How to paint a lamp shade

Written by melanie l. marten
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How to paint a lamp shade
Old lampshades can get a style boost when you paint them. (CraigPJ at

You do not have to buy all new lamps when you update your home decor style. Instead, create a new look by painting the lampshades to match your new furniture or accessories. It is easy to paint a lampshade in a new colour or add a design that will complement your house.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Lampshade
  • Large piece of paper
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Primer paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Stencils (optional)

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  1. 1

    Clean the lampshade completely before painting it. Most lampshades can be wiped down with a damp cloth and allowed to dry. Some lampshades are not suitable for painting, such as pleated ones or those made in highly stylised shapes. Cylindrical and conical shapes are best. Be sure to remove all dust and debris from the shade.

  2. 2

    Paint the entire lampshade with a basic primer coat in a solid colour. Primer paint is usually found in either white or black. Choose the colour that is closest to the final hue you intend to paint the lampshade. Be sure the paint you use is rated for use in warm environments and is nontoxic. Plain acrylic craft paint is a good bet for a base coat. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before continuing.

  3. 3

    Cut a piece of paper that is the exact size and shape of the lamp shade in order to draw the pattern out before you begin to paint. This can be done easily by laying the shade down on its side on a large piece of paper and rolling it along while you trace both edges with a pencil. Cut this piece of paper out to make a template for the lampshade.

  4. 4

    Draw the pattern on the piece of paper with a pencil so you can erase and correct any mistakes you might make. Use cut plastic or cardboard stencils to make more complicated patterns. Other lovely designs for lampshades include stripes, flowers and lacy patterns with scalloped edges. The design you choose will depend largely on the decor of your room.

  5. 5

    Tape the paper pattern to the inside of any light-coloured lampshade and turn on the lamp. This will allow you to see the pattern you intend to paint while you are painting it. For darker or more opaque light shades, transfer the pattern to the lampshade with a chalk pencil or light-coloured carbon paper.

  6. 6

    Paint the lampshade, starting with the large, solid blocks of colour and working to the smaller patterns and shapes. Paint one colour at a time, allowing each to dry completely before moving on. Use a modest amount of paint on the paintbrushes to avoid drips or runs. Even coverage is a must on a lampshade where light will shine through and make any imperfection more noticeable.

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