Thank you for making this one of our most popular blog posts! It’s updated for 2022, but the core message remains the same: Enjoy your holidays, and remember to never staple Christmas lights to your roof!
Can You Staple Christmas Lights to Your Roof?
Oh, the festive joy of the holidays, with eggnog, presents, and a house covered in sparkly Christmas lights. Whether you’re just in it for some pretty Christmas decoration, or you’re at all-out war to be more impressive than the neighbors, Designer Roofing wants to help you protect your home from damage this holiday season.
It’s Simple: Don’t Staple Christmas Lights to Your Roof!
In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold is a case study on what not to do in pretty much every scene. Still, many people think his use of a staple gun to hang Christmas lights is OK. It’s fast and cheap, right?
Not true! Anything that penetrates your roof shingles creates a weak point that can cause cracks, let moisture in, and cause long-term water damage that will be expensive to fix. After all, the whole point of a roof is to be a protective barrier that shields your home and family from the elements. Whether you’re considering screws, nails, or staples, don’t ever poke holes in your roof’s surface!
Even worse, the staples can rub against the plastic coating on your Christmas lights, exposing the wiring and causing a fire and electrocution hazard.
If you absolutely insist on stapling Christmas lights, make sure you use specialty insulated staples with a plastic cover, and staple the lights to wood trim – NEVER to your shingles. But read on, because there are much better and safer ways to get your home merry and bright for the holiday season!
Smart Solutions: Plastic Light Clips & More!
Meet your new best friend: plastic light clips. They’re inexpensive, easy to find at hardware stores or online, and most importantly, they won’t damage your roof! Christmas Lights Etc has a great guide to the wide variety of styles, whether you want to hang larger C7 or C9 bulbs, mini lights, icicle lights, or an eye-popping combination of them all.
If at all possible, use the clips on gutters, eaves, or siding. Many plastic light clips also attach to shingles, but they can abrade the surface of the shingle and wear away granules, especially in high winds.
To easily install lights with plastic light clips:
- Check your lights: Make sure they’re still working, check for any damage like exposed wiring, replace any broken bulbs, and make sure you’re not using indoor lights outside.
- Find your outlets: This will help you plan how many strands you need in each part of the house. Check the packaging to see how many strands of lights can be safely connected to one outlet, and make sure you’re not mixing LEDs and incandescents on the same circuit.
- Check your gutters: If a gutter or fixture is loose, it’s better to repair it now, rather than waiting until it falls off and drags half your Christmas decorations with it.
- Attach the light clips to your Christmas lights: Do this safely on the ground, so there’s less to do while you’re up the ladder.
- Seal all connections: Most blown fuses are caused by moisture getting into the connections between strings of lights to each other. Seal each connection and loose end with duct tape or electrical tape. In extremely wet conditions, you can even cut holes in a small plastic container and secure the connection inside!
If you’re still not a fan of light clips, don’t reach for the staple gun just yet. There are a few more simple and safe plastic options.
Zipties are the best way to attach lights to railings, and really anywhere else that makes sense. They attach quickly and can be removed just as fast with a sharp pair of scissors.
You can also get 3M Command Clips designed for hanging lights, with adhesive strips that remove cleanly when you pull them slowly. This may be a great option for you, although some reviewers say they don’t hold up to wind, rain, and uneven surfaces.
DIY enthusiasts may even want to make a custom Christmas light system, which involves permanently attaching the lights to a bar or pipe. Install hooks under your eaves to hold the bars, and you’ll definitely win the award for “fastest Christmas light setup” every year afterwards.
The Creviers made a custom system with PVC pipe, zip ties, and broomstick clips – there’s even a video if you want to see the installation in action – and Christine Graves made a clever system by drilling holes into a J-Channel bar for perfectly spaced lights every year.
Deck the Halls – Safely!
14,000 people are injured due to holiday decorating every year – that’s 230 injuries per day! Thanksgiving and Christmas are already stressful and expensive enough, so here’s how to make sure that you and your family members aren’t part of that group.
Leave the Roof Climbing to Santa
Our number one safety tip is to not walk on your roof! For one thing, it damages your shingles, wearing away at the protective granules on top of them.
But more importantly, no matter how careful you are, anyone who doesn’t work on roofs regularly is at risk of falling and severely injuring themselves.
Of course, we’ve been in this business long enough to know that some people will head up to their rooftops anyway, so if you’re one of them, here are our tips:
- Walk gently and wear soft sneakers that have a good grip
- Limit the time spent on the roof to avoid unnecessary stress
- If you have shingles, try to place your foot in the center of each shingle, not on the lower edge where the shingles overlap
- If you have a tile roof, walk on the peaks of the tiles and not in the valleys between them
Find an Elf to Help with the Ladder
It’s always better to have a ladder buddy! They can hold the ladder in place, hand you the supplies and decorations, and offer encouragement (or maybe just laughter) from the ground.
Falls from ladders are one of the most common causes of holiday injury, so follow these tips to make sure your decorating is successful and pain-free:
- Make sure the ladder is on stable, level ground
- Use an extension ladder, not a step ladder. The last thing you want is to be teetering on tip-toes at the top of a step ladder that’s too short!
- Be mindful of your center of gravity: don’t reach too far to the side. Get into the habit of climbing down and moving the ladder.
For a Style that Sleighs Them
We can’t wrap up our post without showing you some beautiful Christmas light inspiration. You’ve heard our message – don’t staple Christmas lights to your roof! – so now enjoy these beautiful homes as you plan your own holiday decorations.
Traditional Christmas Lights
For a traditional look, keep the lights white and aim for symmetry. There are three varieties of white LED lights. Warm white mimics the glow of classic incandescent bulbs, polar white gives off an icy-blue tinge and pure white is just what it sounds like. We recommend using a mix of warm white and polar-white, using warm white along your roof line and polar-white in any greenery.
Classic and Colorful Christmas Lights
If you want to introduce some color but still have a traditional style, then less is more!
Go Big or Go Home: Extravagant Christmas Lights
If you want your home to really stand out, then mix up the colors you choose, increase the number of bulbs, and use different sized bulbs across your home.
Minimalist Christmas Lights
If you prefer a minimalist look – or you’re short on time but don’t want to be the neighborhood Grinch – then this look is for you.
LED Projection Christmas Lights
For major impact with minimal effort, try LED projection spotlights. Simply plug them into an outlet and project them on your home and you’re done!
From all of us at Designer Roofing, Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We hope you enjoy the holiday season and please be safe!