Are you thinking of spray painting a lamp or do you want to paint a lamp you have or found at a thrift store, but don’t know where to start? Learn how to spray paint a lamp and achieve professional results and even make it look like a high-end designer lamp in this post. It is a relatively easy and an inexpensive DIY that will save you money.
When I saw this lamp on the nightstand in the Serena & Lily catalog I loved it, but not the $498 price tag. I like the clean look of the two color dip-dye. The contrasting tones are so simple and fresh. I wanted it for my blue and white guest room.
So I have been on a search to find one at a thrift store ever since seeing it. After a few months, I found this ceramic lamp in a similar shape at the thrift store for $2.00. Time to get out my paints and make a DIY Serena and Lily dupe.
To make it look like a copycat of the Serena and Lily light, I used spray paint, leftover blue paint and craft store paint.
My Serena and Lily lookalike painted lamp base. Total cost: $32
The best part of doing DIY projects… you get to be a designer and get exactly the look you want for less. :-)
I placed my Serena & Lily DIY dupe on one of the nightstands in the blue guest room and couldn’t be happier with the results.
Where To Find Inexpensive Lamps to Paint
I am often asked how and where I find good stuff at thrift stores. I have 2 tips to share with you that you may be overlooking.
- I always have items in mind that I want and keep a list. For instance, this lamp. I have been looking for this shape and size ever since I saw the lamp in the decorator catalog. I knew eventually I would find one.
- I shop often as you just never know when something will show up. I go once a week. I am in and out of the stores in 5-10 minutes just looking for items on my list.
- If you find a lamp you love, but it is not the height you need, consider adding a small riser under the lamp base.
How to Spray Paint Lamps and Add Designer Touches
If you are new to spray painting and would like to learn more about how to spray paint lamps and items with shiny or smooth surfaces, first read my spray painting tips guide. How to troubleshoot common problems when spray painting:
- 1 can white spray paint & primer in one formula – Rustoleum 2X Ultra-Touch Primer +Paint in Gloss White
- Brush-on paint in a color you like. I used Fusion Mineral Paint: Liberty Blue
- Gold metallic paint
- 100 grit sandpaper
- Painters tape
- Wide-bristle paint brush
- 1/2″ wide flat artist paint brush
- Damp cloth and dish detergent
- Flattened cardboard box or drop cloth
Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes
How to Paint a Ceramic Lamp Base
- Prep Lamp for Paint
Remove harp and light bulb.
Sand the parts of the lamp you want to paint with a piece of 100 grit sandpaper.
This sanding step is especially important on slick shiny surfaces like ceramic, glass, and metal. A quick 5-minute going over with sandpaper is all that is needed to provide some “tooth” that the paint can adhere.
Clean well with hot sudsy water to make sure all dirt and grease is removed. Rinse well and let dry.
- Mask Off Areas With Painters Tape
Use painters’ tape to mask off any areas you do not want painted, such as the cord and socket.
Wind and tie cord with twist tie or rubber band, place inside lamp base if the base is hollow or cover cord with a plastic bag to keep overspray from getting on it.
- Set Up Painting Area
Set up a place to paint and protect the surrounding area while spray painting using a large piece of cardboard or drop cloth outside in your yard or driveway. You can also cover a garage floor and spray with the door open.
Spray Painting Lamp Tip: If you have a Lazy Susan, cover it with paper to protect it and place on the center of the cardboard.
Using a Lazy Susan will allow you to easy turn the lamp so you get a nice even coat as you spray the lamp.
- Apply Spray Paint
When spray painting a lamp, always use a primer or a primer and paint in one first to help the paint adhere better and prevent chipping.
How many coats of paint should I use on my lamp? A primer coat and two light coats. If using a “Primer and Paint in One” formula, two light coats should provide coverage.
Shake the paint can well for at least 1 – 2 minutes. Begin spraying the lamp in a light thin coat. Keep the can about 8″ away from the surface and use long strokes – this will provide a very smooth finish.
Wait about 5 minutes and add add a second light coat. If it needs a third coat, add it within an hour. If after an hour, you will need to wait 48 hours to re-coat. If you re-coat after an hour – the paint may wrinkle. Let dry.
Dry time will depend on the thickness of the paint coats and the weather conditions.
Your lamp is finished or continue to add designer touches.
- Mark Base
When paint is completely dry, use a ruler and pencil to measure and mark where the two colors on lamp will meet. Repeat a few times around the base.
- Optional: Add Designer Touches to the Lamp
Using the pencil marks as a guide, place the painters tape along them. Use your index finger to seal the edges of the tape.
- Apply 2nd Color
If painting a lamp with multiple colors, be sure to allow each color to dry completely before adding the next.
Since I was making a knock-off of the Serena and Lily lamp, I used brush-on paint to achieve subtle brush strokes on the blue section of the base.
Place on the covered Lazy Susan, load a wide bristle brush with paint and hold the tips of the brush vertically against the lamp, then slowly spin the Lazy Susan.
If you see a drip, hold the brush vertically and spin the Lazy Susan so the drip and brush stoke blends in.
Add more paint until the section is covered in one light coat. Let dry, then repeat the painting process.
- Add Metallic Gold Stripe
Using a 1/2″ wide flat paint brush, paint a metallic gold stripe along the bottom of the lamp base.
- Optional: Apply Sealer
How to protect your spray painted lamp from damage. Depending on the look you are after and the sheen of paint you used, you can apply sealer by using Polycrylic water-based sealer. It comes in brush on or in a spray can.
Use 1 – 2 light coats and let dry.
- Put Lamp Parts Back On
Once your lamp base is painted and dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape, unroll cord, replace harp and light bulb and attach lampshade.
Enjoy your beautiful lamp with its new look.
If You Need to Buy a Lamp Shade for Your Painted Lamp
If you need to buy a new lamp shade, finding fabric lamp shades in the size and shape may take some shopping around. I find that Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes have the best and most affordable selection of lamp shades that you can buy separately.
If you need to buy a harp for the shade, the best place to find all sizes and metal finishes on a budget is online on Amazon.
What is the Best Paint for Lamps
You can successfully use just about any paint when you want to up-cycle a lamp, piece of furniture or decorative accessories that are handed down or a thrift store find.
The key to getting a smooth long-lasting finish on spray painted lamps is by prepping the surface first no matter if the lamp is made of wood, ceramic, metal, glass, brass: Sand, clean, use a primer and apply paint in light coats.
Paints To Consider Using When Painting Lamps
How to select the best spray paint for your lamp project. I have tried many brands and formulas of spray paint from epoxy, appliance and enamel spray paints, they all work fine. Brands I have used and liked:
- Krylon’s Fusion line
- Amy Howard Lacquer spray comes in classic and more unique colors.
- Valspar spray paint sold at Lowes has the best color selection.
- Any Rustoleum formula
My favorite spray paint for lamps that never fails is:
- Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer. It comes in a variety of colors and sheens.
Keep An Eye Out For Lamps to Paint
I like to copycat or DIY home decor dupes from high end interior design stores that look similar to expensive items for my home, but that will cost way less.
If you’re on a budget and love decorating and need a new lamp for your home, keep an eye out at thrift stores and yard sales for a lamp with a similar shape as any lamp can be painted.
Now I am on the look out to find a thrift store lamp with a shape like this $498.00 Kingston Lamp from Serena and Lily for a space in my house. :-) It will be my next spray paint project.