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Lighting Your Outdoor Steps and Stairways

Ever walk through your seemingly safe backyard, and stumble over an obstacle you didn’t know was there? As you are likely aware, in the dark, something as simple as walking in your yard can pose a serious hazard. This goes doubly for walking up and down stairways. Adding light to a backyard path or your deck’s descending staircase will enable you to more safely tread an otherwise risky evening venture.

While you may be questioning whether or not we can add lighting to your existing outdoor stairway, the truth is that there is always a way if you are creative with your design (and we are!) Tread lights, post lights, downlights, and core lights are all approaches used for stair lighting that can be invaluable components to any outdoor lighting system. 

So how do we decide which lighting technique to use for your stairs? It depends on how you are using the particular space and the effect you want to achieve. Here are some options:

• Tread/Recessed lighting – This popular lighting option casts light down onto the step directly beneath it. Providing a soft light, the fixture looks natural and is barely seen because of the way it is installed.

• Downlighting – To accomplish this, fixtures emitting a soft wash light are mounted high up in a tree or architecturally. Directed onto a staircase, this type of lighting can provide effective lighting, while also maintaining a serene atmosphere.

• Path Lighting – Oftentimes, step lighting is done not in a staircase, but alongside the far apart steps in a descending or ascending path. Path lighting is done to illuminate pathways, but can also be used to light up the steps that a pathway can sometimes have.

• Post Rail Lighting – These fixtures are mounted onto the post or railing of your stairs. They are an effective way to light the ground beneath them, or more often, the steps beneath them.

Safety is important, but light does more than illuminate dangers. When done right, light can create a charming atmosphere. Bringing that extra element of aesthetic pleasure, light doesn’t merely show us where we are going; it creates a beautiful ambiance.

These installations often require precise placement and technical know-how, so it’s important to hire an experienced professional, such as Outdoor Lighting of Northern Virginia. Want to learn more about outdoor lighting? Find out how you can enjoy more of your nights safely outdoors by scheduling a complimentary night demonstration! Call (703) 936-7190 or email us at