Learning to hang string lights is a great way to spruce up the look of any balcony, and will quickly transform a basic-looking balcony into an outdoor sanctuary. No matter what size balcony you’re working with, there is a solution for hanging string lights and taking your outdoor space to the next level.
Hanging string lights is actually pretty easy, and you should not be intimidated even if your DIY skills are limited. All you really need to accomplish the job are a few essential tools and a bit of planning.
I’ll break down the process of how to hang string lights on a balcony, so you’ll be able to emulate the process with whatever size balcony you have.
Tools & Materials
- Outdoor string lights
- Tape measure
- Drill or hammer drill (optional)
- Masonry bits (optional)
- Masonry wall anchor (optional)
- Exterior extension cord
- Zip ties
How to Hang String Lights on a Balcony – Guide
Step 1: Plan and Measure
Before you start drilling holes and installing your string lights, you’ll want to plan out your installation a little. Measure the area where you plan to install your lights and determine how you want the lights to hang.
Do you simply want the lights to cross the length of the balcony, or do you want them to cover the entire perimeter? Do you want them to crisscross or double back on themselves for greater illumination?
Take out your tape measure and find the dimensions of your installation. Write down this number. You’ll also want to add in the distance between your electrical outlet and your installation location as you may need an extension cord to gap the distance.
Step 2: Select Your String Lights
String lights come in a huge variety of different bulb types, lengths, designs, and even different power sources.
If you have an outdoor outlet near your installation, it makes sense to go with plug-in string lights. If the outlet is a little far from your installation location, then you’ll probably need an exterior-rated extension cord as well (as I did with my installation).
If no outlet is nearby, then don’t panic! There are still several ways you can complete your installation. Both battery-powered lights and solar-powered lights make good choices, with solar lights working best in areas that receive a lot of sunlight during the day.
Step 3: Determine Mounting Method
How you actually hang your lights will depend on the material your balcony is made of.
If it’s wood then the installation is pretty simple, all you’ll need is a drill and a few hooks and you’ll be able to complete your installation in no time.
If your balcony – or more importantly the area where you plan to mount the lights – is made of masonry or concrete, then you’ll need to work a little harder to hang your lights. In this case, you’ll need to drill holes into the masonry itself, which means getting your hands on a hammer drill and masonry bits.
There are also specialized mounting kits designed for mounting string lights on a balcony. They contain multiple different mounting options – including carabiners, a stainless-steel mounting cable, and screws with expanding plugs.
Step 4: Lay Your Lights in their Installation Location
A good way to ensure your installation will go smoothly with no hiccups is to lay out your lights on the ground in the same location where you plan to install them. This will let you know if your lights will actually span the length of the installation, as well as show you if you’ll have excess lighting that needs to be hidden or lapped back on itself.
Step 5: Mark Hook Locations
This can be done as you go, but if there are any obstacles in the way, or you’re installing your hooks in a tricky material – such as masonry, then measuring and marking the hook location makes sense.
Use your tape measure to determine the distance between the mounting holes on the string lights, then measure and mark out each mounting location by adding a half inch or so of slack so your lights don’t stretch out too much.
Step 6: Install your Hooks
I used hooks screwed into the wood for my mounting hardware, but of course, there are multiple ways to go about this process. I used cup hooks and zip ties to secure the lights to the mounting hardware and found that I needed to drill pilot holes in order to install the cup hooks without too much stress.
Once again, if you’re drilling into masonry or concrete, then you’ll need to use a hammer drill and masonry anchors to keep your hooks in place.
Make sure to leave room for your extension cord when doing this part. In my case, I had to drill a single anchor in brick to house the end of the extension cord, and the rest I installed in wood.
Step 7: Install Your String Lights
Now you’re ready to complete the installation and actually hang your string lights.
If you’re installing your lights on hooks, then I’d highly recommend using zip ties to actually secure the lights in place. They’re easy to install and are forgiving in case you screw up slightly and miss your installation location by a little.
Now, test out your string lights to see if they work. Check every bulb to ensure none are damaged or broken and test each one to ensure none are defective. Most string light kits come with one or more spare bulbs in case any are damaged, so you can often fix any issue right away without having to return the entire kit.