How do I Choose the Best Exterior Sconces?

T. Alaine

Installing exterior sconces is an excellent way that you can improve the beauty and utility of an outdoor space. Unlike most indoor sconces, which are often purely decorative, exterior sconces need to be durable and functional enough to perform well under stress from environmental factors. The best exterior sconces fulfill their dual role as functional decorations by being rugged enough to survive outdoors while appearing refined enough to complement their setting.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

When selecting outdoor sconces, be careful not to confuse them with sconces meant for use indoors. Exterior sconces are designed to hold light bulbs, which are typically hidden behind glass or plastic. In contrast, interior sconces are usually meant to hold candles, which makes them quite useless outdoors.

An important factor to consider when choosing sconces is the environment in which they will be installed. Many people choose to hang one or two exterior sconces outside the entrances to their homes to light the doorways. If your doorway is not sheltered, remember that the sconces might be exposed to sunlight, wind, rain or snow. These elements can potentially damage the sconces or cause the finish to fade, so selecting a sturdy style made of durable materials is wise.

Not all exterior sconces are unprotected. Sometimes they are hung under a protected doorway, perhaps covered by an overhang or awning. Other times, sconces are used to provide lighting on porches or decks. Instances providing greater shelter for the sconces allow more variation in style, because it is not as important for them to be particularly durable.

Light bulb wattage is another functional aspect to consider when you are picking out exterior sconces. If the area to be lit is expansive or heavily traveled, a brighter light bulb is probably a good choice. Low traffic areas, small spaces or areas where lighting is not a priority might call for lower watt bulbs, however. Considering the desired brightness is important, because not all sconces will necessarily accept every possible wattage of light bulb. You wouldn't want to select beautiful sconces only to discover they are not capable of providing enough light for the space they will occupy.

As far as style is concerned, the best exterior sconces will complement the area where they are installed. Before making a selection, take a moment to survey the setting where the sconces will hang. Sleek glass or polished metal sconces might complement a clean, modern setting, and hammered copper or stained wood sconces might look best against a rustic backdrop. Sconces come in a wide variety of styles, so finding products that incorporate effortlessly into a decorative theme and also serve a functional purpose is generally not too difficult.

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