How to Paint Over Porcelain Lamps

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You must sand the porcelain to promote adhesion.
You must sand the porcelain to promote adhesion. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you would like to paint over a porcelain lamp, consider some important points before you begin the application process. Porcelain lamps are nonporous, a characteristic that leaves them poorly suited for paint adhesion. You must condition the lamp, using friction-based abrasion techniques, or the new finish will ultimately flake and shed. In addition, you should apply a specific type of paint, engineered to promote an attractive sheen and strong durability, or you will ultimately end up with a disappointing finish that won't last.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreaser
  • Coarse sponge
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Masking paper
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth
  • Acrylic spray primer
  • Acrylic spray enamel

Remove the lamp shade and light bulb. Unplug the porcelain lamp and take it to a ventilated area.

Clean the lamp with a water-based degreasing cleanser, using a sponge. Wipe the lamp with wet rags and dry it with towels.

Abrade the porcelain lamp to promote adhesion. Sand the lamp with 180-grit sandpaper. Stop when the porcelain feels slightly rough to your fingers.

Cover portions of the lamp you do not want painted with masking paper and painter's tape. Place the lamp on a fabric drop cloth.

Coat the abraded porcelain lamp with acrylic spray primer. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the lamp and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours for the primed lamp to dry.

Coat the primed porcelain lamp with acrylic spray enamel. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the lamp and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours for the finished lamp to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply a second coat of enamel if the primer shows through.
  • Do not prime over an unabraded porcelain lamp, or the finish will chip.
  • Never paint an unprimed porcelain lamp, or the paint will peel.
  • Do not use latex paint on a porcelain lamp, or the finish will ultimately fail.

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