How to Darken a Lampshade

Lamp with lampshade Use paint or wallpaper to darken your fabric lampshades. Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Shaded lamps provide accent lighting to a space for reading, or they serve simply as an alternative to a more severe overhead fixture. However, white or thin lampshades don't always dull the light enough to achieve the desired muted effect. This is where darkening the shade comes into play. Instead of replacing your existing lampshade, use the correct technique to darken the existing shade's color without the added expense of replacing the fabric. This transformation is achieved with wallpaper or spray paint, which adheres effectively to fabric shades without peeling or flaking.

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Prepping the Shade

Create a space in a well-ventilated area to spray paint the lampshade — preferably outdoors. Lay down several sheets of newspaper and slip on a pair of rubber gloves and safety goggles. Remove the shade from the lamp and wipe down the outer surface with a damp rag. This removes any dirt, dust or debris on the shade, which will prevent effective adhesion.

Painting the Lampshade

Set the lampshade on the newspaper sheets. Shake the can of fabric spray paint for at least 30 to 60 seconds before holding it 10 to 12 inches away from the shade. Apply the spray paint on the lampshade using even, back and forth motions. Allow the first coat of spray paint to dry for at least two to three hours before examining the color. If there is uneven coverage, or you're desired color isn't achieved, apply a second light coat of the spray paint. Allow the final coat of paint to set for at least eight hours, or overnight, before reinstalling the shade on the lamp.

Wallpapering the Lampshade

Measure the lampshade and cut a piece of wallpaper according to the measurement. Set the lampshade onto the newspaper pile and cover it with a thin layer of wallpaper adhesive. Slowly apply the wallpaper to the shade, running your hand along the shade and paper as you go, to remove any bubbles. Allow the adhesive to cure for at least eight hours, or overnight, before reinstalling the shade and using the lamp.

Other Tips

Locate fabric spray paint in craft stores or the Halloween section of a department store. Choose a paint color or wallpaper based on your room's decor or the amount of light you want filtered from the lamp. Use the darker wallpaper saved from your home to create a coordinating piece for the space. If spray paint isn't available, use an acrylic paint to darken the lampshade instead.