The attraction of living by the sea appeals to many people. Waking up with the sound of the ocean, walking on the beach, lazy lunches on the patio with friends and family overlooking the sea, what’s not to like?
When it comes to lighting, the coastal environment takes an exacting toll on light fittings, and putting up the wrong ones can make your lighting maintenance a bit of a nightmare. Knowing what materials to use in your lighting fixtures is the key to long-life lights at the coast.
The best outdoor lighting for coastal areas are lights made from:
- Galvanized Steel
- Stainless Steel
While you can choose various styles and wattages to suit your requirements, the finish on your lights and the material they are made of will make the most difference to your coastal lighting.
What Type Of Lights Would You Use At The Coast
As with any home, regardless of location, you need indoor and outdoor lighting, and here you have some great options from a wide choice of suppliers. From bulkheads to lantern fittings and floodlights, you can light up your home and outdoor areas exactly as you want.
While some are the more staid fittings, many manufacturers offer the ‘nautical’ style fitting, reminiscent of old ships and 19th-century port lighting. These types of fittings are based on century-old lighting designed to be both effective and durable.
You can find fittings with pretty much any type of finish, and the modern LED floodlights and lamps add energy efficiency to the pot. Whether you choose LED lamps or more traditional filaments, the real question of lighting comes down to one factor- survivability.
Let’s look at the best materials resistant to the harsh conditions of the salty coastal air and provide good durability and great looks for your coastal lighting.
Which Are The Best Materials For Coastal Lighting
When choosing to light, always go for the most resistant material you can afford, and the good news is that there are a few options to choose from. Inland and coastal finishes differ greatly as materials like aluminum which work well inland, would die a quick death by the sea.
Another material to consider which is heavy and naturally develops that characteristic blue/green patina over time is bronze. While not practical for all fittings, where the exterior fittings need that antique heritage appearance, bronze fittings may well be a good option.
As a material that would work for many fittings on a coastal property, bronze would be limited to a few lights that seek to enhance an antique look and feel rather than the full lighting solution.
Starting with the least most suitable for the coast, aluminum tops the list. While it is lightweight and cheap, the effects of the corrosive salt air and wind will whittle your aluminum fitting down quickly.
Over time, the aluminum will oxidize as it does not work well with salt, and the paint will also fade. Of all the materials, aluminum is the least recommended of all. Even powder-coated aluminum will better withstand the conditions rather than a more durable and suitable material.
While more durable than aluminum, stainless requires regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent corrosion at the coast. The chromium oxide layer that gives stainless steel its shiny appearance will provide more protection than aluminum and be considered a suitable material for coastal lighting.
If you aren’t going to be spending a lot of time at your home on the coast, or it’s being rented out, make sure you advise your tenants to clean your light fittings regularly so that dust and salt don’t build up – or don’t put in stainless fittings.
This material is created by adding a layer of zinc oxide to the steel, whether aluminum, iron, or steel and is a good option where rust resistance is needed. When exposed to the atmosphere, the zinc oxide creates a protective compound called zinc carbonate.
Galvanized steel will not be as expensive as stainless or brass. It typically has that uneven grey surface finish that adds an element of individuality but may not appeal to the more nautical sense of style, but it is corrosion-resistant and durable.
While some people may balk at the notion of plastic fittings at the coast, polycarbonate has some very positive characteristics that make it a good option for coastal lighting. Firstly, it’s light and cheap, so replacing fittings won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Secondly, polycarb is highly durable and corrosion-resistant and is also quite tough, able to resist falling or other impacts from debris during rough weather.
Thirdly, polycarbonate is UV resistant, which is a big issue when it comes to putting up coastal lighting. Finally, polycarbonate comes in a range of designs and fixtures, and the manufacturing technology evolved to where these fittings even look like steel!
A polycarbonate range of fittings for both indoor and outdoor is a solid option if you want to light up your home or beach house with stylish, durable, and cost-effective lighting.
Copper comes in at number two on this list. Copper fittings are highly attractive and add a special kind of aura to the home. Its look and color have that nautical feel as many ship fittings were made from copper, which provides an authentic naval antique charm to the house.
While copper is not as durable as brass, it ranks as a good strong option in its own right, and even though it may rust and darken over time, it remains highly durable under coastal conditions.
Another benefit of copper is that it can be pre-treated or left to develop its own protective Verdigris layer. Over time and exposure, the natural processes increase the protective layer on the fitting.
The only downside to copper is the cost. Over the last few years, copper prices have risen, and while they make very attractive fittings, the cost to use them over a whole property may become prohibitive.
Because copper is expensive and in demand, there is a risk of theft of copper fittings similar to copper electrical cables. So if the property is going to be standing for long periods, copper may not be the best option.
The copper color is captivating, and some manufacturers will coat brass fittings in copper to get the best of both worlds with the beautiful appearance of copper and the durability of brass in one fitting.
The very best material to use when choosing coastal lighting is brass. Well known and respected, brass has the best resistance to the coastal elements, which is why much of the fittings on sailing ships, both modern and old, were brass.
Of all the materials, brass will last the longest as it doesn’t rust due to its copper and zinc composition. While it may darken over time, this only adds to the charm of the fixtures.
While it may not be the cheapest to start with, it certainly isn’t the most expensive and will be worth the investment as the lifetime of brass will far outweigh the other materials, and you will save money in the long run.
It’s clear that if you want fittings that look great and add traditional nautical elements to the appearance and style of your property, then brass and copper would be the best options.
It may be better to mix and match the materials to give the home a wide variety of colors and durability. This approach would also be less costly, with a mix of materials and fittings to suit style and budget.
Whatever you choose, there is a vast range of fittings available in every material, and so you can go to town to create the perfect lighting solution for your coastal home.