How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof: A Complete Guide

Person hanging Christmas lights along a roof peak

How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof: A Complete Guide

As the temperatures dip and the holiday season approaches, many homeowners are beginning to plan a Christmas light display. But before you dig your favorite holiday lights out of storage and dig through your garage for the ladder, it’s a good idea to take a moment to consider the best way to complete your project. For many, hanging Christmas lights is a large DIY project that can be difficult to complete. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to put Christmas lights on the roof without hassle or damage with the right tools and a comprehensive plan.

Can Hanging Christmas Lights on My Roof Damage My Shingles?

Without the right tools, hanging Christmas lights can cause minor damage that leads to leaks and extensive damage over time. If you hang Christmas lights on your roof, it’s essential to avoid puncturing your asphalt shingles, tin surfaces, or other protective roof coverings.

While it seems harmless, even small holes from nails or staples can cause damage to your roof. These holes allow water to seep beneath your roof’s protective surface. When temperatures drop and the water freezes, the ice expands and creates more damage to your shingles and the roofing materials beneath. Holes in your gutters will cause water to leak where it shouldn’t, and holes in your fascia boards can cause them to rot. Always use plastic clips designed to hang Christmas lights so you can avoid damage. They come in a variety of styles to give you the ability to attach lights in several ways.

Your Christmas Lighting Supply List

For a hassle-free light hanging session, it’s essential to have the right tools and supplies available for your holiday decorations. Instead of making several trips to the store or making use of whatever you have on hand, gather the right supplies before you begin working. You’ll need these supplies to put Christmas lights on the roof safely:

  • Ladder: Unless you use a hanging pole or rent a bucket lift, you’ll likely need a ladder to reach your gutters or eaves to hang clips and attach the lights.
  • Plastic Clips: These handy tools are the way to hang your Christmas lights without damage to your home. Shingle clips and gutter clips are the most common varieties.
  • Lights: Whether you prefer LED bulbs, icicle lights, simple white lights, or colorful C-9 lights, make sure you have enough working lights to carry out your dazzling plan.
  • Light Tester: You must check all lights (even new ones) to make sure they’re working correctly.
  • Hanging Pole: If you prefer to avoid the ladder, a hanging pole can make it possible to decorate from the ground.
  • Outdoor Extension Cord: You’ll likely need an extension cord to reach from your outlet to your roof.

Pro Tip for How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof:

Before you stock up on long strings of lights, consider the benefits of short 50-light strands. They’re easier to handle and can be quickly and inexpensively replaced if a string goes out during the season.

How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Man hanging Christmas lights along a house's gutter

Your roof provides you with the best way to make your holiday lights stand out and really be seen. Unfortunately, it’s not the most easily accessible place to work. Planning ahead and taking careful steps will make your chore safer and easier. No matter what type of house you live in, it’s possible to create a beautiful Christmas display. Take these steps for a successful afternoon decorating your home.

1. Make a Plan

Before you even step on the ladder to hang outdoor Christmas lights, you should know exactly where you want everything placed and have the measurements to know it will actually work. Begin by locating your outdoor plugin. That’s where your starting point will be. Measure your roof and ensure you have enough lights to correspond with that length. The best Christmas lights begin with a careful plan.

Pro Tip for How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof:

Find a family member, neighbor, or friend who can assist you on the day you’re planning to hang your lights. Any time you’re required to use a ladder or step on the roof, it’s a good idea to have a helper nearby.

2. Prepare Your Supplies

You’ll likely be spending a considerable amount of time on the ladder. Having your supplies lined up and ready to go will help you save time. Make sure you have all the light strings and clips you’ll need to cover the distance and design you have planned. Remember that placing clips too far apart will leave you with saggy light strings that look less attractive.

3. Test the Lights Before You Start

You don’t want to find out those new lights are defective when you’re standing at the top of your ladder. Inspect each light string for faulty wires and missing bulbs. If wires are exposed, dispose of the entire string to avoid fire hazards. To remove bulbs, use needle-nose pliers to pull out any mini lights and simply unscrew the larger C-7 or C-9 bulbs counterclockwise. If an entire string fails to light up, check for a blown fuse. If a fuse replacement immediately blows, discard the entire string.

4. Attach the Clips

Since you have a plan already in place, you know how far your light strings will reach. Attaching the light clips first will make hanging the lights a breeze. Carefully plant your extension ladder firmly on flat ground and extend it well above the eaves. Make sure your ladder is at a comfortable angle for climbing before you begin working. As you put the clips in place, make sure they’re all in the same direction. Place clips around 12 inches apart or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Pro Tip for How to Put Christmas Lights on the Roof:

When you’re standing on a ladder, never reach far enough to disrupt your center of gravity. Instead, only work where you can reach comfortably before moving the ladder to the next position.

5. Hang the Lights

When your clips are in place, start back at the beginning with your first string of lights. Whether you attach lights to your gutters or shingles, work strategically. Also, make sure your lights are pointing in the same direction. Avoid attaching strings of lights together ahead of time since shorter strings are easier to work with. Work along the roofline, making sure the line remains taut and in a straight line without pulling too tight.

6. Set a Timer

Sure, your lights are spectacular. But you don’t want them staying on all night. Your light show could keep your neighbors awake and run up your electric bill. Plug your lights into an outdoor timer that will ensure you never forget to turn off the lights. Some outdoor timers even have light sensors that will turn your lights on automatically at dusk. So, even when you aren’t home, you’re bringing the holiday spirit to your neighborhood.

7. Flip the Switch

It’s finally showtime. When your job is complete, gather the family outside to admire your handiwork. While waiting until dark to turn on your lights the first time will have the biggest effect, you probably don’t want to face potential repairs at night. Turn lights on once you’ve finished working to ensure everything goes as planned.

Christmas Light Removal and Storage

After all that work, leaving your lights up throughout the year may seem like the best solution. Unfortunately, it’s not a great idea. Having a storage plan is an essential part of how to put Christmas lights on the roof. Extended exposure to sunlight can fade your lights, making them appear dim and faded next season. Additionally, many homes get more sunlight on one side of the home. This means your lights can fade unevenly and looked mismatched when you’re ready to use them.

When it’s time to remove your Christmas lights, avoid the urge to simply pull the string and watch everything fall. You could damage the lights (even if they’re LED lights), your gutters, and anything the strings hit on the way down. This can lead to costly roof repair. Instead, carefully remove your lights one clip at a time. Roll them carefully to avoid kinks and broken bulbs. This practice will also make the light strings easier to manage next year.

Carefully pack your lights in boxes with sufficient padding and store them in a dry place while they’re out of use. If you like to really deck the halls each year with a particularly extravagant display, consider finding a safe storage solution to keep all your Christmas decorations in perfect condition while they’re out of use.

Learning how to put Christmas lights on the roof is a great way to create a festive display at home during the holiday season. Once you take the time to learn all the details and collect the proper supplies, recreating the effect again and again will be simple.

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