Living Space: Give faded outdoor light fixtures a makeover
A lot of homes have a common problem: Their exterior light fixtures are worn and faded. Faded fixtures, lamp posts and pendants look bad and kill a home's curb appeal. Here are some tips on ways to restore outdoor lights and what to look for in new fixtures.
Outdoor fixtures suffer a constant beating from sunlight, cold, heat, ice, snow, wind and rain. The biggest cause of fading is ultraviolet sunlight, said Jeffrey Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends for Kichler lighting company.
"It's hard to put something outdoors and not have an effect on the finish," Dross says, "but choosing a finish that's UV stable or resistant is helpful."
Dross explains that there are three basic types of lighting fixtures: those with painted finishes, those with powder-coated finishes and those made of solid material such as brass or copper.
"Solid material fixtures are the most durable and will last longest," Dross explains. "Of course, their finishes will change but they don't fade; they develop an aesthetically appealing patina, like verdigris in copper and a burnished patina for brass."
But what can you do if you have a perfectly good fixture that's simply lost its color? Giving your lighting fixtures a new lease on life can be as simple as adding a new coat of paint. If fixtures are easy to remove, they can be disassembled and revived with a shot of spray paint. As always, follow good painting rules: sand the surface thoroughly, wipe off excess dust, and spray lightly with the best quality spray paint you can find.
For another measure of protection, add a UV-protective coating, such as Krylon's UV-Resistant clear spray coat.
This is the easiest way to squeeze another two to three years out of your lighting fixtures.
Powder coating can also brighten things up. There are powder coating companies that will take rusty lawn furniture or faded light fixtures, blast away the old finish and apply a new one. Search for these online under "powder coating."
Powder coating involves electrifying the fixture, then spraying on the new finish - a type of coating that's electrostatically applied to the surface. Make sure you inquire about whether the powder coating used is UV stable. Even if it's not, this process will give you a fixture that looks new and will wear longer than paint.
Of course, there's always the option to buy new fixtures. If it's in your budget, look for units made from solid brass, copper or even wrought iron. These typically run about twice the cost of off-the-shelf fixtures, but they last much longer. If these are too costly, look for powder-coated fixtures labeled "UV stable" said Dross.
"Powder-coated finishes are usually, though not always, UV stable, so they'll stand up against the elements and look better longer," he notes.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.