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Practice What you Pin: Painting Lamp shades

Last Updated on November 11, 2016 by Andrew Romans | 0 comments

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DIY Lampshade 

"Create art, excitement, fun... not more waste for the landfill."

What do you do when a delivery driver inadvertently crunches a box full of lamp shades? Although rare, it does happen, and when it does we cannot and will not sell the product to our customers. If we can’t sell them, then do we have to throw them away? Absolutely not, it’s time to start painting lamp shades.

As part of an ongoing effort to practice what we pin, the creative team at LampsUSA has taken in these lamp shades and given them a new life as an illuminating expression of art. It may not be the glitz and glamour that brings in money at an art auction, but it’s fun and it does its little part to save space in a nearby landfill. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – right?


Painting lamp shades is fun and easy, but there are some tips to consider.

Not all tape is made equal

For most of these lamps we used masking tape to create designs that are one of a kind. Ironically, some of the pricier blue painter’s tape with edge control technology was the worst performer (assumed it's best to use on interior walls). Our recommendation for painting lamp shades of this type? Scotch by 3M brand masking tape, because it had no bleed issues.

Here's a secondary painting lamp shades tip for using inferior tape. If you paint your shade one color, then want to add secondary accents, you have a great option to lock your tape to the canvas you’re using. Simply paint the shade in one color, let it dry completely, then put down your tape design. Next, repeat the same color the shade already is BEFORE painting the second color. Repeating the first color will fill in any bleed areas and bond the tape edge to the lampshade surface.

Lastly, when painting with spray paint, do your best to use thin coats. Think, runny coats of paint are a major culprit for bleed issues. 

What paint should I buy for painting lamp shades?

We used multi-purpose spray paint already on hand. Krylon MAXX finishes work great on all surfaces, as do the Rustoleum multi-surface paint offerings. It’s a good bet that if the paint is suited for “plastic, wood, metal, and more” you’re going to do alright painting lamp shades.

Where should I look to find my inspiration?

Painting lamp shades that suit what you want can be really easy, with the only hurdle being the design itself. For pattern choice, we recommend you do what we did and play around. Get some tape and a shade to see what will work. If there is a specific lamp you want to adorn with your new shade, then do your best to accent décor and other elements of the room.

Don’t forget to be safe

Painting lamp shades can be fun, but it also can be very dangerous. Be sure, if you’re using spray paint, that you are doing so in a well-ventilated area. Also, be sure to wear respirator protection. Follow all guidelines from the paint company’s manufacturer, and don’t touch the lampshades until fully dry. Also, be sure to allow any off gassing of spray paint fumes to occur before bringing the lampshade into your home.

Other safety aspects include choosing a hard back lamp shade and a bulb that doesn't generate a ton of heat. We use energy efficient low-heat bulbs, and didn't test this with any hot-burning filaments. If you do so, you will be accessing your own risk. 

Results from Painting Lamp Shades

Here are the byproducts of our time painting lamp shades. Each reclaimed lampshade was taped off with a one-of-one uniqueness and painted with a multi-surface polymer spray paint.

Painting Lamp Shades - Results

For more fun ideas like this, please come pin with us!

If you get that spark and start painting lamp shades, we want to see it done! Mention us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and we’ll spread your work! Happy painting!


If you'd like to use the products demonstrated in Practice What You Pin, we have them listed here:


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