The 4 Types of Porches & How to Light Them!

The best seat in the house might actually be outside, if you’re lucky enough to have a porch. In sunlight and starlight, you can enjoy the sights and scenes of the outdoors–without stepping away from home. Porches are an inviting way to enjoy time in the fresh air with friends, family, and pets…or alone, with a glass of wine and a favorite book. There are essentially four types of porches, each with its own style and function. One thing they all have in common is a need for good lighting. 

Let’s take a look at each porch type and how to use outdoor lighting to make this extension of your living space inviting, functional and safe.  

Main Street 13 Inch Tall 2 Light Outdoor Hanging Lantern by Troy Lighting
Main Street Outdoor Hanging Lantern by Troy Lighting

Fabulous Lights for Your Front Porch 

The front porch is the most common type of porch. You’ll want to complement your front porch with outdoor lighting fixtures that help define the look of your home, while providing safe entryway lighting for you and your guests. 

Just as there are many different types of home exteriors, the styles of front porches abound. When choosing front porch lights, stay within the parameters of your home exterior’s overall style. For example, if your home is modern, you might want to choose outdoor lights with clean, geometric lines, like Access Lighting’s Reveal LED Outdoor Wall Light.

Does the front porch have a gable roof with a decorative accent truss? That could lend itself to choosing distinctive outdoor porch lighting. 

When considering which materials to choose, your front door is the perfect inspiration. Match a big brass door knocker with outdoor fixtures that have a similar finish. Another option is to instead match the fixture finish to your home’s trim. If your home is a light color with dark trim, a fixture with a dark finish will harmonize with your porch. 

While style matters, your ultimate goal for front porch lighting is to cast as much light as needed. Safety is the first priority. Banish any dark corners to keep the entranceway to your home well-lit. For lighting that gives a warm glow without harsh glare, go for a style that features frosted, seeded or pressed or patterned glass. Not only do decorative glass shades tone down the light source, they won’t need cleaning as often.  

While it might go without saying to choose lighting fixtures made for outdoor use, there are some additional features to consider. If your porch is sheltered from rain or snow or excessive moisture caused by salt air or fog, a damp-rated fixture is a good choice. On the other hand, if your front porch is more of a portico style, there is a risk of your light fixtures coming in direct contact with the elements. In these cases, a wet-rated fixture is best.   

Tyro 5 Inch Tall 1 Light Outdoor Wall Light by Access Lighting
Tyro Light Outdoor Wall Light by Access Lighting

It’s a Wrap! Lights for your Wraparound Porch

The wraparound porch is exactly what it sounds like: a porch that offers not only a view from the house, but of the sides and/or the back as well. This type of porch can boost your home’s curb appeal while creating a unique connection to the natural surroundings. A wraparound porch also provides an opportunity to extend the living spaces of your home. You’ll have unique zones for dining al fresco, lounging with a favorite book or enjoying the view on a rocking chair or porch swing. 

When it comes to lighting a porch with more space and corners, the first rule of thumb is not to overdo it. While floodlights do serve a purpose for security, excessively bright outside porch lights are energy wasters that stop us from stargazing. Focus on providing adequate lighting for different zones. Wall lights placed at intervals around the home are a good way to accomplish this. They add a decorative touch to the exterior of your home while emitting a warm, ambient glow. 

A great way to control the level of light on your porch is to select fixtures that are compatible with a dimmer switch. SONNEMAN’s Shear Outdoor Wall Light is a sleek, minimalist design that bathes modern exterior walls in warm ambient down lighting and is compatible with a TRIAC/ELV dimmer. 

Wish List Fusion 12 Inch 1 Light LED Outdoor Flush Mount by Justice Design Group
Outdoor Flush Mount by Justice Design Group

Spotlight On the Screened Porch

The screened porch offers a chance to enjoy bright mornings, warm breezy afternoons and serene evenings without being bothered by intense sunlight or bugs.

Unlike other types of porches, your screened porch is an extension of your home’s interior. You’ll want patio lights that transition harmoniously with the interior. For outdoor lighting protected from the elements, choose fixtures that are damp-rated. If your porch tends to be consistently on the warm side, outdoor fans with lights provide overhead illumination along with warm weather relief. Note: Place ceiling fans eight or nine feet from your porch floor for optimal comfort and aesthetics.

An overall layered approach that offers a mix of accent, ambient, and task lighting is best. Consider using a combination of ceiling and hanging pendant lights. Use outdoor table lamps where needed – next to a chair for reading or on a table for dining or playing games. 

Your ultimate goal, of course, is to do away with dark, unsafe areas. That means even in those smaller spaces. Consider a single overhead light combined with candles to bring a cozy ambiance while ensuring safety. 

Combining ceiling lights with a decorative hanging lantern-like the Dana Point Hanging Lantern by Troy Lighting creates ambiance over an outdoor seating area.

Troy RLM Standard 16 Inch Large Pendant by Troy Lighting
Standard 16″ Large Pendant by Troy Lighting

Brightening Your Back Porch

More informal than other types of porches, back porches are the perfect place to watch the sunset with a glass of wine while you crank up the grill for a cookout with your favorite neighbors. Many back porches extend from the kitchen, making them a prime location for outdoor dining with family and friends. 

Your goal is to have a well-lit dining area without an unpleasant glare. A layered approach that combines sconces with ceiling lights will keep conversation areas warmly lit and send shadows packing. 

To create an inviting dining area, hang a pendant light above the table. A classic barn-style fixture like Troy RLM’s Standard 16” Large Pendant brings sophistication and functionality to traditional and contemporary outdoor settings. 

Add a warm glow with wall lights flanking a doorway or adorned to a long exterior porch wall. Separate switches for your wall and ceiling lights let you set the tone.

Porches are an asset to any home’s design and thoughtfully selected lighting is important so that you can enjoy yours thoroughly. While there are no hard-fast rules to choosing outside porch lighting, a comprehensive approach that includes flush mounts, hanging lights and wall lights will make your porch a standout for style, safety, and function. Once you determine the right lighting for any of your porches, don’t forget our tips & tricks for installing different fixtures to brighten your home.


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