How To Choose Outdoor Wall Lighting

Outdoor wall lighting is a surprisingly important accent on a home. In addition to the functionality of providing safe lighting, a well-chosen lighting fixture can go towards the whole style of your home.

Below we'll cover the different considerations for outdoor wall lighting, such as types, finishes, styles, and safety.

Table of Contents Hide

What type of outdoor wall lighting should I choose?

Outdoor lighting comes in several main types, all of which serve a different function:

  • Spotlights: These are defined by shinning brilliant light in one direction. Use these if you have a certain area you want to illuminate or design feature you want to accent.

  • Floodlights: These are used to lighten up larger areas. For instance, you might put a floodlight on the side of the house to illuminate the back yard for a pet that goes outside at night

  • Up/Downlights: These are meant to shine up the side of a wall. They can create beautiful accent lighting for a house at night, as they cast shadows over the siding and windowsills.

Spotlight Outdoor Wall Lighting
Camera Styled Spotlight Outdoor Wall Lighting
Floodlights LED Outdoor Wall Lighting
Up and Down Outdoor Wall Lighting
Bronze Up and Down Outdoor Wall Lighting
Small Up and Down Outdoor Wall Lighting
  • Front entry lighting: These stick out from the side of the house and come in a wide range of styles, which we'll cover more in-depth below. They create softer general lighting by a door while imparting plenty of style.

  • Motion sensor: Some lights turn on when something moves in front of them. This is a great feature for conserving energy and creating a safer home.

  • Conventional bulb vs LED: This is an important consideration, as LED lasts longer and is less warm while on. Go with LED if energy consumption is a priority.

LED Outdoor Wall Lighting
Outdoor Wall Lantern with Motion Sensor
Small Outdoor Wall Lighting with Motion Sensor
Outdoor Wall Lantern with Bulb
Classic Front Entry Lighting
Front Entry Lighting with Bulb

What are the most popular styles of front entry outdoor wall lights?

Since outdoor wall lighting contributes to the overall style of your home, it's also important to consider its aesthetic value. Below are some of the most common styles to look for:


These are styles where the light hangs away from the wall itself. The bulb is usually encased in a traditional lantern style, hence the name. These look best in classic-styled homes, but you can find sparse, modern designs, too. 

Barn light

Another main style is the bulb hanging down from a top casing that sits away from the wall. While many barn lights look great in rustic spaces, this style also comes in modern and sleek designs

Armed sconce

These have an arm that's attached to a base, while the light itself extends outward. The light typically shines up or out, but not always. If you're looking for a more modern style, you'll want to look up outdoor lighting by the term armed sconce first. Armed sconces tend to be more geometric, modern and austere than classic lantern or barn light styles.   

Flush mount

These are flat styles that sit on the ceiling so the bulb can shine downwards, but sometimes they are put on walls too. These work in a wide variety of styles since they look so timeless. There are designs, however, that follow a certain aesthetic.

Lantern Outdoor Wall Lighting
White Lantern Outdoor Wall Lighting
Bulb Outdoor Armed Sconce
Long Outdoor Armed Sconce
Black Classic Outdoor Barn Light
LED Outdoor Flush Mount

How to choose the finish for outdoor wall lighting?

Another important feature in outdoor wall lighting is how it's finished. That gives the overall look to the light fixture. You have many different options when it comes to lighting finishes.

  • Bronze: Choose bronze for a warm and dark color. These are good for classic home styles.
  • Brass: If you're looking for brighter coloring, choose brass.
  • Copper: Copper is another texture that goes great in classic homes styles.
  • Nickel: Nickel often comes in either brushed or a slight sheen and can look great in modern styles.
  • Iron: Choose iron for a classic look.
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze: This matte texture looks great in a wide variety of styles, especially classic ones if the finish has an aged look.
  • Steel: Steel often has a high silvery sheen, making it good for modern styles.
  • Gold: For luxury styles, go with a gold finish.
  • Silver: Silver gives a light, bright and bolder touch.
  • Chrome: Chrome is a quintessential modern finish with its high futuristic sheen.
  • Pewter: Pewter is another silvery shade with more of a matte tone. It looks great in modern and bright styles.
Gold and Opal Glass Outdoor Flush Mount
Nickel Lantern Outdoor Wall Lighting
Bronze Outdoor Wall Lantern
Stainless Steel Outdoor Wall Lighting
Chrome Slim Outdoor Wall Lighting
Pewter Outdoor Wall Lantern

What are some safety considerations when choosing outdoor wall lighting?

If you follow the instructions, many wall lights are fairly easy to install. However, if you have to do any re-wiring, you may want to consult an electrician. Some outdoor wall lighting designs are even remotely or wirelessly controlled now, so if you don't want to mess with the wiring, you may want to look into that option. 

You should also make sure the model is solid as far as any weatherproofing goes. It should work in rain, snow or humidity. It should say that it is weatherproof, weather-resistant or suitable for wet locations. Also, be sure to use outdoor-rated bulbs and only use the bulbs that fixture is rated for.  

You may also want to look into smart outdoor lighting. Smart outdoor lighting has many security features that help make your home a safer place:

  • As mentioned above, many smart models are motion-activated, which is often used to deter burglars.

  • Some smart outdoor wall lighting even has cameras integrated into them so you can see what's going on outside, even at night.

  • You may want to consider outdoor lighting that has a timer feature. This can be useful for security when you are on vacation or otherwise away from home, since it makes it look like someone is home.

  • Some smart lights work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to help you control the light remotely.

  • You can even talk with visitors through the light or play recorded messages and sounds.

  • With camera models, you can see through an app what is going on and call 911 or sound an alarm when necessary.