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Installing Exterior Lights on Metal Buildings

how to mount outside lights on metal building

If you own a steel building, you might wonder how to mount exterior lights on a metal building to enhance your property’s visibility and security. You’re in luck! This guide from Metal Buildings Unlimited provides comprehensive steps and options for safely and effectively installing exterior lights on metal buildings.

Why installing exterior lights on metal buildings is Different.

Before getting into the steel building lighting tips, it’s important to understand that mounting exterior lights on metal siding or a metal structure differs slightly from mounting them on wooden or brick walls. Traditional nails don’t work well on metal surfaces, as they can expand and damage the system over time. Hence, alternate metal building exterior lighting methods like nuts, bolts, washers, or specialized clips are advisable.

outdoor lights for metal building: Materials Needed

You’ll need the following materials and tools to successfully install outdoor lights for a metal building or a metal building light mount.

      • Magnetic clips or specialized lights designed for metal surfaces

      • Weatherproof outdoor boxes

      • Galvanized nuts, bolts, and washers

      • Silicone caulk

      • Exterior grade junction box

      • Faux vinyl wood or similar material

      • Cable

      • PVC Union and Conduit

      • Clear caulk
      • Silicone or butyl caulk: These can be used as alternatives to silicone caulk for waterproofing.


    mounting lights to metal building: 5 tips

    1. Magnetic Clips: Non-Intrusive Method

    A quick and easy way to mount outside lights on a metal building is using magnetic clips or lights. These offer a secure attachment without causing any damage to the metal surface. They are especially useful to avoid drilling or making permanent changes while installing exterior lights for metal buildings.

    2. Nuts, Bolts, and Washers: The Secure Bond

    Nails won’t work well on metal, but nuts, bolts, and washers—all galvanized—form a much more secure bond. Before you start, measure and mark the spots on the wall where you want to mount the lights. The length and diameter of the bolts will depend on the light fixtures you choose.

    3. Sealing and Caulking: Protect Your Installation

    To ensure your light fixtures are secure and waterproof, apply a silicone caulk around the light. However, remember not to seal the underside; this allows any accumulated moisture to escape.

    4. Exterior Grade Boxes: Sturdy and Safe

    An exterior-grade box is another solid option for mounting outside lights on a metal building. You can find cast aluminum boxes designed for exterior use, which often come with foam gaskets to improve their waterproof capabilities. Drill through the installation only enough to run the cable to avoid unnecessary damage.

    5. metal building exterior lighting: Additional Tips

    Pole Barns

    For pole barn outside lights on metal buildings, you can cut a round hole in the metal near a purlin (horizontal structural member). Then mount an octagon box to the purlin, run your wires, and mount the pole barn metal building light mount as normal.

    PVC Unions

    You can use a Plastic Round Junction Box Wet Location and a trimmed 4″ PVC Union for a clean look. This combination provides a tight fit and a professional appearance for your light fixtures. Detailed steps can include cutting and trimming the PVC union and the junction box and applying clear caulk for a waterproof finish.


    Expert Metal Building Lighting Ideas & Advice for Special Cases

    Mounting Lights on Ribbed Metal

    If you’re dealing with a large rib in the center of the steel building, consider using a thick piece of cedar cut to the depth of the rib for mounting your outside lights.

    Non-Round Fixtures

    For fixtures that are not round, you can use fiberglass or automotive body filler for a secure and aesthetic fit to modern outdoor lighting on metal buildings.

    Get more help with outdoor lights for metal building.

    Mounting outside lights on metal buildings doesn’t have to be a frustrating task. With metal building lighting options ranging from magnetic clips to nuts and bolts to specialized junction boxes, you can find a method that meets your needs. When working with electrical installations, it’s best to consult a qualified specialist for the most accurate and personalized advice. 

    And there you have it: a step-by-step guide on how to mount outside lights on a metal building. With the right tools and tips, your metal building lights will shine quickly.

    If you would like advice from our metal building experts, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

    We are Metal Building experts serving the USA, including:

    Adam Cotter
    Adam Cotter

    Adam Cotter is a certified structural engineer and owner of Metal Buildings Unlimited, as well as Cotter Enterprises, INC. Located in Enterprise, AL, his family has owned a construction and development firm in Alabama for over 30 years. When he isn’t designing metal building floor plans, Adam enjoys golfing, fishing, and spending time with family.

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