How to light a porch

A porch is a threshold between your home and the outside world – a place to greet guests, to shelter while you find your keys (or when you’ve lost them!) – and it also creates that all-important first impression. Find out how to make your porch a stylish, well-lit and inviting space, with our guide...


What’s the best kind of lighting for a porch?

The best kind of lighting for a porch depends on a number of factors, including its size and layout, whether it’s open or enclosed, and the effect you want to achieve. By using a range of different types of lighting, you can ensure you have plenty of illumination while creating a warm and welcoming space.

When lighting a porch, you need to make sure there is enough light, while at the same time not overdoing it with too much harsh or overly bright lighting. As with indoor lighting, where possible it’s best to use a combination of different types of lighting and to layer your light, rather than relying on a single outdoor fixture. The most popular choices for lighting a porch include ceiling lights, pendant lights and wall lights (perhaps with some additional freestanding table lamps or floor lamps, where appropriate, in an enclosed porch).

It’s also important to take into account the exterior style of the building and your interior design scheme when choosing your porch light fittings. As a general rule, you should choose a lighting scheme which complements your overall design aesthetic. With the right lighting, your porch can make a style statement which sets the tone for the rest of your home.

How much light do you need in a porch?

The first step to lighting a porch is making sure there’s sufficient light to ensure a safe passage and banish any dark corners, but without causing any unwanted glare.

Today’s LED lighting is measured in lumens, and as a general rule of thumb you should aim for multiple fixtures of around 200 lumens each, depending on the size of the space and the number of fittings. (Find out more about calculating lumens with our handy guide.)

When choosing your lighting, you should take into account any available natural light, as well as other sources of light, such as light shining from nearby windows, street lamps or glass door panels. Note that your choice of lightbulb can also affect the strength and tone of the light – a warm white will offer a softer glow in a porch than a cool white.

Having separate controls for your porch lighting can help you to switch between your different layers of light as required. Finally, installing some dimmer switches will allow you complete control over the levels of lighting in your porch.


Do you need IP-rated outdoor lights in a porch?

Another thing you need to consider is how exposed your porch is to the elements – the short answer is yes, you do need to use outdoor wall lights in your porch if they’re going to be in either direct or indirect contact with adverse weather conditions, including rain, snow, and damp or salt air.

Exterior lights are given an IP safety rating, which refers to how well they’re protected from the ingress of foreign particles and moisture. Our exterior lights are extensively tested for outdoor use and are graded accordingly.

If your porch is sheltered and will provide protection against direct contact with the elements,  IP44 damp-rated fixtures will suffice, but for porticos and more open styles of porch you should choose an IP65 wet-rated fixture. 

For wilder and more exposed locations, we also recommend choosing a light fitting made from a robust material such as brass or copper, which will weather those storms beautifully.


Using ceiling lights in a porch

It’s important to provide plenty of general or ambient light in a porch. Ceiling lights are a popular choice, and can take a number of forms including recessed lighting, flush-mounted ceiling lights and pendant lights.

Flush-mounted or recessed ceiling lights can be a good option for smaller porches, as they take up a minimal amount of space and will cast plenty of ambient light around the entrance way. However, it’s important to note that they will send the majority of the light downwards and this can create shadows.

Pendant lights are another common form of overhead lighting in a porch, and this style of lighting will send some of the light outwards as well as down. It’s best to choose a fitting which doesn’t hang too low – aim for the bottom of the pendant to sit no lower than 7 feet from the floor of the porch.


Creating atmosphere in a porch with wall lights

Outdoor wall lights are another fabulous option for lighting a porch, and can be used to supplement any existing ceiling lighting or in their own right. As well as providing plenty of ambient lighting, they will add a lovely soft welcoming glow, and can help to eradicate any shadows caused by overhead lighting.

In an open style of porch, a pair of matching wall lights placed either side of the front door creates a dramatic look and will provide good illumination around the door area. Meanwhile, in a larger or wraparound porch, a set of decorative wall lights spaced evenly along the length of the inside wall will highlight the space and provide warmth and ambience.

Our outdoor wall lights come in a huge range of different shapes, sizes and materials, from ornate brass and bronze lanterns for a traditional feel, to sleek cylindrical pillar lights for a more contemporary vibe.

If you’re looking for a classic touch, lanterns are a particularly popular choice for lighting a porch. A carriage or fisherman style of fitting will provide a good amount of light while also making a beautiful style statement. Meanwhile, if space is an issue, you can opt for a more compact and unobtrusive design, such as our Thurleston round wall light.

As a general rule of thumb, wall lights should be placed at around shoulder height with the top of the wall light sitting at eye level, to avoid glare from the lightbulb.


Using uplighters to create accents in a porch

Uplighters and downlighters can also be used to beautiful effect in a porch. An 'uppy or downy' wall light such as our Portreath up and down light will provide a warm wash of light while adding texture and interest.

Uplighters can also be used to add accents and emphasise favourite features within your porch, such as stonework or arches, ornate windows or carvings, or a piece of statement art or furniture.

Finally, for a subtle – almost magical – feel, try placing some uplighters by a pair of planters to gently illuminate the foliage.


Browse Pooky's range of outdoor wall lights here.


See also:

How to light an entrance hall

Using designer lighting in a bathroom - a safety and style guide