How to Hang String Lights on Stucco

Warm string lights hanging over a stucco wall patio

There are several types of patio lights such as string lights, spotlights, floodlights, step lights, and garden lights. Out of all these patio lights, string lights are the most used. This is why I am going to focus on how to hang string lights on stucco. 

Stucco is the outermost thin layer on a wall that can be painted. Also, stucco can be defined as a finish coat that is made from a mixture of cement, sand, lime, and water. 

There are a few ways you can hang patio string lights on stucco. These are by use of hot glue, double-sided tape, screwed in hooks, and one special hook you probably don’t know about, but you will if you read to the end! 

How to Attach String Lights to Stucco Without Drilling – Use Hot Glue 

Precaution: Make sure your stucco does not have any Styrofoam backing because it can melt under hot temperatures (hot glue). Many new construction projects will use Styrofoam as a backer with a troweled on layer of finish. This system is called EIFS, or “Exterior Insulation Finish System”. It looks very similar to stucco, and in some places is actually referred to as stucco.

Gently tap the stucco to confirm the presence of Styrofoam backing. If the stucco produces a loud “solid” sound then it probably does not have a Styrofoam backer, and it is safe to use hot glue.

The Styrofoam backing is most likely present if there is not a solid sound or it sounds a bit hollow. Use hot glue with caution and the glue gun on the low setting. You don’t want to melt the styrofoam.

Also, you may want to avoid glues that have extra-strong adhesive properties because the stucco finish can come off in a chunk if something happens to pull your lights down. 

Click on the picture for our recommended hot glue gun.

Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun Kit with 30 Hot Glue Sticks

The Procedure For Directly Hanging Patio Lights From Stucco

Step 1 

It is a good idea to remove the light bulbs from the string before you attach it to the stucco. Doing this will make installation an easy process and prevent the glue from sticking to the bulb. Just make sure the string is unplugged!

Step 2 

Plug-in the glue gun and allow it to heat up. Take up the first empty bulb socket and apply a small bead of hot glue on the side. Make sure you apply glue on the opposite side of the socket clip (if there is one). I don’t recommend applying glue to the bottom or base of the socket.  

Step 3

Make sure the area on the stucco is clean where you plan on sticking the string light. Press the socket on the stucco while the glue is warm and hold on for about ten seconds to ensure it has a firm grip. A dirty surface will reduce the adhesive power of the glue. You can use a soft hand brush and mild cleaning solution to clean the surface. 

Step 4 

Repeat the process for all the bulbs around your stucco patio wall.

If you are hanging a string light with big heavy bulbs, it is a good idea to glue each socket. If there are unsupported bulbs hanging between glued sockets, the weight of the unsupported string lights may pull on and detach them from the wall.

When you are done sticking the bulb sockets, screw up the bulbs and plug them in! 

Side Note: If you ever want to remove the string lights from the hot glue, you can use a heat gun to GENTLY and SLOWLY apply heat to the glue until it melts enough to release the socket. A hair drier could be used as well.

How to Hang String Lights Using Double-sided Tape 

Step 1 

Clean up the stucco surface that will hold the tape. Use a soft brush and tri-sodium phosphate to clean the surface. Use some rubbing alcohol to make the surface extra-clean. Just apply the rubbing alcohol on a microfiber dry cloth and gently wipe the surface. 

Step 2

Open up the backside of the double-sided tape and carefully attach it to the backside of the first bulb. Press the tape against the bulb for about thirty seconds so that it gets a good seal. 

Make sure the backside of the bulb is also clean, it might have accumulated dust from the storage area. Use a dry cloth and alcohol to wipe off the dirt and dust. 

Do not use water because it does not dry up quickly therefore it can cause an electric shot. 

Step 3 

Open up the remaining side of the tape. Now press this other side onto the cleaned-up stucco surface. Press the tape against the stucco surface for about thirty seconds to get a firm seal. 

Use double-sided tape that has fibers and good adhesion power. 

Step 4 

Repeat the process with all the light bulbs on your patio. Make sure you do not skip any light bulb. You can choose to go clockwise or anti-clockwise, as long as it is in a sequence to avoid confusion. 

Adhesive Hooks For Stucco – Alternative method with double sided tape

Use the double sided tape to put up hooks instead of directly sticking the lights to the wall. This way you can change out your lights easier and much more quickly if needed.

Unfortunately normal “Command Hooks” will not stick to stucco. Those adhesive strips are designed for flat surfaces, not rough stucco. You can still use the hook, but use the recommended double sided tape below instead of the command strip.

Best Double Sided Tape To Use For Stucco

There are many double sided tapes to choose from, but your best bet would be 3M 5952 VHB double sided tape. VHB stands for “Very High Bond” and it has a foam core, so it can conform to some roughness in the stucco surface. If your stucco is very rough though, you may need to cut small pieces of the tape to stick down in the valleys and low points before sticking a larger piece over top.

Lightly tapping the tape with a rubber mallet will push the adhesive deeper into the low points on the stucco for better adhesion. Obviously do this before you peel off the outer tape cover.

Click here or the image below to see 3M VHB tape on Amazon.

3M Scotch 5952 VHB Tape: 1/2 in. x 15 ft. (Black)

How to Hang String Lights Using a Drill And Permanent Hooks

What you need 

Step 1 

Lay the string lights against the stucco wall and hold them up using ordinary masking tape. 

Step 2 

Decide on hook spacing and lightly mark the stucco using a pencil.

Step 3 

Using the drill with the masonry bit, drill pilot holes on on your pencil marks. A normal drill bit will work if you don’t have a masonry bit, but it may dull it quickly.

Fill up each pilot hole with silicone. Use the hook manufacturer’s directions for pilot hole size. If they don’t mention a drill bit size, choose one that is slightly smaller than the hook threads.

If your hook will not be at a wall stud location, it is a good idea to install an anchor into your hole first. The anchor will tell you which drill bit size to use. The windproof hooks pictured below come with anchors included.

Step 4 

Thread the hooks into the pilot holes until tight and the hook is upright.

These Windproof Outdoor Hooks are what I recommend. They have a spring clip that holds the light string in the hook so it can’t blow out. Click the image to see them on Amazon.

ADIIL 20 PCS Q Hanger Hooks with Safety Buckle, Windproof Screw Hooks for Hanging Outdoor String Lights, Ceiling Hooks for Plants, Christmas Lights & Patio Lights, 2.2 Inches, Black

How to Hang Lights On Stucco Without Drilling – Stick Pin Hooks

What you need 

Stick pin hooks have four small nails (or stick pins) that are hammered into the substrate. They have up to a 25 pound weight limit so they are a great choice for how to hang things on textured stucco without drilling. They are also relatively inexpensive.

The holes from the nails are very small, so if you choose to remove the hooks at a later point it will be super easy to touch up the stucco like nothing was ever there.

Steps 1 and 2 are the same as installing the hooks above. Layout your hook spacing and the mark locations with a pencil.

Step 3 

Add a small amount of silicone to the back side of the stick pin hook.

Step 4 

Push the stick pin hook against the stucco where you want to install it, spreading out the silicone behind the hook.

Step 5

Use the hammer and tap the nails into the stucco until they are fully driven in. Allow the silicone to cure before hanging lights from the hook.

40 PCS Picture Hangers, Hoedia Concrete/Stucco/Hard Wall Hooks for Hanging Picture, Tapestry, Clocks and More-Heavy Duty&No Damage or Drilling

Stucco can be a tricky thing to hang lights from. These are the best methods that I know of, but if I were to choose I’d go with the windproof hooks. They are the most durable, will hold the most weight, and look more natural out of the permanent or semi-permanent methods.