Make a Bitchin’ Backyard Barn Board Light.

Need an idea for outdoor lighting?  Sure you do. Everyone does. You can whip up this barn board light in about an hour, hang it, and then invite all your friends and family over to gloat and show off.  Sounds like the perfect summer day to me.

First can we all admire the slumpy, melted, battery operated candles I have in my lanterns?  They look like my thighs at the end of winter.

NOW we can all admire the barn board light hanging on my fence. I made the original barn board light about 6 years ago and it hung in that very spot faithfully the entire time.  I’ll tell you how it came about.  I had bought a set of 8 deck lights at Costco that I thought I could use somewhere in my backyard.  Turned out once I got them home there wasn’t a really great place to put them.

It all worked out though because as I held them in my hand, eyes darting around for any place to put them, my glance landed on some barn board I had in the corner of my yard.  Within an hour I had made a light and hung it up that was WAY more impressive than sticking these in a deck would ever be.

Honestly. One hour.  And I had to figure it out as I went.  For you, this DIY backyard lighting option should take you about 7.5 minutes.  Well … between 7.5 minutes and an hour.

Here’s how you do it.

DIY Outdoor Barn Board Light

*note – the sizes are optional. You can make a bigger board with more lights or smaller board with less*


13″ x 57″ x 1″ piece of barn board (this is what I had, you can make yours bigger or smaller)

6 – 10 deck lights with transformer

Eye screws

Clips (optional)

Staple gun and staples

Drill and spade drill bit


  1.  Grab yourself a piece of barn board.  This is genuine, old barn board, but most lumberyards also carry barn board.  Leave it outside it’ll get that trademark silvery colour in no time.

2. Mark where you want the lights to go on your wood and drill holes with a spade bit.  The size of the hole will depend on the size of the deck lights you have.  Many sets will come with the right drill bit with them.

3. Screw large eye screws onto the back of the board.  These will be for hanging.

4. You can also put Carabiner clips on the eye screw. I did this because of how I was going to hang my board on large L brackets on my fence.


5. Gather and separate your lights.

6. Shove all the wires from each light through the holes, leaving just the light on the front side of the board.


You’ll end up with a mess of wires on the back.  Tidy them up with twist ties.

7.  Attach all the lights together by screwing their leads into each other.

8.  CAREFULLY staple over a few of the wires to prevent them from moving.  Most staplers have a position button that lets you position the staples up high, so they don’t squish down tight.  You can also carefully hammer in a few staples instead of using the staple gun.


9. Hang your light (and plug them in).  I have L brackets slipped through the boards of my fence and then slip the clips over them. I just use the top two clips.  The bottom 2 are in case I ever want to hang it flat over a table from rope or chain.


I’ve just tucked the wire into the cracks of my fence and it basically disappears.

The set of deck lights I ordered from Costco came with a sensor that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn.  These  lights also have 3 brightness settings which I loveeee.  Low, medium and high.



Of all the things I’ve made for my backyard, including the pizza oven, the chicken coop, and the Restoration Hardware furniture hack,  this light has given me the most amount of gain for the least amount of pain.  Easy, fast, and everyone who sees it asks where I bought it.

Well, I mean, people who have never met or heard of me before ask this.

Everyone else just looks at it, rolls their eyes and tells me to make the gloating and showing off portion of the evening short.


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Make a Bitchin’ Backyard Barn Board Light.


  1. linda in illinois says:

    Fantastic, I love it.

  2. Monica says:

    I’ve been on the hunt for a new outdoor dining set. Where is your black one from?

    • Karen says:

      Ikea, but it’s from years ago so I’m pretty sure they don’t carry it anymore. :/ You could check there though, they normally have lots of great outdoor stuff for good prices. ~ karen!

  3. Bev Bennett says:

    Sorry for your loss. Keep up the great blogs

  4. JodyG says:

    Lez – Mine also melted from being in the sun. Believe it or not, I sort of though of them as being made of some sort of a composite material that resembled wax. Not that I thought of them very much, anyway. That was why I was surprised when it melted.

  5. Linda says:

    Really cool… I like the vintage modern mix. Living on the west coast, I immediately thought of using a large piece of driftwood (free!). The lights could be placed in a curve-y line following the shape of the wood, like a wave! Thanks for the inspiration! But so busy enjoying the sunny, warm, dry, bug-free summer that I’ll have to put this project on the back burner for now. Sorry, couldn’t resist after all the summer-haters at the beginning of the comments ;) I LOVE SUMMER!!!

  6. JodyG says:

    I have a similar lantern and my battery operated candle melted in it, also. Dumb me – I did not think it would. So when I saw that yours have I felt vindicated. Love barn board. Really like your barn board lighting. It encourages me to get out some more of my 13 lanterns and use them, instead of being afraid I am overdoing a good thing.

    • Lez says:

      Goodness JodyG, I didn’t realise that Karen’s battery operated candles had ACTUALLY melted, I thought she had bought them like that, to look more authentic, until I read your comment!
      Wow, that seems like quite a fire hazard & could be dangerous, especially in a childs’ room for example!
      Thanks for the ‘Heads up’!

      • Karen says:

        Hi Lez. They’re just battery operated so there’s no flame. There’s no real hazard with them even if they do melt. The only reason they melted is because they were outside in full sun behind glass which makes the suns rays even stronger. :) ~ karen!

  7. Ev Wilcox says:

    We have an enclosed back porch right off the kitchen. It also open onto the wraparound deck. I have to say that I agree with the summer haters, which is why the majority of the time we are on the porch. Screened large windows defy the mosquitos, bees, and flys! We are the original “Addams family” in that we enjoy summer storms and watching the snow fall too. The deck is good too, because we can sit and be with our two cats, whom we love, and they love us back. But when the mosquitos realize we are out there, we are back on the porch! And we really do love our kitties (rescues), but my eldest son and my daughter and I have allergies, so no indoor cats for us. Summer also cranks up my asthma on humid days, so I sort of dread it’s arrival every year. Lucky that my husband had the ability to build the porch and deck. Grateful.

  8. Deb says:

    Fantastic lighting …. but, how are they powered?

    Do you plug it in? Need hydro?


  9. Teri (on the 'Wet Coast') says:

    Karen you’re back yard is stunning. And good lighting just ‘makes’ a room doncha think? I’m off to find a derelict barn…

  10. Jack says:

    Two things…..what is the source of power for these lights…..are they plug in or battery operated? Second item is just a matter of handy man/woman stuff. I read that the drill bit you refer to as a “spade bit” can also be called a “paddle bit”. Your woodworking acumen is now complete.

    • Karen says:

      Yes they plug in. I thought people would understand that when I referred to the transformer, showed a picture of the actual plug and talked about running the wire down my fence board. But they did not, lol. I think you’re the third person to ask about the power so I’ve updated the post. ~ karen!

      • Susan says:

        I missed that part, too – I couldn’t figure out where the power source was, and couldn’t see the cord. I think we were all dazzled by the pics and skipped reading that part.

    • Admiral Tweezers says:


      Take a close look at the first image which lays out all of the lighting with cabling. Note the power adapter? It appears these are low voltage lights requiring the also pictured transformer which then in turn is plugged into a regular outlet. Thus, not battery powered.


  11. Emie says:

    LOVE this…. I like lights in any shape or form especially one’s that spruce up outdoor areas.

  12. Marna says:

    So cool! :)

  13. Catt-in-Kentucky says:

    Very cool!

  14. Dana says:

    Another cool thing in your already-cool backyard & I love it! Backyard related question-do you leave your RH hack furniture cushions out all the time? Are they water repellent? Hubby works at IKEA and they have those big sails there.

  15. Marguerite says:

    Wonderful, but are these solar lights? Is that why there’s no plug or place to plug into and no batteries?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marguerite. No, you plug them in, that’s what all the wires on the back are from. You connect them all and then plug them in. I say at the end of the post that I just run the wire down the fence to disguise it. ~ karen!

  16. JK PACCHETTI says:

    Bitchin’. :)

  17. Paula says:

    Great idea! This is about the amount of time that I am willing to spend on a DIY during the beginning (relatively) of gardening season.

  18. Tina says:

    Does anyone else feel like “ok, I’ve done my stuff, it’s about time for winter”? My garden isn’t even harvestable yet and there’s nothing to do but wait for veg and stuff (and pull the occasional weed) and I just feel done. I’m ready for hearty soups and heavy bread.

    • Thera says:

      Me! I don’t have a garden, but hate summer, the excessive heat, bugs, slumpiness, overpacked beaches and towns. Let’s just get to Fall already!

      • Susan Claire says:

        Thank you Thera, I also hate summer. Well, I like all the good stuff from my garden, and I love the fact that I can have cantaloupe every morning for breakfast, but for the reasons you listed, not to mention my electric bill from running the a/c, I HATE summer.

        • Teri says:

          Spoken like people who live way south of the 49th!
          Here in the Great White North, where we often get only two seasons, ‘winter’ and ‘2 months of road construction’ and where, in my area, we’re enjoying Junuary, the thought of summer is what keeps us going all year.

      • Tina says:

        Yup! Fall is lovely! I’m tired of bugs and I don’t hate the snow (I’m outside Boston) so I’m ready!

        • Susan Claire says:

          We don’t get fall here-we barely get winter anymore. It’s always shorts and flip-flops season, and while it sounds like paradise, I wouldn’t mind a little snowfall.

  19. Lynn says:

    That’s so cool 😎 , now I need to go to Costco lol.

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