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Outdoor lighting has a major impact on how your exterior spaces look and feel. They also improve safety and security around walkways, doorways, decks and patios. Replacing your outdoor wall lighting might seem like a complicated task, but many homeowners can handle this DIY project. This guide will explain how to change an outdoor light fixture on siding, brick, stucco and more.
Choose a Light Fixture
Before you can change an outdoor light fixture, you’ll need to have the new one ready for installation. Here are a few tips to help guide you toward the right light fixtures for your outdoor space:
- Shop for single light or multi-bulb styles. Single bulbs are often best for smaller areas, but low wattage multi-bulb designs can add a decorative style to an elegant space like an outdoor dining area or patio.
- Try matching existing outdoor accents. Does your home have rounded, soft traditional features? Maybe it’s modern and made up of geometric shapes? Look for outdoor light fixtures that complement the overall structure and look of your home.
- Choose outdoor light fixtures that match your existing hardware pieces like door handles. You can also match your outdoor sconces and wall lights to pieces of furniture like outdoor dining tables, chairs or lounge furniture.
Tip: Check out our outdoor lighting buying guide for more ideas.
While this guide is intended for learning how to install an exterior light fixture on siding, it can be used for most types of housing materials. However, some materials may present special challenges. Special considerations are explained below.
Remove the Old Light Fixture
- Turn off the power to your exterior fixtures by flipping the switch on your circuit breaker. You need to do this before you begin to avoid any risk of electrical shock.
- Remove your old light fixture. All light fixtures are a little different, but to remove most models, you will need to unscrew the screws with a drill or screwdriver.
- Other fixtures may use clips that can be removed by hand. Place your old fixture out of the way before moving on.
- Remove the plastic caps that are covering the exposed ends of wire. Untwist the wire ends to decouple them. Typically you’ll see pairs of black, white and pure copper-colored wires, but your model may vary.
- Remove the old light fixture mount with your screwdriver or drill.
- Avoid pushing exposed wires back into the wall as you do this, as they can be very hard to retrieve later.
Install the New Mount
- Put your new mount against the wall to check for placement.
- If possible, take advantage of the same guide holes that your last mount used.
- You can also move your new mount positioning slightly and drill new guide holes for installation without patching and filling the old holes.
Wire the New Light Fixture
- Wrap the ground wire from the fixture to the ground bolt on your mount. Check your manufacturer’s instructions to verify that you have the ground wire and bolt correct.
- Screw the bolt down tightly so it is held firmly in place.
- Twist the ground wire coming from your light fixture to the ground wire coming from the wall using a clockwise motion. Make sure they are firmly connected.
- Twist your wire cap on to secure the two wires.
- Twist the white wire from the light fixture to the white wire coming from the wall using a clockwise motion. Use a wire cap to secure the two white wires together.
- Twist the black wire from the light fixture to the black wire coming from the wall using a clockwise motion. Use a wire cap to secure the two black wires together.
- Bend the wires together so they’ll fit behind your light fixture base. You can use a tie to hold your wiring together if you have a difficult time.
Make the Final Adjustments
- Finish securing the light fixture to the mounting plate.
- Some models will vary, but most outdoor light fixtures use a screw or clip design to hold your new fixture in place.
- Make sure your new outdoor light fixture is firmly attached to the wall. Check that it is straight and make adjustments if necessary.
- Insert the correct bulb or bulbs into your light fixture, then turn the power on and check your outdoor light to make sure it works properly.
- Repeat this process for other exterior lights around your home.
Tip: Turning the power off when changing an outdoor light fixture is not optional. You’ll also need to ensure that your power is off if you’re tackling a task like learning how to install a porch light from scratch or beginning an outdoor light fixture repair.
How to Install an Outdoor Light Fixture on Brick, Stone or Stucco
Figuring out how to install an exterior light fixture on stucco, brick and stone may present a few unique challenges. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
- Consider using the existing back plate when installing a new outdoor lighting fixture. This can be especially helpful if your home is made from hard to work with materials like stone. In many cases, you can simply attach your new fixture mount to the existing back plate, helping you cut down on drilling. You’ll still need to handle all of the wiring the same way.
- When you’re trying to change an outdoor light fixture mounted on natural stone walls, rent or purchase a hammer drill, especially if you’re creating your own guide holes. Otherwise, try to use your existing guide holes if leaving the previous mounting hardware in place is not an option.
- Add a masonry bit to your arsenal if you need to drill guide holes in brick for your mounting hardware. A masonry drill bit will help you do more precise work considerably faster. You’ll also avoid damaging your standard electric drill bit.
- Use wall anchors when you mount your new back plate or wall mount if you’re working with a material like stucco. This is especially important if you’re switching to a heavier outdoor fixture that will need additional support.
Learning how to change an outdoor light fixture on stone, brick, stucco, vinyl siding or any other material is a straightforward process. Use these instructions for outdoor light fixture repairs as well so you can get the most out of your backyard, front yard, patio, garden or walkway.