Patio lights can make a world of difference to your outdoor space. They immediately signal to all of your guests that you care about the ambiance of your patio and they make dim, dark spaces usable regardless of the time of day.
However, it’s not always obvious how to hang them up (especially if you have a siding material like stucco). You may be tempted to reach for a box of nails — but hold on!
Before you do something you might regret, read through this guide. I’ll tell you how to hang outdoor patio lights without nails and without drilling.
The easiest way to hang outdoor lights without nails or drilling is to install gutter hooks or adhesive-backed hooks on the surface. If neither is an option, consider using fixtures like trees or fenceposts to act as hanging points and wrap the lights securely. This approach will work for almost any type of siding — including stucco, vinyl, brick, or wood.
First, let’s take a look at why you’d want to avoid making holes in your wall while hanging patio lights. Then, we’ll take a look at all of the worthwhile ideas to hang patio lights without nails or drilling.
Why avoid holes
Many folks wonder why they should take the extra effort to avoid making holes in their brick, stucco, or vinyl walls (or even their shingles). After all — drilling holes or nailing in lights is ridiculously easy. Is it really such a big deal?
Generally, you want to avoid making holes in your walls for two reasons: the damage it can cause and the permanence of the hole.
Having uncovered holes in your wall, in addition to being unsightly, can cause a handful of other avoidable problems. For instance, moisture can get inside the holes and cause mildew and rot. Additionally,
You can’t move holes. If you nail into your stucco to hang a light and decide you want to move it later, you’ll have to nail another hole. Depending on how often you change your mind, this could cause your home’s walls to be littered with preventable holes.
Ideas to hang patio lights without nails
Use gutter hooks
For at least one side of the lights, you can use gutter hooks to hold the outdoor string lights. These are S-shaped hardware you can purchase at any home supply store (our favorite decorative ones are here).
You can hang one end from the lip of your gutter, and thread the string light through the other end. Voila! No damage to your walls.
Use adhesive-backed hooks
Just like with gutter hooks, adhesive-backed hooks can help you hang outdoor lights without using nails or drilling holes.
However, you don’t hang these off the lip of a gutter or other surface. Instead, you either peel the back or apply adhesive to the hook and pin it onto a flat surface.
If this will be a temporary arrangement, I encourage you to use a cleanable adhesive. Our favorites are the Command Outdoor Light Clips!
Wrap the string lights around trees
You can use any trees in your yard as impromptu light stands.
While it’s perfectly fine to do this, you’ll want to make sure to shift the lights regularly. You want to avoid having the string lights grow into the tree (trust me, this can happen).
You can choose to drill directly into the tree, but be careful not to permanently damage it.
Make use of bushes
Like trees, bushes can also be employed as a makeshift light stand. I think most people have attempted to run lights through landscaping fixtures around the holidays — this is the same idea.
They can be particularly useful if you have bushes sitting close to your house or around your patio.
Unlike trees, you won’t have to move them very often. The risk of the lights growing into the bush is low and can be fixed easily if it does happen.
Use a glue gun
Cleaning up gobs of glue is drastically easier than patching nail or screw holes.
For that reason, I often reach for a glue gun when no other options are available. You’ll want to make sure you use enough hot glue to actually hang the light.
Additionally, you’ll need to hold the light for as long as it takes for the glue to dry. It may be a bit of a pain, but it’s a completely effective way to hang outdoor patio lights without nails!
Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun
This is the glue gun that the Captain uses. It’s cheap enough and will go a long way to hanging most types of outdoor lights. Be sure to replace the glue sticks with acrylic glue. Acrylic is much better suited to outdoor use than the alternatives.
Consider using tape
Tape is also a cheap and somewhat effective way to hang patio string lights without nails. I’ve done this using masking tape to hang Christmas lights around brick windows. The end result wasn’t great, but it worked (for a while).
The main problem with using tape is that the adhesive will lose its stickiness rather rapidly. When I hung the Christmas lights on brick, some of the lights were sagging before Christmas. However, if you need a cheap way to hang them with something you probably already have around your house, it can work.
String the lights around your fence
One idea to avoid nailing holes in the side of your house is to simply string the outdoor lights along your fence. You can easily use finishing nails in the wood and wrap your lights around them.
This can be fantastically effective and provide great ambient lighting in your outdoor space.
Can You Hang Lights On Stucco Without Nails?
Yes, you’ll definitely be able to hang outdoor lights on stucco.
I would be extra careful using adhesive-backed hooks, though. Using an adhesive on stucco increases the likelihood of damaging the surface. If you want to ensure that your exterior isn’t damaged, stick with using gutter hooks.
Can You Hang Outdoor Lights On Vinyl Siding?
Vinyl siding is a bit more resilient when it comes to adhesive, so you can use all of the options I’ve presented. In fact, a fantastic no-drill vinyl siding hanger can be found here for cheap!
Vinyl siding also has the advantage of coming in pieces, which is beneficial if you do end up damaging one.
Can You Hang Outdoor Lights On Brick Without Screws?
You should be able to use adhesive-backed hooks or hot glue when hanging outdoor string lights on brick.
Please avoid drilling directly into the brick or mortar, as this can permanently damage the surface. Brick is beautiful (not to mention expensive) and we should want to keep it intact!
How Many String Lights Will You Need?
We actually write an article about this recently — go check it out!
How High Should Patio String Lights Be?
Always be careful hanging patio string lights along people’s walking paths. Small, thin strings of outdoor lights are difficult to see when not turned on.
You don’t want to be responsible for someone clothes-lining themselves! It’s hard to tell you a definitive height, considering it largely depends on the height of the tallest person on your patio! However, 9-10 feet is a good rule of thumb.
Why 9 to 10 feet? It’s 4-5 feet taller than an average-sized human being. The lights will naturally hang down and sag over time, so you’ll want a bit of breathing room.