I know that painting brass lamps isn’t a new idea but I have been looking all over craigslist for some nicely shaped lamps to paint. So when I found these 7 brass-plated lamps for $30, which is a little over $4 a lamp, I was thrilled.
As I mentioned these aren’t solid brass and are only brass plated. I would never paint high-quality solid brass lamps because they are worth so much more in their original state. Should you decide to paint your solid brass then you can use this same tutorial because it works the same. Find you how to tell if something is real brass before you start.
A step-by-step guide to painting brass lamps
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My friends just shook their heads because they couldn’t understand why I would want 7 disheveled lamps from the thrift store. What they didn’t know is that I like changing out lamps around the house like other people change shoes. And I was itching to try out some bold colors.
Now if they would have looked like this great below pair of Curtis Jere mid-century brass lamps, I would have definitely kept them the way they are. At $3700 I can only say “keep dreaming”! Aren’t the below vintage brass lamps stunning?
At least I had 3 matching pairs of lamps in my pile.
Supplies needed for this project
- Krud Kutter or TSP cleaner
- (Make-A-Lamp kits if your lamps need to be repaired)
- tack cloth
- fine-grit sandpaper
- metal primer
- spray paint colors to match your decor
- painter’s tape
- drop cloth
I had to buy some parts at Home Depot for $25 which included 2 Make-A-Lamp kits with harps and 2 packs of switch knob sockets. If you look at the picture, you can see that there were 4 lamps with the old 2-bulb style and a pull switch and I didn’t want that. I only wanted one light bulb on each lamp.
Fixing broken lamp parts
I was actually amazed how easy it is to change out the wiring and bulb sockets. And for some of the lamps I was able to reuse the old bulb sockets. (check out my tutorial about how to add a harp to a lamp for more details)
All I had to do is unscrew all the sockets and expose the wires. For the 2 bulb lamps I had to unscrew everything and disconnect the wires that led to the single wire threaded through the lamp base. Because of the previous connection it has a split end. You have to feel for the one split end/wire that is ribbed. The ribbed wire should be connected to the silver screw, and the other wire should be connected to the brass screw. If you use new lamp sockets, make sure that the instructions aren’t different than what I just wrote.
Thoroughly Cleaning the brass-plated lamps
I gave the lamps really good cleaning with TSP cleaner.
And of course, you have to tape all the wire, light sockets, and any other area that you don’t want to spray paint.
Then it was priming time!
Sanding and priming
Use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly scuff up the brass coating and then wipe the lamps with the tack cloth. Tack clothes are a must for most painting jobs and if you have read any of my other posts then you know I use them for every project. You can remove any dust specks and hair so they are ready for priming.
I dedicated an area in the garage that I protected with a dropcloth and placed the lamps on it one by one to prime and paint.
I primed the gray lamps with gray tinted spray primer and the rest of the lamps with white primer as you can see in the below photo. Make sure each is a thin coat of primer and reapply as needed to have an even finish of primer.
They look finished but the below photo is only gray metal spray primer.
Spray-painting the lamps
I decided on a couple of colors for the lamps: bright yellow for the one matching pair, tangerine for the other matching pair, dark grey, and the good old glossy white for the last remaining pair. I like taking them out for my “white Christmas” which is always my favorite.
Again place the lamps on your protected area and apply several light coats of spray paint to avoid drips. Make sure to let the paint dry completely before applying the next coat to avoid crackling of the pain. It can happen so quickly.
I also recommend that you read the instructions provided by the manufacturer because every paint brand is different and might recommend different drying times and temperature requirements.
Photos of the finished painted brass lamps
The funnest part is playing around with where to put them now that they are done.
My favorite is by far the tangerine pair of lamps. I was lucky to have a pair of off-white shades with silver lining for $6 each from Ross. (When I find great lampshades I just have to get them and hoard them in my attic).
The below lamp color is Hacienda Tile by Valspar:
The drum shade on the yellow lamps are from target at $15 each. And I made the fun squirrel and bird pillow out of an Ikea fabric.
Above and below you can see two yellow and one gray painted brass lamp.
I think you get my point! It’s fun to have different colored lamps and play around with them.
The white ones are in my attic! Maybe I’ll just have to spray them another fun color! Pink or Coral?
Or you could paint the lamp a beautiful dark blue like the one below. I added some tassel embellishments to the black lamp shade for added interest and texture.
Thanks for stopping by and Guten Tag!