How to Quickly Paint a Lampshade in Your Home

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At times you may find yourself staring at a favorite lamp that is currently clashing with your new decor. The first question that comes to mind might can you paint a lampshade and, if so, how difficult it would be.

Surprisingly, how to paint a lampshade is not difficult, and is a perfect DIY project for you to tackle. We walk you through the exact steps you need to paint your lampshade.

​How to Paint a Lampshade

Prepare to Paint

When you are ready to tackle painting a lampshade then you will need to first begin by preparing your tools and the lampshade.

If you are shopping for paint in your local hardware store, then take a moment to speak with the paint professionals to see if your paint will be compatible with the type of lampshade you are painting.

The things you will need for painting a lampshade are:

  • Paint
  • ​Brush
  • ​Old newspaper

Figuring out how to paint a lampshade is a really easy and great first DIY project for your kids to lend a hand in. You don’t need much to do it and you may already have extra brushes around the house to use.

You can also opt for a brush free painting session if you choose to use spray paint. If you do spray paint, you will need to take an extra step and get some painter’s tape to cover the metal top fixture, as well as covering the interior fabric so that they spray paint doesn’t accidentally get on it.

mixing paint on a pallete for painting a lampshade

Using a plastic grocery or trash bag is a quick and easy way to cover the top and protect the inside since it is large. Just apply painters tape around the top to cover and seal the inside.

​Painting the Lampshade

Choosing a lighter color will allow the light from your lamp to still shine through, adding more light into the room. Using a darker color will trap the light in and make it a more focused light that shines only through the top and bottom openings.

Before you begin, prepare the lampshade and figure out where you need to paint ​it so you can ready the area. If you are spray painting then it is best to paint outside since the droplets can splatter on other surfaces.

For hand painting with a brush then you can do it inside. If it is easier, you can paint the lampshade on it’s base, just make sure that the lamp is unplugged.

  1. Lay down old newspaper to protect the surface you are painting on. If you are outdoors then opt to use a tarp to cover the grass or pavement area
  2. Apply painter’s tape to protect hardware on the top
  3. Begin to apply the paint. Give the lampshade a thin coat to begin with
  4. ​Let the lampshade sit for thirty minutes to an hour to let the first coat completely dry
  5. ​Follow up with a second coat
  6. Once you let the second coat fully dry, place the lampshade on your lamp and turn the light on
  7. ​The light will shine through and show you any too thin or missed spots
  8. Take note and apply a third coat
  9. Repeat the lamp shine through step to see if you covered the spots​
  10. ​You can repeat these steps as many times as you need to achieve the color you want
  11. Once your lampshade is fully dry, remove any painter’s tape and replace it on the lamp

If you are nervous about how this fun DIY craft will turn out, then purchase cheap lampshades and take the day painting them various ways instead of risking your expensive lampshades.

​Adding Details to the Lampshade

If you want to do more than just a single colored coat then you can easily add more flare to your project without having to be a master artist. Try out these tricks to add some extra pizazz to your lampshades.

​Hand Painted Graphic

Do you have a favorite graphic like the Fleur de Lis or want to paint a quirky word like “Hello” on your lampshade to make a statement?

Instead of freehand painting, and risking messing up the design, tape a picture of the design inside the lampshade. This will only work if you are using a light colored shade that allows the image to shine through once the light is on.

Use a small paint brush and acrylic paint to trace the design onto the lampshade. Allow your design to dry and remove the inside paper.

painted lampshade in white room how to paint a lampshade

Clean Designs

Making stripes can seem simple, but getting crisp lines can be difficult even with the steadiest hand. You can use painter’s tape around the lampshade to give your wide stripes clean lines.

You can also do this to ​create more difficult designs​ such as diagonal lines, a large star or other abstract ideas. Make sure that you let the paint fully dry before you apply more painters tape over already painted areas. 


Now that you are full of ideas for how to paint a lampshade go and brighten up your room with a new pop of color or a fun design. Once painted, learn how to clean your lampshade.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.