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Choosing the Best Material for Your Outdoor Lighting Fixtures

Lighting fixtures come with several material options such as plastic, aluminum, brass, copper and stainless steel. When choosing the right lighting fixture option, it is important to take into consideration the weather patterns in our area, level of humidity, your gardening or landscaping habits and your long-term expectations. Let’s check out each material option for the pros and cons.


This is the least durable but usually the cheapest option. Plastic is easily manipulated by the weather with warping and overall structural damage. Plastic fixtures will usually only last short-term, meaning customers will have to spend more money in the long run with replacing fixtures and bulbs.


Aluminum is a low-quality metal that will not last long term in outdoor terrain. There are finishes that are added that can aid in decreasing corrosion, but eventually, they will need to be replaced.
If the aluminum is powder coated or marine coated, it does extend the life of the fixture to about three and a half years. This is another option to save money upfront but not necessarily in the long term.

Stainless steel

If choosing a stainless steel option, be sure to use fixtures with the electro-polish finish in order to prevent discoloration from the weather. Also, be aware of the grade of steel, as some are more prone to corrosion than others. Stainless steel fixtures may be less suitable if you live in a high humidity area. Stainless steel features also require cleaning to keep that shiny look as well as decreasing corrosion or discoloration. These may be time-consuming to maintain.


Copper is a quality metal to use for fixtures due to the high corrosion resistance. Copper does “patina,” turning green or overall discoloring over time due to weather. This does provide protection from corrosion and rust. Copper is often used to coat other metals, such as brass, to give added protection to stronger metals. Overall, machined copper is a better quality than rolled or stamped, though costlier. This is an option for long-lasting and quality lighting fixtures.


Brass is a quality metal that can hold up in weather very well. Over time, it will patina like copper. Brass will last years to come, as it has a high corrosion resistance. Brass is a hard metal that is durable but also costlier than the other options up front. Though, it may save money in the long run due to not having to replace fixtures. When choosing brass fixtures, be sure to look at the zinc content. You want to stick with something that is less than 15% zinc to ensure great quality. Brass is the most popular material used for lighting fixtures.

Interested in Outdoor Lighting?

Now that you know about all the fixture material options, schedule your free consultation with an outdoor lighting designer to discuss your lighting needs. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of DC Metro has decades of experience creating elegant designs and completing flawless installations. Our team takes pride in creating lighting designs that look great at night! During our free nighttime assessment, you’ll meet with one of our lighting designers to discuss all your lighting needs. Call us today (202) 873-9113 to make an appointment!