While you’re at the hardware store picking up light sets and extension cords, you’ll need to get some mounting equipment. Putting up lights is a specialized job, so don’t trust it to ordinary fasteners.
Nails, Staples, Screws, and Hooks
Some people punch nails, staples, screws or hooks into their homes and hang the lights from there, but those fasteners can damage wall joints and other sensitive areas. They don’t fit elsewhere, either; as home decorating expert Leland Edward Stone has written, “The roof was put there to repel water. The last thing it needs is to be poked full of nail holes.” An even worse idea is to attach the light strands into your home by pounding nails and such directly through the strands. That’s a fast way to damage a strand’s wires, it can be a pain to remove, and it usually looks ugly.
A better (and easier) way to attach lights to your home is by laying down strong, tight layers of weatherproof electrical tape. Tape is also a good tool for protecting electrical connections. Wherever anything plugs into anything else, a tight wrap of tape around the connection will hold it together and safeguard it from rain and snow.
Clips are useful, too. They hold lights to surfaces by applying simple, safe pressure. There are different clips for different purposes.
Shingle tab clips are good for putting lights, especially big bulbs, along the roofline. In each tab is a hole; use one tab and hole for each bulb. It’s a three-step process:
- Slip each bulb through its hole.
- Screw the bulb securely into the tab.
- Once you’ve got all of your bulbs in their tabs, slide the tabs up under the roof shingles. (Make sure that the bulbs face away from the roof.). Clip each tab to a shingle. The result: a neat, clean, even row of lights.
While shingle tabs are probably the best known clips, they’re not the only ones.
- Gutter clips are molded to fit rain gutters; they don’t slide in like shingle tabs but snap into place.
- Brick clips attach lights to bricks. Unlike other clips, which are made of plastic, a brick clip is made of metal. It attaches to a brick by grabbing the top and bottom edges that poke out beyond the surrounding mortar.
- Parapet clips don’t attach lights to surfaces as shingle tabs or gutter clips do. Electrical tape or another adhesive holds the clips on the surface, while the clips themselves keep the strand of lights facing or aiming in the same direction.
- C clips, so named because they’re shaped like the letter C, do the same kind of job as parapet clips but are usually bigger and have been used on bigger buildings.
- Tree clips attach lights to trees (well, duh).
- Mini-clips are sized for miniature lights
- All-in-one clips are versatile enough to handle lights of different sizes, and can fit onto shingles or gutters.
It all can sound pretty complicated. But if you know the kind of clips and tape to get and you use them properly, your display will stay up for weeks. Imagine, an entire Christmas season in which you don’t have to hear the immortal cry, “Honey, get the ladder. The Christmas lights came down again!”