How to Paint a Lampshade with Chalk Paint

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When you want to spruce up an old lamp but don’t want to ruin it’s original integrity then opting to paint the lamp shade is a great way to give it new life. Due to it’s ease of use and interesting finish, more individuals are turning towards using chalk paint on fabrics. When you want to learn how to paint a lampshade with chalk paint, then follow these steps below.

How to Paint a Lampshade with Chalk Paint

​Preparing Your Project

One of the best things about using chalk paint is how easy it is to prep and start. With chalk paint, you don’t have to begin by using a primer. Simply follow the instructions on the chalk paint can to see if you need to mix it with water.

This type of paint is porous and will adhere to almost any surface with ease. It is a thinner paint, especially when mixed with water, so you will need to do multiple quick coats.

You don’t need to further prepare your surface by stripping or sanding. A simple cleaning or ​dusting of the furniture​​ before is all that you need to do. You would only sand if the piece has rust, to remove already loose paint or any other surface debris that would cause lumps.

As for the brush, you will want to use one that is made from natural fibers. It is good to have a brush that isn’t too soft or too hard. The best brush for chalk paint is one that has good long bristles and is flexible with a little bounce to give your painting a good flow.

Paint brushes on a lamp for chalk painting

Start Painting

When you are prepped and ready, follow these steps to refresh your crafty DIY lampshade.

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  1. ​Unplug your lamp and remove the lampshade.
  2. You could leave your lampshade attached to the lamp if it gives you a sturdier painting area.
  3. ​Begin to apply the first coat of paint.
  4. ​Allow the brush to generously apply the paint as you move over it in even brush strokes.
  5. ​It will take about thirty minutes for each coat to dry.
  6. ​As it dries, the paint will soak into the fabric, so don’t be alarmed as it lightens up and if an original pattern seeps through. This is part of the chalk painting charm.
  7. ​Continue to paint and allow each coat to fully dry until you have the look you are aiming for.

​Most people will do anywhere from three to five coats. If the lampshade you are painting has a stripe pattern or other art on it then you will need to use a darker color to better cover it. Using a lighter color will allow the design to show through which can be a great built in embellishment to your lampshade.

Once you have painted the desired coat onto your lampshade then you can follow decide on the best finish for your project.

If you’re considering ​taking on more painting projects in the future, you can check out our best paint sprayer reviews.

​Choose Your Finish

There are one of two ways that you can finish your chalk painted lampshade. Each of these methods gives a different finish so that you can achieve the look you are aiming for.

​Modern Finish

A modern finish on your lampshade will allow the paint to dry and show off it’s original matte finish.

Once your lampshade has completely dried, grab a soft sanding sponge like this one from ​3M.

3M Extra Fine/Fine Sanding Sponge, 3-3/4-in x...
  • Extra Fine/Fine Grit
  • All purpose sanding sponge
  • Rinse and Reuse
  • Use wet or dry

The important thing to remember is to be gentle. You aren’t sanding off bad spots, instead you are smoothing the paint and evening out any bumps or rough spots.

Once you have lightly sanded the lampshade, wipe it with a cloth to pick up any leftover dust and then sit back to enjoy your smooth matte finish.

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Wax Finish

Some chalk paint kits will come with a soft wax finisher. The wax finish will give your lampshade a mild sheen or gloss while it also seals the fabric.

You will want to make sure that the lampshade is completely dry before you begin the ​wax finish method​. Aim to apply the wax similar to how you would apply lotion to your skin.

A little bit will go a long way. The dried chalk paint is porous and when the wax is applied, it will marry into the paint perfectly. Take a small amount of wax and apply it to the lampshade.

Once you have spread it all over the painted area, follow up immediately by buffing it out with a clean, dry cloth. This ​concept is similar to fixing up old, broken drywall in your home, where you cover it up to smooth it all down. It is suggested to apply two coats of wax to the project to give it the best possible wax seal.

For the second coat, you don’t have to wait. As soon as you have finished buffing the first coat, go ahead and apply the second coat of wax. Buff it out after you have finished applying.

Painting on a lampshade with chalk paint


When you know how to paint a lampshade with chalk paint then you can begin to add pops of color all around your home. You can choose to repaint your current lampshades or go out and buy some simple ones to test out and use for the changing seasons.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.