Are you looking for color changing, low profile lights for your bedroom? There are LED strip lights for that.
What about ambient task lighting to put around your kitchen cupboards? There are LED strip lights for that too.
Whatever your requirements, the chances are that LED strip lights will provide a cost-effective, versatile, easy to use solution. What’s not to love?
Most LED strips feature 3M adhesive backing. Once the surface is prepared and the strips cut to the correct size, the adhesive backing can be peeled off. Press the strip onto the designated surface using gentle pressure.
With LED strips, it couldn’t be easier to create the lighting effect you desire in your home or property. But it’s not always plain sailing.
LED strips often fall short when it comes to their adhesive backing – it’s not strong enough, doesn’t stick well, degrades over time, etc.
So I want to show you how to maximize the chance that your LED strips make a good bond with the surface they’re applied too.
Keep reading for my simple guide on how to stick LED strip lights to a wall, and what to do if you notice them drooping or peeling.
How To Stick LED Strip Lights On Wall
So you’ve just bought a 5-meter roll of LED strip lights, now what?
Let’s jump right in.
If you didn’t buy strip lights just yet, make sure you read my guide to LED strips lighting.
Step #1: Measure
The first thing you need to do is measure the area that you want to adhere the lights to. Use a ruler or tape measure to do this. No guesstimates.
Step #2: Cut to Size
If necessary, cut your LED strip down to the correct size. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors for this.
Only cut at the designated cutting lines. Severing your strip in the wrong place can damage the circuitry and prevent some of the LEDs from working.
Remember, if you cut your LED strips you’ll probably need to solder a new connector cable.
Step #3: Prepare your Surface
The adhesive backing on LED strips performs best on smooth, clean surfaces. If grease or dust gets in the way, the connection between the adhesive and the surface is limited, and they are not able to form a strong bond.
To minimize this happening, dampen a cloth with warm water or rubbing alcohol and rub back and forth vigorously on the surface. Once you’re satisfied, dry the area with a lint-free rag or paper towel.
Step #4: Peel off the Adhesive Backing
Starting at one end of the strip, peel off the plastic sticker to reveal the adhesive backing. To prevent dust or debris in the air from sticking to the adhesive, only peel a little at a time.
Step #5: Position and Press
Position the LED strip in the correct place and use your hand to press it onto the surface. Continue to peel, position, and press until the entire length is stuck down. Take your time with this.
Step #6: Light Them Up!
Plug the connector cable into your power supply and turn your LED strip lights on!
How to Stop LED Strip Lights From Falling Off The Wall
Although 3M tape is considered the gold standard of adhesives, it is not invincible. LED strip lights are known for falling, drooping, and peeling off walls. So what can be done about it?
The secret is to play towards the strip lights’ strengths.
As I mentioned earlier, adhesives don’t bond well with rough, bumpy, or unclean surfaces.
So play to their strengths, only apply LED strips to smooth, flat surfaces that have been thoroughly cleaned.
If your surface is uneven, you might want to consider doubling up on adhesives or opting for a different LED light type.
Similarly, adhesives typically don’t perform well in humid and/or moist environments. Excess heat will alter the consistency of the adhesive, making it less durable.
Therefore, if you live in a hot country, it may be beneficial to install your LEDs near a window or AC vent.
The impact of gravity also means that LED strips fall down more often when placed on their sides or face downwards. If it’s not possible to install your strip lights facing upwards, you could try mounting clips or a mounting channel to add stability to your setup.
How To Restick LED Strip Lights.
If your preventative measures fail and your LED strips become unstuck, don’t worry! Thankfully, there are a few ways to rescue them.
It is up to you to decide whether to pull down the entire strip or just focus on the patch that’s lost its stickiness. Either way, the first thing you need to do is get rid of the old adhesive.
Unfortunately, the adhesive is not reusable – once it has formed a bond with one surface, it will be difficult to form another strong bond with a different surface.
From here, you can select a new adhesive. This could be more W3 tape, extra-strong double-sided tape, Command strips, glue dots, or adhesive clips. The possibilities are endless.
How To Stick LED Strips Without Adhesives?
But what if you’re worried about the adhesive damaging your walls or furniture? Is there an alternative?
One solution is Loctite Fun Tak mounting putty. This is described as a moveable, versatile alternative to nails, glue, or staples.
Use your hands to mold a strip of putty to the desired shape and then push it onto the back of your LEDs. The strip can then be adhered to the designated surface.
Alternatively, you could use cable ties to affix your LED strips to an object.
Use clear ties to avoid disrupting the LED’s light output, the example of how not to do it is in the featured image of this post.
Understandably, this doesn’t apply to all scenarios – cable ties can’t be wrapped around your kitchen cupboards. Still, they can be fixed to your stairway banister.
Can You Staple LED Strip Lights?
As for stapling your LED strips, the answer depends on your staples’ width compared to the width of your lights.
If your staples are wide enough to fit over the LEDs like an archway, there should be no problems.
But if your staples are narrower and have to pierce through the LED strip, there’s a chance you could damage the inside circuitry and stop some of the lights from working.
Instead, you can use specially designed mounting brackets for light strips, just like this one from Amazon.
The only downside is that you need to drill the hole. So brackets will work well, if you plan to have your light strips mounted permanently.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve mentioned many different adhesives and tactics in this article, but some of you probably still have questions. So let’s dive in.
Can You Use Super Glue On LED Strip Lights?
If you want your strip lights to be stuck to a surface forever, you may be tempted to reach for super glue…
A little known fact is that super glue is unsuitable for use on materials such as plastic, polystyrene, and silk.
This is because the glue hardens through a chemical reaction that causes it to rapidly heat and cool. But this reaction causes certain materials to degrade over time.
Essentially, if your LED strips contain plastic, super glue has the potential to cause irreversible damage.
Can You Use Hot Glue?
With this in mind, is hot glue any better? Surprisingly, yes.
Hot glue doesn’t contain the same harsh chemicals as super glue, which means it is much safer and will not damage your LED strips.
The only thing to be wary of is the temperature of the hot glue. If it is too hot, you could melt through your LED strips. But this is unlikely to happen.
It’s easy to see why LED strip lights have revolutionized the way we light our homes. They’re immensely versatile, which means they can cater to any and all of your lighting needs.
While I agree that the W3 adhesive tape that is commonly used on LED strips could use some improvement, it could be a lot worse in honesty.
Which LED strip adhesives have you tried? Which did you have the most success with?
Drop a comment down below.