Wall Washing vs. Wall Grazing: What Is the Difference?

Wall Washing vs. Wall Grazing: What Is the Difference?

Wall Washing vs. Wall Grazing: What Is the Difference?

When it comes to outdoor lighting solutions, the terms "wall washing" and "wall grazing" might sound similar, but they involve distinctly different techniques and effects. Both techniques are popular among landscape lighting experts and homeowners alike, offering unique ways to enhance the exterior of a property. This detailed guide will help you understand the differences between wall washing and wall grazing, and how to choose the right one for your lighting needs.

What is Wall Washing?

Wall washing is a technique used by landscape lighting specialists to create a smooth, even light across a surface, typically used for flat walls. This method illuminates a large area with an even distribution of light, which can make a small space feel larger and more open. By mounting lights at a certain distance and angle, usually at least 12 inches away from the wall, the light spreads out to cover a wide area, reducing shadows and evening out any imperfections in the wall’s surface.

The primary goal of wall washing is to produce a uniform light that enhances visibility and highlights the broad surface of the wall without focusing on texture. This technique is ideal for showcasing smooth walls, highlighting artwork, or brightening up outdoor living spaces. It can also be effectively used to light up foliage close to walls, creating interesting backdrops.

Check out Outdoor Lighting to explore options that are perfect for wall washing techniques.

What is Wall Grazing?

Contrary to wall washing, wall grazing is designed to accentuate the texture of a surface by creating shadows and highlights. This technique uses lighting fixtures placed very close to the surface—typically less than 12 inches—to cast shadows that emphasize textures and architectural features like stone walls, brick veneers, or decorative masonry.

Wall grazing is particularly effective for bringing out the depth and intricacies of textured walls. It enhances the contours and shadows, adding a dramatic and dynamic effect to the exterior façade. This method is suitable for surfaces where you want to highlight material quality or artistic details, such as sculpted features or intricate patterns.

For the best wall grazing fixtures, visit Outdoor Wall Lights.

Wall Washing vs. Wall Grazing: Which One to Choose?

Choosing between wall washing and wall grazing largely depends on the architectural features of your building and the desired visual effect:

  • Wall Washing: Choose this if you want to illuminate a large area without emphasizing texture. It’s ideal for smooth walls or where you want to highlight displayed items rather than the wall itself. This is a great choice for public spaces, galleries, or areas where general illumination is needed without dramatic effects.

  • Wall Grazing: Opt for this technique to showcase the texture and intricacies of your building’s façade. It’s perfect for textured walls where the interplay of light and shadow can create a visually captivating effect. Ideal for historical buildings, luxury homes, or any place where architectural details are a focal point.

Installation and Considerations

When installing either technique, it is crucial to consider the type of fixtures used and their placement relative to the wall:

  • Installation for Wall Washing: Fixtures should be placed far enough from the wall to allow the light to wash over the surface evenly. The angle and distance from the wall are crucial to avoid creating hotspots or uneven lighting.

  • Installation for Wall Grazing: Fixtures need to be placed close to the wall, and the angle of the light should be adjusted to highlight textures and create the desired shadow effects. The proximity to the wall accentuates details through contrast between light and shadow.


Both wall washing and wall grazing offer unique benefits and can dramatically change the perception of your outdoor spaces. Whether you are a homeowner looking to enhance your property’s appeal or a landscape lighting expert designing for a client, understanding these techniques can help you make better lighting decisions.

For more resources on becoming a landscape lighting professional or finding one near you, visit Become a Dealer or Find a Dealer.

Utilizing the correct lighting technique can transform an ordinary exterior into a standout feature of your home or commercial property, leveraging light to shape how we see and feel about a space.