Painting lamp shades is a brilliant way to take a tired old lamp and make it look as good as new. But what paint should you use? There are specific fabric paints out there, but could spray paint be a good alternative?
Read on to learn more about how to paint your fabric lamp shades and what the best kinds of paints to use are.
Can You Spray Paint Fabric Lamp Shades?
Yes, spray paint is a great versatile option that can be used on all sorts of materials, including fabric lamp shades. It will easily cover existing colors and designs and spraying a lamp shade is an easy job that anybody can do.
Is it Safe to Spray Paint a Lampshade?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to spray paint a lampshade as long as you do it properly. Spray paints can sometimes contain strong solvents, so you need to make sure that you paint the lamp shade in a well-ventilated area and let it dry fully before putting it back in your house. Wear protective gloves too, in case you get paint on your hands.
Why Paint a Lampshade?
There are plenty of reasons to paint a lampshade. The most obvious reason is to change the color. If you redecorate and your lampshade doesn’t quite fit the color scheme anymore, you can just paint it instead of replacing it. You can also use stencils to paint different designs on your lampshade too. The color of the fabric can fade or get stained over time too, and painting it is a quick way to make it more vibrant again.
Acrylic spray paints are the best choice for lamp shades, and you need to make sure that you pick a non-toxic option too. Dupli-Color Acrylic Spray Paint is a great high-quality spray that will work perfectly on your lamp shade. It comes in a big range of colors and it’s a durable paint that will last a long time on your lamp shade.
You can also get specific fabric paints that come in a spray can. Fabric paints will soak into the lamp shade and give you a less intense color. Normal spray paint, on the other hand, will give you a solid block color.
Before painting a lampshade, you should always do a small test patch to see what the finish is like.
How to Spray Paint a Lampshade? (Step by Step)
1. Remove The Lampshade and Clean It
Before you paint it, you should remove the lampshade from the rest of the lamp. If you paint it while it is still attached, you will have to spend more time covering the lamp to protect it. It’s also much harder to paint the inside of the lampshade. Most lamps have a single screw in the top to secure the shade.
Once you have removed the lampshade, you need to clean it. Wipe off any dust and debris and look at the state of the lamp. If it is dirty and discolored, you can soak it in a bowl of cold water with some washing detergent in. Give it a good scrub and then rinse it out to clean off any dirt. Then, let it dry fully before you prepare it for painting.
2. Protect Areas With Masking Tape
You need to protect the area where the bulb goes and the metal framing around the shade. Get some masking tape to cover these areas thoroughly. This will ensure that you get a nice clean finish without any wayward paint splashes. Invest in good painters tape and put a few layers on to make sure that no paint bleeds through.
3. Apply a Coat of Paint
Now you can start spraying your lampshade. Keep the can around 30cm away from the lampshade and give it a good coating. You need to make sure that the coverage is solid all the way around so it doesn’t look patchy. However, don’t concentrate too heavily on one area because you will get drips. It’s best to work in one direction (up and down is most effective) all the way around the lampshade.
The drying times will vary when you are using the paint on fabric. Although the can might say it dries in 20 minutes, that applies to surfaces like metal or plastic, not fabric. Your lampshade will take longer, usually 1-2 hours at least.
4. Check The Coverage and Recoat
When the lampshade is dry, reattach it and put the light on. This will show up any thin spots and patchy areas, if there are any. If you do notice any, take the lampshade off and recoat it. Otherwise, you’re done and you can enjoy your new lampshade!
What Can Happen if You Choose the Wrong Paint?
Picking the wrong type of paint for your lampshade can lead to a lot of problems. If you pick an oil-based paint with a lot of VOCs, your lampshade will give off a lot of toxic fumes, especially when the heat from the bulb hits the paint. Other types of paint may not adhere to the fabric very well either, giving you a very patchy finish that flakes off. Non-acrylic paints can also make the lampshade feel overly stiff.
Does the Lampshade Fabric Material Matter?
Lampshades come in all kinds of materials and you need to pick the right paint for the job. Acrylic is usually the best choice for most fabric lampshades. So, whether you are painting silk, linen, or cotton shades, a general acrylic spray paint will be just fine. Always pick a matte finish for fabrics like this as a glossy finish won’t look right.
Bamboo lampshades can be spray painted with acrylic paint too, and you can use gloss or matte finishes. If you have a glass lampshade, acrylic paints work, but only ones that are specifically designed for use on glass. Check the guidance on the can to see whether it works on glass or not.
If you have a paper lampshade, you don’t need to use spray paints, you can also use watercolors. You can either do a single block color or paint a design onto the lampshade.
Can You Remove Paint from a Lampshade?
If you get a few splashes of paint on a lampshade, you can use rubbing alcohol or paint thinner to remove it. But if you have painted the entire thing with spray paint, it’s a lot harder to remove.
Can You Paint Over a Previously Painted Lampshade?
Yes, painting over a previously painted lampshade is the best option because taking it off is difficult. Spray paint bonds well to most surfaces, so you will still get a good finish if you cover existing paint. If you are painting a light color over a darker color, you may need a few more coats to stop it from showing through.
What are Some Lampshade Makeover Ideas?
There are so many great things you can do with your old lampshades and a can of paint. You don’t have to paint it a single block color, you can make some great geometric designs quite easily with a bit of masking tape. By taping off some lines and painting different sections, you can get some cool designs.
You can also use stencils if you want something more complex. Take a piece of thin card and cut a strip that fits around the lampshade. Then, print whatever image you want and stick it over, so you can use a craft knife to cut it out.
If you’re using a paper lampshade, you can even do hand paintings if you are a confident artist. The possibilities are endless really, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your lampshade.
Can You Paint a Lampshade with Chalk Paint?
Chalk paint is so great because it goes easily onto pretty much any surface, including a fabric lampshade. It’s very easy to chalk paint your lampshade, you should only need a single coat as long as the original color isn’t that dark. If you are worried about the stiffness from other paints, chalk paint is a good choice.
Can You Paint a Lampshade with Emulsion?
Emulsion isn’t great for painting lampshades because it’s very heavy. It can create a thick layer that is prone to cracking. So, even though most acrylic paints are good for lampshades, there are much better alternatives to emulsion.
Can You Dye a Lampshade a Different Color?
Yes, fabric dyes are an excellent choice for lampshades. You can mix the liquid dye and then dip the lampshade in. You can even dip it into different colors on each side for a great effect. However, bear in mind that the existing color of the lampshade will blend with the dye and it’s hard to know what the results will be. So, this method is best used on white or cream lampshades.
Can You Spray Paint a Metal Lamp Shade?
Yes, most spray paints are designed to be used on metal. Sand the metal down first, and use a primer to create a good surface for the paint (unless you are using a primer and paint combination spray paint). Try to pick a low VOC paint too, so you don’t get toxic fumes.
Can You Spray Paint a Glass Lamp Shade?
Yes, acrylic paints are great for glass lamp shades. Some paints are not designed for use on glass, so make sure that you check the information on the can first.
If you have an old, tired lampshade, don’t throw it out just yet. Give it a coat of spray paint instead and you can bring it back to life. Make sure you choose an acrylic paint, preferably one with low VOCs. Always paint in a well-ventilated area too, and let your lampshade dry properly before using it again.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.