How To Hang Christmas Lights Without Nails

Posted by Doug Topham on 3/16/2016
How To Hang Christmas Lights Without Nails

One of the biggest problems people have is how to actually attach lights to a building or roof line.  We can all envision how we would like the lights to look, we just cannot get the lights to physically stay where we want them without hammering a hole in the building. 

There are some easy ways and some hard ways to hang lights without nails or screws.  Although these methods will work with many different types of lights, they usually work best with a particular type of Christmas light.

Use Christmas Light Clips

First, to outline a roof line, it is usually easiest to use a light clip.   While there are many different types of clips, the best clip for most applications is an All-in-one-clip.  This clip can be used with mini lights (LED or incandescent) as well as C-9, or C-7 Christmas lights.

It is usually easiest to attach all of the clips to the Christmas lights first.  This saves time when you are going to be up on a ladder or a roof.  It is also easier to do this while sitting in the comfort of your living room watching TV than while squatting on the roof trying to keep from falling off.  The tab on the all in one clip is made to fit on a number of surfaces.  They will slide under the fascia strip on building trim, under shingles, or on tiles.  On some roofs, you can choose the tile or the trip strip at your preference.  Below are some pictures of different places that the same clip can be used.

Some pointers to get the best look with clips.  If you are using the clips on "S" shaped tile, make sure you place the clip on the same position on every tile.  For example, you may want to place it at the top pf each tile, or at the bottom of the valley.  It does not matter as long as it is the same on each tile.

On shingle roofs, pull gently on the wire to keep the bulbs spaced the same distance apart as you go across the front of the roof.  As long as the wire has very little slack, the lights will remain evenly spaced.  Also, push the clips onto the shingle the same depth on each shingle.

Another good method is to use magnetic Christmas light clips.  If you have metal flashing or a metal roof, this can be an excellent method.  Most magnetic clips are strong enough that they will hold lights up in strong winds, and even with some snow.  Obviously, with a heavy snow, they may push the lights off.  As long as the lights are LED, you will probably not have any broken bulbs. 

We installed a commercial light line (C-9)  job in Flagstaff this year with magnetic clips and hand snow several times, and did not have any problem with the snow pulling the lights down.  Magnetic clips are extremely easy to remove, and they are my favorite method of installation when the clips will work.


Make sure the magnets will adhere to the metal you are trying to install the lights on.  Not all metals will work.  Aluminum and some other metals will not work.  If you are unsure, test a magnet on the metal, or just order a sample clip to check.

Note about light line with Magnets built in: I do not like this method as much as the separate clips.  It is just my personal preference, but I have not had as good of an experience with the light line with magnets formed in.  Call me if you want the gory details, but it is far better to have the clips than the magnetic light line.


It is best to decide where you are going to run power to your lights before you install them.  Look for where on your roof that you can run a cord that will be the least noticeable and intrusive.  That is usually where you want your power.

It is often easier to run the cord over the roof and plug in the back of the house than the front.  This keeps cords from hanging visibly in the front of the house.   

Some Caution Notes About Power

Most homes have outlets that are combined onto circuits with other outlets or other power uses.  For many people, they want to run the power for their Christmas Lights from the garage.  While this may make logical sense, it may also cause problems.  Many garages are wired on the same circuits as the bathroom in the home.  So while the lights are on, if a hair dryer (or other high power usage appliance) is plugged in the bathroom, the breaker may trip.  If you are installing lights on any circuit, it makes sense to check what else is on the circuit to make sure you have enough power.  While LED lights will reduce the power challenges, it may not totally eliminate them.  

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