Can You Paint a Lampshade and How? A Step-by-Step Guide from a Pro Decorator

Bob Thomas


Yes you can paint a lampshade.

Lampshades are often overlooked when it comes to giving your space a makeover. 

However, painting a lampshade can be a simple and cost-effective way to breathe new life into your home décor. 

As a qualified painter and decorator, I'm here to guide you through the process of painting a lampshade with ease. 

Let's dive into the step-by-step guide on how you can transform your lampshade and give it a fresh, new look.

Quick Summary

To paint a lampshade, follow these steps: 1) Choose the right paint, 2) Clean the lampshade, 3) Apply primer (if needed), 4) Paint the lampshade using the right technique, and 5) Allow the paint to dry completely. With patience and the right materials, you can give your lampshade a stylish upgrade.

Choose the Right Paint

When it comes to painting a lampshade, it's essential to choose the right paint.

Acrylic or fabric paints are the best choices for most lampshades, as they adhere well to fabric and are available in a wide range of colors.

Be sure to select a paint that is specifically designed for the material of your lampshade (fabric, paper, or metal) for the best results.

Clean the Lampshade

Before painting, ensure that your lampshade is clean and free from dust, dirt, or stains.

Use a lint roller or a soft brush to remove any surface debris.

For fabric lampshades with stains, use a mild detergent and water mixture to spot clean.

Allow the lampshade to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Apply Primer (If Needed)

For fabric or paper lampshades, you may need to apply a primer to help the paint adhere better and ensure an even, smooth finish.

Choose a primer specifically designed for the material of your lampshade.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application, and allow the primer to dry thoroughly before painting.

Pro Tip: If your lampshade is made of metal, you can skip the primer step, as most metal paints are self-priming.

Paint the Lampshade Using the Right Technique

To paint your lampshade, you'll need a suitable brush or sponge, depending on the paint and lampshade material.

Use a flat or angled brush for fabric and paper lampshades, and a foam brush or sponge for metal lampshades.

Begin by painting the lampshade in sections, working from the top down.

Apply thin, even coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Two to three coats should be enough for most lampshades.

Allow the Paint to Dry Completely

After you've applied the final coat of paint, allow the lampshade to dry completely.

This may take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the paint and environmental conditions.

Additional Tips

Test Paint Compatibility: Before starting the project, test your chosen paint on a small, inconspicuous area of the lampshade. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and doesn't cause any damage to the material.

Consider Stencils or Patterns: To create a unique design, consider using stencils or tape to create patterns on your lampshade. This can help you achieve a more polished and professional look while adding a personal touch.

Mix Custom Colors: Don't be limited by the colors available at the store. You can mix acrylic or fabric paints to create custom colors that perfectly match or complement your home décor.

Thin Your Paint: If you're using acrylic paint, thin it with a small amount of water to achieve a smoother finish and prevent streaks. Be cautious not to add too much water, as it can cause the paint to become too runny and compromise coverage.

Paint the Interior: Consider painting the interior of the lampshade as well, especially if it's translucent. This can create a unique effect when the light is turned on and give your lampshade a more cohesive look.

Use a Hairdryer to Speed Up Drying Time: If you're in a hurry, you can use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to speed up the drying time between paint coats. Be cautious not to hold the hairdryer too close to the lampshade, as it may cause the paint to bubble or crack.

Seal the Paint: Once the paint is completely dry, consider applying a clear sealer (spray or brush-on) to protect the paint and ensure its longevity. Choose a sealer that is compatible with your lampshade material and paint type.

Use a Lazy Susan or Turntable: To make painting the lampshade easier, place it on a Lazy Susan or turntable. This will allow you to rotate the lampshade as you paint, ensuring even coverage and minimizing the need to handle the lampshade while it's wet.

Opt for Multi-Surface Paints: If you're unsure of the material your lampshade is made of, choose a multi-surface paint that can adhere to a variety of surfaces, including fabric, paper, and metal.

Clean Brushes and Equipment: Always clean your brushes and equipment thoroughly after use to ensure they remain in good condition and are ready for future projects. Proper care of your painting tools will help you achieve better results in the long run.

Personal Experiences

I decided to give my living room a fresh look, and painting the lampshades was a great way to add a pop of color without breaking the bank.

I used fabric paint on my old fabric lampshades, and I was thrilled with the results.

The entire process was simple, and the transformation was remarkable.

Frequently  Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I paint a lampshade made of any material?

  A: While most lampshade materials can be painted, some may not adhere well to paint or could be damaged by the process.

The most common materials, such as fabric, paper, and metal, can usually be painted with the appropriate paint type.

Always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility.

Q. Can I use spray paint to paint a lampshade?

  A: Yes, you can use spray paint on a lampshade.

However, ensure you choose a spray paint that is compatible with the lampshade material and follow proper safety guidelines, such as working in a well-ventilated area and wearing a mask.

Q. How many coats of paint should I apply to my lampshade?

  A: The number of coats will depend on the paint type and the desired opacity.

Generally, two to three coats should suffice.

Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one to avoid streaks and uneven coverage.

Q. How long does it take for the paint to dry on a lampshade?

  A: Drying times vary based on the paint type and environmental factors such as humidity and temperature.

Most paints will dry to the touch within a few hours, but it's best to let the paint cure for 24 hours or more to ensure it's completely set.

Q. Can I paint a lampshade with a pattern or design already on it?

  A: Yes, you can paint over an existing pattern or design.

However, be aware that lighter colors may require additional coats to achieve full coverage.

For best results, choose a paint color that is close to or darker than the original design to minimize the number of required coats.

Q. What type of paintbrush should I use to paint a lampshade?

  A: For smaller lampshades or detailed work, a round or flat brush with synthetic bristles is recommended.

For larger lampshades, you may opt for a wider brush or a foam brush to cover larger areas more quickly.

Q. How do I clean a painted lampshade?

  A: For most painted lampshades, gently dusting with a soft cloth or a duster should be sufficient.

If you've applied a clear sealer, you can also gently wipe the lampshade with a damp cloth if needed.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing the lampshade, as this may damage the paint.

Q. Can I paint a lampshade with chalk paint or chalkboard paint?

  A: Yes, you can use chalk paint or chalkboard paint on a lampshade.

These paint types create a matte, textured finish that can add character to your lampshade.

However, be sure to follow the specific application instructions for the chosen paint type and consider sealing the paint afterward to protect it from damage.


With the right materials and technique, painting a lampshade can be an enjoyable and rewarding DIY project.

Not only will you give your lampshade a fresh, updated look, but you'll also add a personal touch to your home décor.

So go ahead, get creative, and give your lampshade the makeover it deserves.

Suggested Products:

Krylon ColorMaster Paint + Primer Spray Paint: This all-in-one paint and primer is designed for multiple surfaces, including paper and fabric lampshades. The easy-to-use spray paint ensures even coverage and a smooth finish for your lampshade painting project.

Liquitex Professional Soft Body Acrylic Paint: A high-quality acrylic paint that offers excellent coverage and flexibility, making it perfect for fabric lampshades. The paint's smooth consistency allows for easy blending and layering, allowing you to create custom colors and designs on your lampshade.

Plaid Delta Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint: This non-toxic, water-based paint is specifically designed for use on a variety of surfaces, including paper and fabric lampshades. Its creamy consistency and rich pigmentation make it an excellent choice for painting lampshades with vibrant, long-lasting colors.

FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint: A premium-quality paint that offers excellent adhesion on various surfaces, including metal and fabric lampshades. Its weather-resistant and UV-protected formula ensures your painted lampshade will maintain its color and finish for an extended period.

Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer: A clear, protective sealer that adds durability and a protective finish to your painted lampshade. This easy-to-use spray sealer can be applied to various surfaces, including fabric, paper, and metal, to safeguard your lampshade painting against wear and tear.

Wooster Shortcut Angle Sash Paintbrush: A high-quality, angled paintbrush that offers excellent control and precision for painting lampshades. Its synthetic bristles provide smooth, even coverage, making it ideal for working with various paint types on different lampshade materials.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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