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How to Rescue & Restore Lamps

How to Rescue & Restore Lamps

, by Amy Howard, 5 min reading time

Do you have a few lamps that you want to donate because they’re just… ugly? Don’t toss them out just yet! This week on Finish Friday, Amy Howard is walking you through how to rescue and restore a thrift store lamp or one that’s been hiding in your attic for years. Whether your piece is glass, metal, wood, or plastic, there’s a finish that will work for everyone.

How to Rescue & Restore Lamps

Do you have a few lamps that you want to donate because they’re just… ugly? Don’t toss them out just yet! This week on Finish Friday, Amy Howard is walking you through how to rescue and restore a thrift store lamp or one that’s been hiding in your attic for years. Whether your piece is glass, metal, wood, or plastic, there’s a finish that will work for everyone.


Tune into the video to watch Amy’s recommendations!

 

 

Different Finishes for Different Lamps

The first step in any project is to clean your surface. No matter what you’re doing to a new or old lamp, you’re going to need to clean it. However, you’ll also need to take into account what it’s made of first.


Clean your lamp base using Clean Slate and a lint-free rag. This will strip down all the cleaning products, dust, and fingerprints that have collected on the base over the years. Be sure to avoid any electrical components. If you have a plastic or glass lampshade, you can also clean that with the Clean Slate. If it’s fabric or paper, it’s best to just dust the lamp rather than use Clean Slate.


Before you start painting, always block off the electrical components of the lamp. If you’re using lacquer to refinish your lamp base and/or shade, also make sure to build a spray booth with cardboard or paint tarps in your garage or outside (weather permitting).


If this is your first time using the High-Performance Furniture Lacquer, make sure to check out the Learn How to Lacquer tutorial. Also watch this week’s video because Gene, Amy’s husband, makes an appearance to give you a few tips.


If you don’t want a high sheen that the lacquer offers, you can always use One Step Paint, both on the base of the lamp and the shade. Other finishes, like cracked patina or gilding, are also an option! Don’t be afraid to have fun and explore different options for your lamp project. No matter what you decide to do, though, make sure that you have a plan for the lampshade in case it’s a different material than the base (many shades are paper or fabric).

Restoring Lampshades

One thing many people assume is “unsalvageable” are lampshades. They get dingy, stained from light, and can even collect a lot of dust. But with the right materials, you can actually give your lampshades new life instead of buying new ones. Before you get started, determine whether your shade is some type of fabric (canvas, polyester, mesh, etc.) or paper. This will determine how best to prep the material so you can refinish it.


If your lampshade is fabric, you’ll need water, One Step Paint, and a chip brush.


When you start painting fabric on a lampshade, you don’t necessarily need Clean Slate. Instead you can dust it to remove any major particles, then mist the cloth so it can absorb some water. This will allow the One Step Paint to apply smoothly. In the video, Amy also shows you how to mix and apply One Step Paint to fabric shades. You’ll need to apply the paint in thick, consistent coats so that it soaks into the fabric. You can use stencils or add stripes with different One Step Paint to give your fabric shade a beautiful, professional look.


And, if you want to reflect a certain color, you can paint a different color inside your shades. You can even gild it! If you want to use gilding, Amy gives a few pointers to help you get started, so check out this week’s Finish Friday video! Then follow that up with our tutorial on gilding.


If your lampshade is paper, you’ll need One Step Paint and a chip brush.


The application is nearly the same, but you won’t need to spray down the shade first as you do with fabric. As with the fabric shades, you can create designs, use different colored paints or even gilding on the inside of the shade, and generally just have fun with it!

Tune Into Finish Friday for More!


With a little help from some High-Performance Furniture Lacquer or One Step Paint, you’ll be able to breathe new life into your lamp. There are a ton of questions answered in this tutorial, so make sure to follow along on the Facebook video to get a ton of insight from Amy herself. And if you want to learn more about how you can refinish furniture and accents like lamps, tune into the next Finish Friday. Amy is live on Facebook every Friday at 12 noon Central, so follow and “Like” us on Facebook.

Products Mentioned:


Bauhaus Buff One Step Paint

Clean Slate

Pink High-Performance Lacquer

1.5" Nylon Tapered Brush


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