How To Paint A Fabric Lampshade: The Secret

How To Paint A Fabric Lampshade

Last Updated on July 9, 2023 by Wahid

Are you looking for a way to change the color of a lampshade without buying a brand-new one? Is it possible to paint fabric lampshades or not? Yes, fabric lampshades can be painted, but newcomers to DIY lampshades may find the question surprising. 

I know a secret about how to paint a fabric lampshade perfectly. Its answer also gives a beginner the confidence to get started painting fabric lampshades. Luckily, you can update your decor by painting lampshades. Basically, old lampshades can be transformed using fabric paint, water color, spray paint, & other finishing techniques. 

Well, let’s see the in-depth lamp shade coloring process below.

Can You Paint A Fabric Lamp Shade?

Can You Paint A Fabric Lamp Shade

Of course, it is possible to paint fabric lampshades. However, use fabric paint that has been designed specifically for fabrics, preferably fabric paint.

  • Ensure the lampshade is dry, clean, and dust-free before painting.
  • It may also be worth pre-treating the fabric with a “fabric medium,” which makes the paint stick better and gives it a softer appearance.
  • Alternatively, spray paint designed specifically for painting fabrics can also be used.
  • However, spray paint and fabric paint can modify the fabric’s texture & stiffness.
  • Hence, it’s essential to test the lampshade in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Additionally, fabric paint should be applied with a brush rather than a roller, in order to prevent fabric damage.
  • Make sure you strictly follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and instructions when applying.

It’s Time For Preparation

Cleaning LampShade Preparation

Would you like to paint that dusty old lampshade directly? Don’t rush. You need to make sure that you prepare well for a standard quality finish. Preparation is key to the appearance of your finished product.

  1. Whenever you DIY paint, don’t forget your workspace. You should cover your workspace with old contractor paper or newspapers to prevent spills.
  2. You can use protective equipment even if most paints aren’t toxic. Nonetheless, paint fumes can cause allergic reactions to the eyes, throat, and skin. Therefore, be careful when handling it.
  3. Luckily, the toxicity of watercolor paint is among the lowest among paint types. You do not need special protection like gloves, respirators, or goggles for watercolor painting. With soap and water, watercolor paint can be removed from hands and skin easily.
  4. Now, focus on the lamp shade. Dust, lint, and debris need to be cleaned before applying the finish.
  5. Finally, remove the lampshade from the lamp by unscrewing the screws. For cleaning, use a lint roller or vacuum cleaner. 
  6. Stay careful to avoid damaging the fabric.

How To Paint A Fabric Lampshade: Easy Step-By-Step Guide

Steps On How To Paint A Fabric Lampshade

It is possible to paint fabric lampshades in many different ways, and I am going to show you how to color a fabric lampshade with “water color.”

Supplies You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Paint brush
  • Vacuum or brush lint
  • Color palette


  • Fabric lampshade
  • Watercolor paint
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Watercolor paper (optional)

Step-1: Gather Supplies

It doesn’t matter what watercolors you use, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this project. Choose 3 to 6 colors that match your existing décor.

Step-2: Choose A Lamp Shade To Paint

I chose a shade with a felted design that was all white. I was not required to create my own pattern because this one was built-in. Then, if you cannot find a color that has a felt design, design any pattern yourself, and decide whether to ombre it.

Step-3: Vacuum Any Dust Or Debris

The lampshade must be clean before painting to prevent particles or debris from getting stuck on the surface. Ensure that the fabric is vacuumed before moving on. The lampshade is fragile, so if a vacuum does not work, use a lint roller instead.

Step-4: Paint The Lightest Color First

First, pick a color. A simple ombre effect is achieved by starting with a light shade and building up layers. Slowly add water into a palette of watercolor to achieve the desired color & consistency. Apply the color to the felted pattern using a small paintbrush. Don’t worry about going outside the lines with the paint.

Pro Tips

  • Watercolor might take some practice if you’ve never worked with it before. 
  • Adding water to paint changes its appearance, so practice on watercolor paper.
  •  Visualize the lightshade’s final look, try out the hues on watercolor paper, and make sure they work for you.

Step-5: Wipe The Watercolor On Paper Towels

Typically, watercolor will bleed through fabric, especially when painting with large amounts of water. To achieve a more controlled result, use a moist paper towel to wipe the watercolor onto the fabric. After it dries, blend the white into the surrounding area.

Step-6: Add 2nd color

The 2nd color will be added once the lightest color has been applied around the whole shade. Continually blend the extra color with the surrounding fabric using the paper towel technique. Be prepared for watercolors to be unpredictable in their dripping, bleeding, and blending on cloth.

Step-7: Continue To Add New Colors

Painting lampshades is a highly customizable process as you can select the many colors if you desire to add. Your finished result will have more dimension as you add more layers. To ensure your colors blend evenly, prepare the fabric by brushing it with clean water prior to painting.

Step-8: Layer Dark Shades Last

After painting the lampshade completely, paint it in darker colors. Add the darker colors over the existing colors and use water to blend them together. Whenever a dark area is present, apply clean water to the paintbrush and gently wipe it away.

Step-9: Layer Until You’re Satisfied

Similar to adult coloring books as a relaxing, hobby, and meditative activity, this painting style can also be considered Zen. After applying several layers, lay down the lampshade, step back, and make sure it looks good. Instead of painting within the lines, make a blotted, multicolored design.

Pro Tips

  • It may take some time for the paint to fully dry before you can see the result. 
  • When dry, you may see spots that require some attention. 
  • With watercolor, you have a lot of flexibility; you can add more paint whenever you want.

Step-10: Allow It To Rest

Once again, wait until it’s completely dry & safe to handle for about 1 to 2 hours. Check if any more coating is needed. If so, continue the process as before. However, painting in 2 coats is generally acceptable. Ensure that the painting is perfect by checking it yourself or asking your family. Even so, the artwork needs to be remodeled.

Lastly, as soon as you are pleased with the final coat, attach it to the lamp. Make sure that the wires are connected properly and that the screws are positioned correctly. And finally, your living room is ready to showcase your creativity through this fabric lamp.

Fabric Lampshade Painting Using A “Spray Paint” 

Fabric Lampshade Painting Using A Spray Paint

You might be wondering how to spray paint a fabric lamp shade, here’s an easy DIY project you can do at home. If you spray, make sure the area is well ventilated.

  • First, check that the fabric is dust-free & lint-free. If you want, simply apply a lint roller or duct tape to clear all fuzziness. Spray cans should be shaken vigorously for 2 minutes, according to the can’s instructions. Follow this step for best results.
  • Spray an even coating on the shades, ensuring that they are coated on both sides. A few coats will be necessary; the first coat won’t look even if you spray it thoroughly. 
  • Correcting the error is definitely possible, but it’ll require more time & effort. As a result of rushing through one shade, I paid a price in time. 
  • Now, spray from one side to the other, quickly moving your hand. Then turn the shade & spray it again from side to side. Repeat. Is that clear?
  • Spray paint designed specifically for fabrics or plastics should be used. A spray paint labeled “universal” or “multi-surface” is the best choice.
  • Make sure you follow all instructions on application & safety precautions provided by the manufacturer. Before applying it to the entire lampshade, it’s recommended to spray a test area first. 
  • Additionally, the lampshade should be clean, well-dried, and dust-free before painting. It is recommended to let each coat dry completely before applying the next.

Fabric Lampshade Painting Using A “Paintbrush”

Fabric Lampshade Painting Using A Paintbrush

If you don’t feel comfortable using spray paints, stick with the old-fashioned method; use a paintbrush. There is not much difference between the 2 procedures.

  • Take a small bowl and fill it with acrylic, chalk, or fabric paints. For best results, stir the color for a few minutes. 
  • Now brush on the paint in heavy, long strokes without applying too much force. 
  • Generally, all other techniques remain unchanged.

If you still have time, explore other painting supplies that are available for painting fabric lampshades.

Lamp Shade Paint: What Type Should I Use?

Fabric lampshades can look dingy, paper lampshades need color, or metal lampshades are outdated. Using paint can be an inexpensive way to update a lampshade. Make your “new” lamp even more affordable by using paint left over from a previous project.


Watercolors Lamp Shade Paint

Adding shimmering watercolor craft paints to plain white paper shades will transform them. Colorful jars of paint come in a variety of bright shades. Spray the shade thickly with paint after wetting the cake in the jar. As the paint dries, it will become paler in color and slightly unevenly covered, giving it a handcrafted appearance. As well as paper lanterns, this method works well with bamboo & paper pendants. Eventually, the color will fade, so you will need to re-paint or decorate it.

Spray Paint

Spray Paint Of Lamp Shade

The color goes on right from the can quickly and easily. A spray painted lamp shade will achieve a nice, solid, modern look. You can reuse whatever’s accumulating dust on the garage shelf, or by customizing the lamp shade colors to suit your personality. For solid coverage, apply 2 coats. When the 1st finish is dry, attach the lamp to its base, then switch on the light. If you apply a 2nd coat, make sure you cover any spots that allow light to shine through. Matte lamps look elegant, but high gloss lamps look stunning with bright colors, shiny black, or dramatic drum shades.

Fabric Paint

Fabric Paint Of Lamp Shade

The best fabric paint has been designed for fabric and will withstand some stress from dusters & extremely hot bulbs. Small jars of paint are available in art supply and craft stores, which can be applied thinly or thickly according to your preference. Paint a darker color over solid-colored fabric for best results. In some cases, painted-over patterns may show over fresh paint requiring several coats, which would be time-consuming and less efficient for DIY projects. On the lampshade, fabric paint should not flake or crack. When adorned with a ribbon or cloth band, a newly painted lampshade looks crisp and finished.

Hobby Paint & Faux Finishes

Hobby Paint & Faux Finishes For Lamp Shade

Get your hobby paint out, then transform an old lamp shade into an attractive accessory. Besides being inexpensive, hobby paints come in a wide variety of colors, as well as translucent shades, metallic finishes, and pastels. For smaller lamp shades, use a flat paintbrush, letting the first coat dry before applying the second. Verdigris is also a hobby paint that can be used on metal lamp shades to create a rich faux finish. Faux verdigris can be achieved through acrylic paints or kits. Typically, faux verdigris kits involve painting the shade copper paint, then covering it with a chemical-reactive liquid. Using this technique, the copper will take on a turquoise-green patina over time.

Can You Spray Paint A Silk Lampshade?

Definitely. Silk lampshades can be spray painted, although it may be more difficult than using other kinds of fabric. The silk fabric is delicate & porous, making it difficult to apply paint accurately and to prevent damage to it.

You should choose spray paint specially formulated for silk, linen, and similar delicate fabrics, like fabric paint or dye. To ensure a successful outcome, thoroughly wash the lampshade, then pre-treat the fabric with fabric medium.

Before spraying the entire lampshade, spray an inconspicuous area first. Also, make sure the area is well ventilated and use a face mask & gloves to safe yourself from fumes.

Be sure to follow all instructions from the manufacturer regarding application & safety precautions. Silk lampshades may not always have a perfect finish after being painted, resulting in changes to their stiffness and texture.

White Spray Paint Can Be Used On Lampshades?

Yes, lamp shades can be sprayed white. Still, you need to consider a few things first.

  • First of all, the lampshade should be made of plastic or metal rather than cloth. Obviously, if it’s cloth, the spray paint will ruin it.
  • Secondly, make sure that the working area is well ventilated. In this way, the paint won’t build up in the air, causing breathing difficulties. When spraying, you should use a mask.
  • Thirdly, it’s also important to clean the lampshade prior to painting it. This will prevent the paint from chipping off. Actually, white spray paint is the right choice for metal or plastic lampshades.

Are Lamp Shades Spray Paintable?

Yes. A spray painted lamp looks modern and fresh in no time. A lamp shade must be made from fabric & not paper, spray paint can be used. Make sure you purchase fabric-safe spray paint. To finish, lay plastic or newspaper down over the surface you’re working on, and keep the area well ventilated.

Can You Spray Paint A Linen Lamp Shade?

Spray paint is inexpensive and easily accessible, but it can freshen and update things like paint can’t. A linen lamp shade can be spray painted without causing damage. In contrast to other materials, the process of painting linen lamp shades requires a bit more effort.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Lampshade?

A light-colored lampshade will reflect more ambient light because it will increase its reflectivity. This will improve the illumination of the room. In addition, light colors look more elegant & blend well with almost any decor. Because oil-based paint is waterproof, you can use it on a vintage lampshade without a coating. A matte finish can also be achieved using oil-based paint on lampshades.  Be careful, using too much color will result in a messy appearance.

Can I Spray Paint A Metal Lampshade?

Depending on the type of metal, I would recommend priming it first. By priming the metal, you will protect it against paint damage. However, if you are painting a rustic metal lampshade, which is usually painted, you will probably be fine. To ensure its extra protection from paint, a primer might be a better option.

Words Of Wisdom

I have written an in-depth guide on how to paint a fabric lampshade at home. Using this guide, newcomers will be able to complete their lampshade project at home for themselves or for a customer. Your skill level and preferences will determine which method and paint you choose. 

With this information combined with your creativity, you will achieve the best results. Let’s get those paints & tools ready to transform the lifeless lampshades into beautiful home decor. You are welcome to ask any questions or confusion, please comment below.