Black is often the colour of choice for outdoor lighting fixtures, perhaps because it is perceived as a safe neutral choice, however, to me it can sometimes be a gloomy or depressive colour as typified by the Rolling Stones 1966 classic “Paint it Black “ Martin Bennett reports.
There are no Black trees, plants or grass, so why not experiment with colour more naturally associated with the garden, such as green?
Black paint is often used in low cost fixtures, and tends to fade to grey quickly unless more expensive UV protective paint has been used. A green powder coated finish can also fade, but normally just to a lighter, pleasing tone.
To avoid fading or photo-degradation to use the technical term, choose lights made from aluminium treated with an anodised finish. This is not paint but an electro-chemical process using dyes to create different colours. Black, Silver, and Titanium colour finishes are available and often look contemporary and smart.
Other more expensive alternatives are:
316 Marine Grade Stainless Steel. This will keep its shiny look indefinitely provided it is cleaned on a regular basis with clean water otherwise it’s possible for some brown stains known as “tea staining” to appear.
Brass : Probably the best material of all for garden lighting. Pure Brass will quickly turn to a brown colour, aged or antique finish brass will keep its attractive rustic appearance for many years.
Copper: The original shiny finish of natural, real copper will quickly change to a darker finish and eventually to a green Verdigris effect. If the shiny finish is preferred, this can be achieved by coating with acrylic clear lacquer before installation.
Wood: Natural wood is of course a natural choice for gardens and outdoor landscapes, but can be difficult to maintain and keep looking good. Teak needs to be sealed on a regular basis.
If the fixture is made from treated and heat sealed Radiata Pine it is likely that cracks will appear especially in prolonged periods of dry weather. However, these cracks are rarely anything to worry about and will not affect the strength of the wooden post or sleeper. Take a look in your local children’s playground- you will see numerous cracks in the wooden climbing frames but they are still absolutely safe.
Some say that You ‘Can’t Always Get What You Want’ with garden lighting but in my view you certainly can. You may be pleasantly surprised at how smart the different materials and finishes look throughout daylight hours where the light fittings take on an ornamental value of their own, giving complete ‘Satisfaction’ to you and the customer.
Martin Bennett is the founder of Lumena Lights
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