Fall is approaching, holiday season is right around the corner, and it’s now less than 100 days until Christmas. For some, this means the dreaded extra traffic getting to and from the mall, arranging flight plans for visiting family, and hanging those tangled holiday lights around the house!

If you don’t know how to hang Christmas lights properly, you might be ruining your roof without even realizing it. Yes, there really is a proper way to do this! But, how do you know if you’re damaging your roof, eaves, gutters, and siding?

With our help at Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal, tackle this holiday season like a pro and be the talk of the town here in Louisville. We’ll walk you through how to hang lights properly, avoid damaging your home’s roof, eaves, and gutters, and help you stay safe while doing it.

Preparation for Hanging: Covering the Basics

First, start inside by getting your supplies ready and your design planned out. What’s your focal point? Consider the surface for your design. Will you be decorating the eaves, around pillars or posts, your window stills, door frames, etc?

If possible, walk across the street and take a photo of your home. This can help give yourself some perspective to view your property in its entirety and make a thought-out plan from the same viewpoint as those who will see your lights.

Be sure to test your lights BEFORE you hang them. You don’t want to be on top of a ladder in the cold when you realize your lights are busted. Also make sure to know where your outlets are, so you know exactly where you’ll be plugging in your lights.

Next, don’t procrastinate! Weather in Louisville can change quickly, so plan to work earlier in the day and pay attention to the forecast, so you’re not shivering in the dark and you stay safe!

Get Outside: Preparing the Space

Before you start hanging, measure the length of your house along the ground, measure around doors and windows, and measure the height from the ground to your eaves, so you know exactly what space you’re working with.

A homeowner in Louisville hanging holiday lights on his roof.

Next, measure out your roofline, gutters, shutters, and siding lines separately. Christmas lights on your Louisville home can be installed on any of these surfaces, but there are specific light clips for each type of surface. In case the store is out of all-purpose light clips, be sure to inspect how thick the gutter lip is, and how loose or tight the shingles on the roof are to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need.

Make sure you have a sturdy ladder to reach your roof’s eaves and all the tools you’ll need (more on that later!) Clean any debris out of the gutters, off your roof, or trim any overhanging branches that could be in your way while working.

Tools, Do’s, and Don’ts: One Step Closer to Decorating Your Louisville Home

The objective is to hang your holiday lights as easily and safely as possible, without damaging your roof (thus needing a roof repair), your eaves, or your home. In order to do this, you’ve got to make sure you have the correct tools and supplies. Take the time to make a list before heading to the store, and check out our tips below in order to do so!

Choosing the Best Lights

There are a few things you should look for any time you’re picking lights to hang on or around your house. You want to make sure your lights are safe, cost-effective, and give you the look you’re going for.

  • Check for damage or frayed cords. If your current lights show any signs of wear, do not use them.
  • Make sure that all of your lights are the same color (white isn’t always white). LED’s typically have a bluish tint whereas incandescent are slightly gold. You want to make sure your lights all match before you end up with a hodge-podge design.
  • Make sure you use the same light-type in the same area. You may keep white lights on the home and colored on the lawn. Either way, organize your lights so you know how much you have and what you’re going to use and so you’re not sorting and untangling lights up on your ladder. Net lights are a great option for bushes and flower beds.
  • LED’s are a great option because they save on Louisville energy costs and you don’t have to worry about them overheating.
  • Always make sure your lights (and your extension cords) are specific and safe for outdoor use.

Use the Right Supplies

Don’t use staples, nails, clothespins or any other homemade, DIY contraption you’ve used in the past for mounting lights to your house. While the traditional method of installing holiday lights was to use nails or to attach cords with a staple gun, at all costs, try to avoid going this route.

Staples and nails make it easy to cause damage to your home’s roofing system. Stapling or nailing anything to your roof breaks through the barrier that protects your home from the elements, and we all know how that goes during wintertime in Louisville.

By breaking through your roof with holes and tears, this means that moisture can get underneath your shingles or in your insulation and makes it easier for mold to grow—not to mention, it makes your home less energy efficient. Allowing cold winter air, or even things like snow and ice, to get inside means higher heating bills for you down the road.

Instead, follow our expert advice and use the right tools and supplies for the job.

Tools Needed:

  • Lights (be sure to check you can use them indoor AND outdoor use!)
  • Light Clips (these can be all purpose or specific depending on the surface)
  • Ladder (and maybe a stepladder for those not so tall places)
  • Gloves
  • Tape Measurer
  • Outdoor extension cords

Optional, but maybe smart to have on hand:

  • Extension pole
  • Zip ties

Hanging Supplies:

  • Use plastic light clips designed for gutters and roofs. Find the ones that have a lower hook that holds a light strand or extension cord. You can find these at hardware or home supply stores all around the Louisville area.
  • Plastic zip ties for railings or posts, or shorter areas.

What NOT to Put on Your Roof

While placing all those lights, Santa, his sleigh, 8 full-size reindeer, AND a snowglobe on your roof and home might seem like a good idea, it’s probably not. Here are a few things you should absolutely not put on your roof under any circumstances:

Anything near the chimney. Yes, we get it – it’s cute. However, even just one stray ember could float up and cause a fire. Keep the chimney area completely clear to ensure the safety of your home and family.

Inflatable decorations are great for the yard, but one strong wind, combined with an inflatable snowman not tied down properly, can mean serious roof damage.

Anything heavy should not be put on the roof, especially during the winter months in Louisville, where there’s always potential for snow and ice buildup too. Instead, look for high-quality but lightweight plastic options.

Grab Your Toolbet: It’s Time to Get to Work

It’s time to get outside and get started! When you’re ready to attach the lights to the roofline, use an all-purpose light clip, or specific clips for the specific part of the roof, that we mentioned earlier. They are simple to install. Begin by snapping the light strand into the jaws of the clip, then slide the other end of the clip onto the roofline. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the job a little easier (and get the results you want):

It doesn’t really matter if you hang the lights pointing up or down, just make sure they’re all clipped in the same direction so your design is seamless. If you don’t have gutters, you can use the same clip to attach lights to your shingles instead – simply flip the clip around.

Finished holiday lights on a roof in Louisville, KY.

Snap light clips onto gutter or eaves every 6 to 10 inches so that lights don’t sag or droop. If you measured accurately, you should have enough lights (or a little extra) to span the width of your roofline.

Attach any excess wiring or lights around the corner of the eave or roofline. Clean up any access wire by loosely rolling up and clipping the extra cord into an unused portions of the clip.

For shorter areas like posts and railings, you can use plastic zip ties. These handy tools are strong, weather resistant, adjustable, and easy to remove.

Attach your light strand into your extension cord and into an outlet, and boom, you’ve got award-winning lights for your Louisville home!

The Best Lights in Louisville

You’ve done it! The job is complete (successfully, if you’ve followed our tips and tricks)! Your holiday lights are up and glowing, your roof is safe and sound, and your neighbors are jealous!

If, on the off chance, you’ve accidentally made a mistake to your eaves or gutters, or damaged your roof, there’s no need to panic or lose that holiday spirit. Contact us today at Abrams Roofing for a roofing inspection and estimate!