What Kind of Paint to Use on Lamp Shades

When your fabric lampshade looks dingy or metal lampshade is dated, you can paint it a new color to make a “new” lamp.

Fabric Paint

Cloth can try fabric paint which can stand up to some abuse from dusters and heat from a very hot bulb. You can get this paint at art supply and craft stores. Choose a darker paint color and paint over a solid color fabric shade for best results. Fabric paint bonds should not crack or flake on the lampshade. Use an adhesive cloth tape band to edge a newly painted lampshade, creating a crisp, finished look.


If you have small strings of paper lanterns, larger bamboo and paper pendants you can use watercolors. Use shimmering iridescent watercolor craft paints to transform a plain white paper shade. These paints are stored in small jars in a myriad of bright colors. Wet the cake in the jar. On the shade, brush paint thickly. Then, the paint will dry a paler hue to create a handcrafted look. The color may fade over time. But, you can repaint it to get a new look.

Hobby Paint and Faux Finishes

Hobby paints come in a rainbow of colors as well as metallic finishes, translucent shades and pastels. This inexpensive paint can turn an old shade into the accessory du jour. Use a flat brush to apply them on a smaller shade. Once the first coat dries, test it on light areas.

Verdigris, another hobby paint, can produce a rich faux finish on a metal lamp shade.

As long as you take the multi-part painting process using acrylic paints, or just get a kit, you can create faux verdigris. And faux verdigris kits contain a two-part formula. Paint copper paint over the shade. Next, use an aged turquoise-green patina to paint reactive liquid over that to color the copper.

Spray Paint

To create a nice, opaque, modern finish, you can spray paint an old lamp shade. To customize the shade, you can buy the lampshade colors of your dreams or you even can use whatever is gathering dust on the shelf in the garage.

It is recommended to make two coats to get solid coverage.

Place the lamp on its base after the first coat is dry. Then, turn on the light bulb. Make sure cover them well with the second coat, please look for spots where the light shines through.

If your lamps are elegant with a matte finish, you had better use high gloss in a bright color or shiny black on a show-off, dramatic drum shade.