How to choose the exterior lighting for your front entry

Jul 01, 2016

an old colonial stone house

The way you light your front entry in the evening not only illuminates the entrance, but enhances the look. You have various choices for exterior lighting here—ceiling mount (flush-mount or pendant), sconces, or both. A flush-mount exterior light fixture is ideal for an entryway with a low ceiling. Sconces work great when there is no ceiling at all. If your porch has a high ceiling, a pendant light adds an attractive accent. Just make sure you have at least seven feet of clearance between the bottom of the pendant and the floor. Any ceiling fixture should have a six-inch clearance above the top of the door.

Consider your home’s style when deciding on the lighting for your front entry. Look at the style of the windows, so that the light fixture complements this key architectural feature. Choose a metal that coordinates with the metal on your door’s hardware, and any other metal accents on your home’s exterior. It’s helpful to bring along photos of your home’s façade when shopping for the light fixtures.

Your lights should eliminate and illuminate all dark areas at the entrance, for security purposes, while also giving a welcoming cast of light.

Safe lighting for your front entry requires a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating of damp- or wet-rated, depending on how much exposure your exterior lighting will have to the elements. A dry-rated light isn’t a safe choice or exterior use.

If you’re choosing wall sconces to adorn each side of your front door, make sure you choose fixtures that are proportional of the entry. A double-door entry, for example, should not be fitted with tiny sconces. Conversely, don’t mount overly large sconces that overpower the size of the doorway. A good guide is to choose a sconce that is approximately one-fourth the height of your door (including the casement).

Check the maintenance and warranty on your light fixture. It should be easy to clean, and protected for one or two years.

These are just the basics. Once you get to the lighting styles, you’ll have many more choices to make!

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