Illumination is an essential part of any interior or exterior design. Once you’ve painted walls, installed flooring, and added furniture, you still need to make sure your family can find their way around after the sun goes down. Naturally, your home came with some lighting fixtures installed, often overhead dome lights in every room. You’ve probably also added some lamps to create a more inviting atmosphere. However, you can do a lot more with lighting from both a functional and decorative standpoint. When you decide to add strings of LED rope light to interior and exterior spaces, you have nearly unlimited options for creating the perfect ambience for any room or occasion. Whether you use them to artfully line staircases and bookshelves, you outline doorways or windows, you backlight artwork or mirrors, or you drape them over canopies or pergolas, you can create truly unique and stylish spaces around your home. Of course, you first need to figure out how much product it will take to complete your project. Rope lights come in a variety of lengths, and you can always cut and patch them to make them shorter or longer as needed. However, it helps to know how much rope light your project requires from the outset. Here are a few tips to help you plan accordingly.
Plan Your Project
The first thing you need to do before you start purchasing rope or strip lights is figure out the scope of your project. What exactly do you want to accomplish? Most lighting projects have a dual purpose. From a practical perspective, you want to add illumination to indoor or outdoor spaces. Even if you have other lighting options, it never hurts to devise alternatives to brighten rooms or add lighting to specific areas. On the other hand, lighting can also serve a decorative purpose. LED rope lights can accommodate on both scores thanks to a variety of colors and options for brightness. You can use them not only to illuminate outdoor pathways, for example, but also to provide a decorative border between hardscape and landscaping features. Indoors, you can use rope lights to cast a colorful glow on shelving or curio cabinets. They could provide ambient illumination above kitchen shelving, along baseboards, or underneath counters or tables, just for example. Planning out your project in detail before you purchase rope lights can help you to determine the amount of product needed to realize your vision.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your lighting project, it’s time to start taking measurements. In some cases, this will be as easy as running your measuring tape along the length of a wall or shelf, or measuring the perimeter of a mirror, for example. Other projects may be more complex. If, for example, you want to spell out a word or create a unique design with your rope lights, you may first have to build a frame or draw out a full-size mockup to determine the precise length of lighting you’ll need. Or if you plan to drape strings of lighting over a canopy or across a patio cover, you might have to multiply or take several measurements, depending on the effect you hope to create.
Taking precise measurements is essential to purchasing the proper amount of product for whatever project you have in mind. However, it’s always best to overestimate and you should shoot for about 10% more product than you think you need. This way, if your measurements were slightly off or you make a mistake when cutting or installing lighting, you’ll have the extra length you need to complete your project.
Cutting and Connecting Rope Lights
You may not be able to find the precise length of LED rope light needed for your project. The good news is that you can not only trim rope lights down, but you can also connect them to create shorter or longer strings, as needed. This will require some additional products (caps, connectors, etc.) and you’ll have to exercise proper safety precautions any time you tamper with electronics. However, there are many tutorials to help you complete the process and get the exact length of rope light to meet the specifications for your particular lighting project.