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Easy Christmas Light Installation Using Hot Glue

Clip 'em, hook 'em, hang 'em - when it comes to installing outside Christmas lights, you have several options available for getting the job done. If you're an experienced installer, you may have used many different methods for attaching lights to structures. And if you're a newbie installer, you might be wondering how best to accomplish that task.

Different situations, of course, call for different approaches. But for certain types of surfaces, sticking 'em might be your very best bet. Using glue applied with a hot glue gun is a quick and easy method of installing Christmas lights. And for some situations, it's the best method of installing lights.

Brick, Concrete or Stucco? Glue's Probably the Way to Go.

Electric hot glue gun for installing xmas lightsThree surfaces that are custom-made for hot glue installation are brick, concrete and stucco. Other attachment methods on these surfaces can be slow, difficult, or even damaging. But using hot glue is quick and easy, and the glue holds very well due to the rough surfaces of these materials.

A note of caution: Some stucco can be damaged by using hot glue. Solid stucco should be fine. But stucco is sometimes applied in a thin layer over a Styrofoam backing, and the temperature of the glue may cause melting of the Styrofoam.

You can get an idea of whether your stucco has a Styrofoam backing by tapping lightly on the surface. If you suspect that your stucco is backed by Styrofoam but you still want to try using hot glue, consider using a glue that melts at a lower temperature, along with a gun that generates less heat or has variable temperature settings. You might also want to avoid glues with the strongest adhesive properties.

Other situations for which hot glue might not be the best option include:

  • Painted Surfaces. Some paint is likely to come off with the glue when you remove your lights at the end of the season.
  • Metal Surfaces. The smoothness of most metal surfaces makes hot glue less effective. Consider using magnetic clips for metal surfaces that contain a ferrous element.
  • Plastic Surfaces. Most glue guns generate enough heat to cause melting or warping of plastic surfaces.
  • Smaller Light Sets. This method of installation works best with larger sized bulbs. With smaller bulbs - particularly mini-lights - it's more difficult to avoid getting the glue where you don't want it, and there's less surface area to work with on the bulb housing.

Christmas lightsAlso, you should be aware that when you take your lights down at the end of the season, there's likely to be a bit of glue residue left on the surface. Wind, rain and UV light from the sun will wear away that residue with time. But there will almost certainly be some residue left when you remove your lights. That might be a factor in determining where you'll use hot glue for installing your lights.

Tips For Installing Your Christmas Lights Using Hot Glue

If you've decided to give the hot glue method a try, here are a few tips for doing the job right:

  • Bulbs In or Bulbs Out? Consider waiting until your light string is installed before screwing in all the bulbs. Leaving the bulbs out while you're installing the string makes the whole process a bit easier, and you'll avoid the risk of smearing glue on the bulbs. And the bulbs can be quickly and easily screwed into the sockets once the line is in place.
  • Careful Where You Place That Glue. As you glue each light socket in place, apply a bead of glue to the SIDE of the socket opposite from the socket's clip, and not to the BASE of the socket. Applying glue to the base could cause problems during removal, leading to the socket becoming detached from the cord.
  • Need to Remove Glue Residue? If you need to remove as much glue residue as possible when you take your lights down, you can use a heat gun to soften the glue and make it easier to scrape off. Remember, though, that using glue on a rough surface like concrete, brick or stucco will unavoidably result in a bit of glue residue being left behind.

Quick, Easy, and Yes - Fun!

Using glue to install your Christmas lights is a low-cost, quick and easy method of installation. It's the technique that most professional installers use in appropriate situations. And it's kind of fun, too.

After all, how many of us have really outgrown our childhood joy of playing with glue? Not this big kid!

About the author: Jason Woodward is Director of eCommerce for, a leading supplier of Christmas lights and decoration products. Christmas Designers caters to all Christmas enthusiasts, including private homeowners and professional installation contractors. You can also find Jason on Google+