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How to Dye Lampshades

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Things You'll Need:

  • Disposable rubber gloves
  • Lampshade
  • Large container
  • Dye
  • Hot water
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing spoon or stick
  • Cardboard
  • Small container
  • Disposable foam paintbrush
  • Plastic spray bottle


Wear disposable rubber gloves when working with dye to keep your fingers from staining.

On older lampshades, the glue may soften and loosen in a hot-water dye bath. For these shades, use a dye designed for cold water, or re-glue the shade after dyeing and drying.

When dyeing with the painting or spraying techniques, try pinning stencils or lace to the shade before you dye to create patterns on your lampshade.

Try dyeing an embroidered lamp shade for an interesting look -- the embroidered areas will soak up much more dye, creating an interesting two-tone effect.


  • Do not put boiling water into a spray bottle.

Dyeing lampshades is an inexpensive way to add a custom touch to your home decor. The process is simple, and you can purchase shades inexpensively, allowing you to experiment to your heart's content without fear of ruining an expensive piece of furniture. To avoid ruining anything at all, be sure that you work outside or thoroughly cover your work surface with plastic or old newspaper. Remember to protect walls as well if you're using a spray technique to apply the dye.

Dip Dyeing

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Test-fit the lampshade into the empty container you plan to mix the dye bath in, making sure it will drop in as far as you would like. If not, get a larger container.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Mix the dye according to the package directions. For large dye baths, dye is generally mixed with hot water at a ratio of three-quarters of a cup of liquid dye to 4 gallons of water. The water temperature should be around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Dip the lampshade into the dye bath as deeply as you desire, or immerse the entire shade. Allow the shade to sit in the dye batch until it has reached the desired shade.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Remove the lampshade from the dye and set it on cardboard to dry. Some dye will drip off the shade, so be careful where you place it during the drying process.

Painting on Dye

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Stir a half-teaspoon of dye into 1 cup of hot water in a small container.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Dip a disposable foam paint brush into the dye and paint the dye onto the lampshade where you desire. Apply the dye evenly, continuing to add thin coats of dye until your lampshade reaches the shade you want.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Place the lampshade on a piece of scrap cardboard and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Spray Dyeing

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Mix 1 cup of hot water and a half-teaspoon of dye. Pour the dye solution into a plastic spray bottle sturdy enough to tolerate hot water.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Spray the dye onto the lampshade where you wish, creating one layer of color. You can apply the dye evenly or make some areas darker for a mottled look.

Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Allow the shade to dry, then spray again if you prefer more or darker color. Spraying dye on works best when you apply the dye in layers rather than all at once.

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