Guide To Hanging Christmas Lights on Gutters (2024)

Christmas lights undoubtedly bring joy and life to any home during the holiday season, especially at night. Whether you use net lights or rope lights on your foliage, line your doorframe with Christmas string lights, or light up your walkways with incandescent bulbs, the effect is sure to be beautiful.

One of the most popular ways to decorate your home for the holiday season is to hang Christmas lights from gutters. But, before you unroll your lights and start hanging them from your gutters, you should take a moment to consider the most efficient and safest ways to hang these popular Christmas decorations. As part of the expert team at Today’s Homeowner, I’ve compiled this helpful guide to teach you how to do just that.

1. Create a Plan and Gather Supplies

Consider what you want your house to look like once you’ve hung your lights up.

Do you want a color-coordinated LED light display? Would you prefer using one color or mixing and matching colors? Are you planning on using different types of Christmas lights, such as icicle lights, incandescent lights, and mini lights?

I recommend sketching out a diagram of your house’s exterior and then taking the time to measure your gutters to make sure that you have enough lights to get the display you want. You should also check with your homeowner’s association to make sure that you are allowed to hang lights on your gutters, or if there are any other rules regarding what types of Christmas decorations are appropriate to hang.

These are the supplies you should have on hand for this DIY project:

  • Weather-safe extension cords;
  • Tape measure;
  • A steady, tall ladder;
  • String lights — verify that they are safe for outdoor use;
  • Gutter light clips — make sure they are all horizontal or vertical;
  • Yard stakes;
  • Outdoor timer — optional.
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If your gutters are dirty, you’ll also want to pay a professional to clean your gutters before-hand or do it yourself. Once you have all the materials you need, you can begin measuring.

2. Follow These Safety Tips

Did you know that the United States leads the world in ladder injuries and falls? Over 164,000 people are treated at the hospital each year for ladder falls. Three hundred deaths occur yearly due to these falls, most of which were from relatively short ladders, 10 feet or less.

It is very important to not compromise your safety when hanging outdoor Christmas lights. Follow these safety precautions to stay safe while you’re measuring your gutters and hanging lights:

  • Always inspect your ladder before using it. Check that it’s stable, undamaged, and doesn’t have loose parts.
  • Measure your gutters and hang Christmas lights only during safe weather conditions. Never climb on a ladder when it’s windy, rainy, or snowy outside. This increases your risk of falling and injuring yourself, plus it will be more challenging to secure your lights if the roof and gutters are wet. Likewise, don’t hang your Christmas lights when it’s dark outside. Not only will this make the job more difficult, but it’ll be harder to see, and you’ll increase your risk of falling or slipping.
  • Move your ladder, usually. Don’t try to reach further than you can comfortably. You don’t want to fall due to tipping your ladder over. Instead, move your ladder for each five to 10-foot section of your roofline so that the area you’re working on is easily within reach.
  • Read your Christmas lights’ safety instructions. Depending on the type and brand of light, you may only be able to connect two to four strands of lights together based on the wattage. Read your instructions carefully and plan for this. If you’ve lost the instructions, look them up online and always go with fewer light strings on one circuit when in doubt.
  • Wear the right clothing for the job. Choose slip-resistant, closed-toed shoes and skip leather soled shoes, which are not slip-resistant enough for the job. Long pants and shirts may also be a good choice because they give you additional protection against dirty gutters and ladders.

    If you are uncomfortable working at heights, you may want to pay a professional or work with a family member who is comfortable on ladders instead. However, if you are confident in your ability to hang lights and have followed all of the precautions above, you can begin hanging your lights.

3. Measure Your Gutters and Lights

Before you start hanging your lights, check that you have enough Christmas lights for the project. Measure how long your gutters and railings are and mark these measurements down on your diagram. You will also need to know how long your lights are to see if you have enough. You can then purchase additional Christmas lights that are appropriate for exterior use, if you need them.

Next, take a moment to locate your closest electrical outlet. Do you need extension cords? If you do, measure any you currently have and compare this to the length between where your lights will start and the outlet.

You may also need to pick up extra gutter clips or plastic clips. Gutter clips, or Christmas light clips, are inexpensive and efficient for hanging lights. Choose between a vertical or horizontal style. Some gutter clips can be used either way, depending on which one you select.

4. Test Your Lights

Nothing is worse than spending time clipping and adjusting lights on your gutters, only to find out that they don’t work once they’re already in place.

Before hanging your outdoor Christmas lights, test that all the bulbs are working properly while you’re still on the ground. Weed out and dispose of broken light strands beyond fixing. Take a moment to replace any LED bulbs that have gone out since you last used them.

If any lights have damaged or frayed cords, immediately get rid of them. You don’t want to create an electrical hazard by hanging damaged lights outside, as this could cause a fire risk.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

A damaged cord is a potential fire hazard, and weather, like rain or snow, can cause them to short. At best, you would fry your lights, but at worst, your short-circuited Christmas lights could start a fire.

If you are looking to decorate your house sustainably and avoid a high electrical bill this season, you can also look into purchasing solar-powered lights for gutters. You can also opt for these lights to provide year-round decorations for your home and garden.

5. How To String Your Lights With Gutter Clips

Plug your extension cord into your home’s exterior outlet and use a yard stake to hold the cord in place. Climb your ladder with the other end of the extension cord in hand, then begin the light hanging process. Use one or two gutter clips to secure your extension cord, then plug the first string of lights into it.

You can then mount your gutter clips by clipping them onto your gutter. Then, attach the string of lights to the gutter clips. Use one gutter clip per light bulb, spaced evenly for a clean, beautiful look. The more gutter clips you use, the tighter and neater your light display will look.

Gutter clips will also prevent your lights from swaying or sagging in the wind, or worse, coming undone entirely. Continue attaching gutter clips and securing your Christmas lights with them across the length of your gutters.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Avoid connecting three or more strings of Christmas lights together as you don’t want to strain your outlet. If you need more than three strings to complete your display, find a second exterior outlet and continue the process.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide on Christmas light installation for gutters gave you a quick refresher on every step you should take before and during the light hanging process. Take your time during the holiday decorating process for the best results and to keep yourself safe while you’re up the ladder.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to be your assistant during the process — it’ll go faster and be safer for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hanging Christmas Lights on Gutters

Can I hang Christmas lights on all types of gutters?

While you can generally install Christmas lights on all types of gutters, you need to make sure that your gutters are in good condition before doing so. Your gutters should not be sagging or coming off their hangers. If you find that this is the case, it is best to have these gutters replaced outside the winter months and try again next holiday season.

How do I reach high gutters safely?

You should only use a stable and steady ladder when accessing high gutters. Never reach for gutters or stand on the top rung of the ladder. Also, you must place the ladder on level ground. Do not try to hang Christmas lights when there is snow or ice, as this greatly increases your risk of falling and injury.  When in doubt, always contact a professional to help you do the job.

What types of Christmas lights should I hang on gutters?

You should only use holiday lights that are approved for outdoor use. This prevents the risk of fire and also makes sure that your lights will last throughout the winter.

Are there any local regulations or HOA rules about outdoor lighting?

You should contact your HOA about what types of exterior Christmas decorations and lighting are appropriate. Complete this step before you make any purchases or begin decorating to avoid disputes down the road.

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