How to: Christmas Lights on a Steep Roof

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Untangle and test your exterior holiday lights before you go outside.
Untangle and test your exterior holiday lights before you go outside. (Image: Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you’re going all out with a Christmas light display, the roof is too large a surface area to ignore. A steep roof requires a few more safety and logistical considerations than a flat or slightly sloped roof. Ask a friend or older child to assist; they can hand you tools and keep a foot on the base of your ladder for extra stability. Though it may seem urgent to get those lights up, avoid rushing the project, and beware of going up on a steep roof on a windy day.

Buy or rent a ladder that is tall enough to reach your roof. Stepladders are your most stable option, and easier to use without damaging trim, gutters or siding. If you’re unable to find a stepladder that reaches high enough, use an extension that reaches past the roofline, and lean it on the top edge of your roof.

Stock up on exterior light hangers. You can find these at large discount stores. Get gutter clips or shingle edge clips that don’t require tools for mounting. If neither type of clip works, head to the hardware store. Look at hardware used for hanging cables like plastic clips with a nail hole.

Create a design plan for your roof lights. Test every strand, and arrange them on the ground in the order you plan to put them up. Throw out any strands with exposed wire and replace any broken bulbs.

Divide your lighting plan into sections that you can put up from one place at a time. Connect the light strings you need for each section.

Attach light hangers to each section.

Wrap the lights for the first section in a neat coil that fits around your shoulder. Swing your arms to ensure you can attach the lights with one hand and support the lights with the other.

Climb the ladder and attach your first section of lights. Follow this process for each section, attaching the last strand from the previous section to the first strand of the next section as you go.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you can't avoid leaning on the gutter, place a two-by-four inside the gutter for support.
  • Avoid using nails or staples directly on your light strands. If you tear through the wire, you could damage the lights or even start a fire.

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