Are Bistro Lights Right For Me? (How to Hang String Lights)

Summary – Bistro lights are an excellent choice of lighting to decorate an outdoor space for evening leisure and enjoyment. Bistro lights can be strung on trees, walls, railings, and poles in both residential and commercial settings. However, for long-term usage and energy efficiency, it is best to use commercial-grade string lights and LED lighting.

Are Bistro Lights Right For Me Hang String Lights

Your outdoor space is incomplete without proper lighting. Whether you want to host your family and friends in your backyard space or simply want to unwind after a long hard day, you need an efficient light to illuminate your outdoor space and create a vibrant, festive environment for your enjoyment and relaxation. 

However, deciding on the right lighting style for your outdoor living space may be tricky. You’ll need to consider the size of your space, the kind of ambiance you wish to create, how long you want to hang the light (whether temporary or permanent), and the quality of the light, among other things.

I used bistro lights for my backyard space. The lights are beaming down from trees suspended horizontally over my patio seating area. The design is created so uniquely that it has drawn many people to my Instagram profile since I shared the photos.

Many people have been asking questions like, “How did you come up with your outdoor lighting design?” “Are bistro lights OK for my patio?” “How should I hang my bistro light?” “Can I hang bistro lights on my fence?”

So, in this post, I will share simple tips on designing an outdoor space with bistro lights. 

Bistro Lights are Good for Your Outdoor Space

Are Bistro Lights Good for Your Outdoor Space?

Bistro lights, also known as string lights or café lights, are a very versatile lighting option that adds illumination and elegance to your outdoor space at night. They can be made in various styles and designs to fit any space or occasion, including private backyards, outdoor dining, commercial restaurants, weddings, and other nighttime events.

String lights are also available in various chord lengths to accommodate different space sizes. So, regardless of how large or small, your outdoor area is, you can find a size that meets your needs, provided you can develop a design idea that matches the setting you want.

Where Can You Hang Bistro Lights?

Where to Hang Bistro Lights

Once you’ve planned your design and have the necessary supplies, hanging bistro lights can be pretty simple. Trees provide natural support for decorative outdoor lights, so if you have some trees in your yard, they will make an excellent stand for your bistro lights. But if you don’t have trees, don’t worry; there are several alternative locations you can hang your bistro lamp.

The following are a list of the best places to hang bistro light in your outdoor space:

  • On tree branches 
  • On the deck and stair railing
  • On poles and potted plants
  • Along a fence and the side of a house
  • On the pool fence
  • On the ceiling and covered patio, Pergola or Gazebo

How to Hang Bistro Lights in Your Outdoor Space

There are several methods for hanging bistro lights. Whether your outside space is covered or open, you can create a beautiful design with bistro lights by following the easy steps shown in this section.

But first, here are my 6 simple designs for outdoor bistro lights:

  • Parallel Lines bistro lighting.
  • Square pattern bistro lighting. 
  • The V shape lighting. 
  • Zigzag/W pattern. 
  • Horizontal point. 
  • Tent design.

When creating an inviting outdoor space, you can try any of these simple DIY designs with your bistro lights. However, many more options are available if you contact a skilled decorator. You can also come up with your pattern of bistro light design. And when you do, please share it with us in the comments section so that others can benefit.

Materials You’ll Need 

  • Commercial-grade bistro lights
  • Measuring tape
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Screws or nails
  • Suspension kit for bistro lights; wire cable, turnbuckles, snap hooks, lock clamps, and pad eyes.
  • A wire cutter.
  • Cable ties
  • A power source, such as an outdoor plug or an extension cable 
Hang Bistro Lights in Outdoor Space

Step-By-Step Hanging Process

Measure Your Space

Before purchasing bistro lights, you should measure your outdoor space, whether it is your backyard, poolside, garden, or restaurant. This is to ensure that you obtain enough string light for your location.

  • Using a tape, measure the distance from one pole to the other along your chosen pattern, whether horizontal or zigzag. 
  • Also, ensure you have enough string lights and cable guide wire to create your desired pattern. 

Prepare your Mounting Stand

The next step is to determine where you will hang your bistro lights, such as trees, fences, railings, poles, and so on.

  • If your outdoor space lacks existing mounting points, purchase and install poles around the perimeter of the area where you want to add lighting. You can use metal or wooden poles.
  • Then, mark the locations of the hooks on the poles, walls, and trees using a pencil.

Install your Suspension Kits

Once your mounting supports are ready, install the screw hooks and guide wire into the structure. 

  • If you’re installing your bistro lights on wooden poles, trees, or brick buildings, drill holes before connecting screw hooks. But when mounting bistro lights on railings and fences, use staple gums and adhesives to secure hooks and wires to the wall.

String your Light

With the suspension hooks in place, you may begin to wind the lights in your desired pattern. And this is where your creativity comes into play. 

  • Check that your strings are properly aligned along your chosen pattern and are not crowded together, causing light emphasis on one section of the space over another.
  • Before connecting the strings to the hooks, remove the bulbs from their sockets to prevent them from breaking.
  • Start lining the strings from the nearest point to the power source. 
  • Attach the cables to the hooks on each mounting location, and secure them using zip ties.
  • Return the bulbs to their sockets and connect the plug to them once the cables are firmly in place.

Now, your bistro lights are ready to use! 

Choosing the Best Bistro Lights for Patio

Now that you have learned the DIY hanging techniques for bistro lights, you can’t wait to get your string lights from the market. But, before you do, there are a few more pointers I’d like to provide to assist you in finding the best café lighting for your outdoor space.

  • Invest in commercial-grade bistro lights. They are designed for outdoor usage and will longer when installed permanently in your outdoor space.
  • I recommend that you choose shatterproof bulbs instead of glass. They are more resistant to harsh weather and storms and can last longer when installed permanently in your outdoor space.
  • Also, select LED bulbs. They use less energy, produce no heat, and are normally cold to touch. They are also sturdier and will survive for a longer period in your outdoor space.
  • Look for bistro lights with heavy-duty wire gauges ranging from 16 to 18 and insulation ratings of SPT1, SPT2, or SJTW. They are stronger and more durable for long-term installation.
  • Finally, I recommend that you buy removable bistro light bulbs. This allows you to replace the bulbs when broken and change the light’s color whenever you choose to. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Hang String Lights on My Patio Without Nails?

The ideal places to hang bistro lights without nails are around patio covers, poles, and trees. Another popular method is to use sticky hooks, gutter hooks, or transparent tapes.

Can Bistro Lights Get Wet?

Yes, bistro lights can be used in an outdoor space if they are waterproof. Check the manufacturer’s label for the IP (ingress protection) rating to see if your string lights are waterproof. A proper waterproof outdoor light will have an IP68 certification or above.