What Is the Best Lighting Design for Outdoor Steps?

     The answer to that and just about any other lighting design question is that it just depends. While that answer may not be satisfying to most homeowners, it’s the best answer that we can provide until we’ve fully evaluated the site and have fully understood how the homeowner intends to use the space after dark.

Typical Recessed Step Light

     Most homeowners immediately think that the commonly used step lights shown at left are the easiest and best way to illuminate the stairs leading to their deck or raised patio. With any good lighting design, however, the final design should be based on the bulb itself and resulting lighting effect. In other words, the fixture selection and type should actually come last in the design process.
     These lighting fixtures are relatively easy to install on a wood or Trex deck – either during or after construction. However, if the lights need to be installed in poured concrete steps, then a lot of pre-planning needs to be done before the new steps go in.
     During the last twelve years we have been in business, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado has only installed a handful of recessed step lights. The primary reason for that is because there is a much better way to proper illuminate the steps for after-dark safety – and that design effect is commonly called downlighting or sconce lighting.

Entrance to Property Requiring Proper Lighting for Steps

     We recently completed a lighting installation at a home built in the 1920s near the Governors Mansion in Denver. The property is accessed from the public sidewalk through a large wrought iron gate. To reach the upper terrace and front entrance to the home, you can access the steps immediately to the left or right side of the gate. With an existing and historical home with stone and concrete work quickly approaching one-hundred years old, the last thing you would want to even consider would be recessed step lighting. The good news is that installing these  copper BB08 sconce lights is much easier and they provide much better lighting as well. A close up of the completed installation is shown below.

Close Up of Completed Sconce Light Installation

     That being said, there have been a few occasions where recessed step lighting was our only option for providing any lighting to steps. In those situations, the steps from side to side were over ten feet wide, with no handrails or any other possible location to mount any sconce lights. In that situation, we made sure that we installed at least three step lights on each riser so that the steps could be safely illuminated. 

     The last photo shows the lighting effect of these copper BB08 sconce lights (made in the USA at our factory in Nashville) on a deck with many steps among the pines.

Deck Lighting and Step Lighting Among the Pines

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: