vertical posts and/or the horizontal rail. Alternatively, you could hang them in big loops from the horizontal rail.
These methods apply to true walls and also balcony railings that are actually walls. We’re counting walls as anything made from concrete, brick, and so on. If you have a wood or metal fence, use the solutions for those materials above.
There’s no point in breaking down the different materials, as they all use the same solutions.
First, if you can, consider drilling holes and hanging ceiling hooks (coat hooks could also work). These are the best option because they’re secure and will work in stucco walls as well as smooth walls. Of course, it’s not a viable option for renters.
Nails are another invasive option, but they can look too obvious. A benefit of hooks is that you can at least choose nice looking ones, whereas nails are just nails.
For non-invasive options, simply take your pick from what’s been suggested so far. Adhesive hooks are probably the best option, but S hooks could also work if you have a gutter running along the wall.
Alternatively, use existing features, such as a trellis (like in the picture above) or window frame to support the string lights.
Again, it really depends on your design style. LED string lights can look good if you use a lot of them or hide them behind other items. If you want the lights to be obvious, globe bulbs are always a great choice.
If all else fails, you could always use furniture as your string light supports. You could wrap them around table legs, shelving units, mirrors or chairs.
Another option for hanging outdoor string lights is to use plants. For example, you could wrap them around a climbing plant on a trellis or around the stem of something like a palm tree. The best string lights would be LED fairy lights, as they’ll be less obvious.
6. Support Posts
Finally, you could use support posts. Of course, they take up floor space and don’t serve any other function, so it might not always be the best solution for balconies, patios or smaller outdoor spaces. However, there are some ways around this.
First, you could look out for string lights that come already attached to posts. Some products (such as this) would be perfect for a balcony or terrace because the poles are designed to fix to railings. As such, you won’t have to worry about losing floor space.
Another option is to make dedicated support posts. To do so, you just need to sink wood posts into concrete-filled pots. Check out this video for a clear how-to. These will obviously take up a bit more room on the floor, so might not be the best choice for smaller spaces.
Then there’s the most standard option: sinking posts into the ground. Of course, this is only a viable option for patios or gardens where you have some soft ground. However, it’ll give you the most freedom because you could buy any sort of light pole or string lights, allowing you to customize your look.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for how to hang string lights on a balcony. You’ll rarely have to use screws or nails because there are so many non-invasive methods. Importantly, it means nothing is stopping renters from enjoying a lit up space!