How to Refinish Light Fixtures


Light fixtures can be expensive, sometimes running into the thousands of dollars. Most light fixtures correspond to a current decorating trend. When a light fixture goes out of style, you might be tempted to buy a replacement. But you can update the old one by refinishing it. You might want to replace the lamp shades as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal lamp fixture
  • Dish soap
  • Towel
  • Plastic sheeting or garbage bags
  • Soft wire brush
  • Sandpaper for metal (medium grit)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tack cloth
  • Rags
  • Acetone
  • Masking tape
  • Metal clothes hanger to use as a hook
  • Spray primer
  • Spray paint (metallic) rated for heat and metal

Refinishing A Light Fixture

  • Turn off the electricity and remove the light fixture. Be sure to separate the wires just in case someone turns the power back on without knowing there are exposed wires. Clean the fixture thoroughly by washing all glass parts and outer surfaces. Avoid getting water near the wiring or bulb area. Dry the fixture thoroughly with a towel.

  • Take the fixture outside and lay it on plastic sheeting. This should be in an area where the project will be undisturbed for a few hours.

  • Use the wire brush to scrub off any loose bits of finish and to remove grime that is deep in cracks. Avoid the electrical areas of the lamp. Wipe the fixture clean.

  • Use the sandpaper to smooth any areas of the finish that are uneven. Rough up the finish on the entire fixture so that the new finish has something to adhere to.

  • Put on the rubber gloves. Wipe the fixture clean with the tack cloth. Then use a rag to wipe the entire fixture down with acetone. This should leave a very clean surface that is ready to paint.

  • Tape off every part of the lighting fixture that should not be painted, using small pieces of plastic sheeting if necessary.

  • Bend the metal clothes hanger into a hook so that the fixture can be suspended. Hang the lighting fixture on a clothesline or tree limb where there is room for spray painting.

  • Spray the fixture with primer, coating the surface evenly. Use short, even strokes and thin coats. It is better to spray a second coat than to spray too much paint the first time. Read the manufacturer's directions on how long each coat should dry before adding another coat.

  • Spray the fixture with the finish coat by rotating the fixture and spraying in short, even strokes. View the fixture from all directions to ensure that you achieve full coverage. Allow adequate drying time between coats. Apply as many coats as necessary to transform the look of the lighting fixture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Several paint manufacturers make metallic paint finishes. Check the can for heat ratings to make sure they are safe for light fixtures.


  • Photo Credit rudisill istockphoto#9325829
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