Quick and easy exterior light makeover

Since buying our home I wanted to replace the gaudy exterior sconce lights that came with it, but I didn’t want to spend $200 on new lights. Thanks to some inspiration found on Pinterest, I decided to revamp the existing lights, and I’m so happy with how they turned out! This makeover only required soap, water, spray paint and privacy screen film, and cost less than $30.

Light before Light before Light before

One of the exterior lights before its makeover – tarnished and cheap looking

I started the project by unscrewing and disassembling as much of the light fixture as I could. These porch sconces are generally easy to take apart. Simply unscrew the top and bottom points, and the little nubs, to remove the brackets that hold the glass in place. If you have trouble, use pliers to loosen any rusted parts. Once you have removed all the unfixed components, you will need to deal with the part of the sconce that is hard-wired to the wall. You have two options here:

Option 1
Disconnect the power (very important!) before handling any electrical wires. Once you are sure the power is off, remove the light fully (seek help if needed). Before removing the sconce from the wall, make note of which wire connected to what (use labels if you need to) so you can reconnect it later without any trouble.

Option 2
I didn’t feel comfortable with handling the wiring, so instead I sprayed the wired part of the sconce while it was still attached to the wall. Remove the sconce from the wall and leave the wiring as is (your sconce can dangle from the wires). Remove the light bulb. Thoroughly clean the sconce with warm soapy water and a toothbrush. Once it has dried, completely cover the surface area (all around and behind the sconce) with newspaper. Make sure you use enough newspaper to protect your wall from any paint splatters!

Newspaper to protect the wall
Adding newspaper behind and around the sconce to protect the wall

Once the light has been carefully disassembled, clean all the parts and glass panes with warm soapy water. After you’ve carefully taken the porch sconce apart, get some soapy warm water and just clean up the pieces to get off all the dust and residue. If it’s rusty or tarnished, lightly sand or scour the surface before painting.

Once your pieces are clean and dry, take them outside and lay them out on an old dropcloth or cardboard. Time to paint! I used Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer in Gloss Black, which is a primer and paint in one. Rust-Oleum have a lot of different finishes like hammered copper and brushed nickel (great for matching with other hardware). If you use general paint I highly recommend you apply primer first to ensure the end result has a nice finish and is durable. Make sure the paint you select is the right kind for the material you are painting.

Do several light coats and spray your light in a continuous movement, otherwise the paint may drip or show splatters. My lights required about 3 fine coats.

Apply spray paint

Let it dry completely for a few hours before you put it back together. While you’re waiting, you can frost the glass pieces. I bought some adhesive privacy frost window film from my local hardware store. It came on a roll and was very easy to cut and apply.

Adhesive privacy frost

Once all parts are dry and complete, carefully put the sconce back together. If you completely removed the fixture, remember to make sure the power is off before reattaching the sconce to the electrical panel. And there you have it — a quick and easy exterior light makeover!

Before and after


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