How to Buy a Lamp Shade – And Keep it Clean

A new lamp shade is an easy and affordable way to breathe life into your favorite lamp. Luckily, new or replacement lamp shades come in various sizes, styles, colors, and shapes. Whether you want to replicate your former shade, or go for a different look, your shopping experience can be fun and easy when you follow the right steps.

Created by the lighting experts at Lamps Plus, this helpful guide on how to buy a lamp shade reveals:

  • How to Pick the Right Size Lamp Shade 
  • How to Clean a Lamp Shade 

Buying the Right Size Lamp Shade

Replacement Lamp Shades: How to Measure a Lamp Shade

If you like the size of the current shade you’re replacing, just measure it and look for a similar size replacement.

To measure the shade, simply use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the following dimensions (in inches):

A diagram of lamp shade dimensions.

A. Top width

B. Bottom width

C. Slant (if applicable)

D. Vertical height

 

With these measurements on hand, you can shop for the lamp shade that fits the size. Lamp shade dimensions are always provided both online and in stores.

New Lamp Shades: Getting the Shade Size Just Right

If you’re shopping for a new lamp shade, follow these general guidelines to get you started:

Height: The shade should be 1/3 the overall height of the lamp, give or take.

Width: The width of your shade should be 2x the width of the lamp base.

Keep in mind that this is just a starting point. As the shape of bases varies, the recommended shade width does, too.

Types of Lamp Shade Fitters

The fitter is the wire part of a shade that connects it to the lamp body. Fitters are not interchangeable, so be sure to use a shade with the correct fitter for your lamp. There are the three common fitters: Spider, Clip-On, and Uno.

1. Spider Fitter Shades

The spider is the most common type of fitter for table and floor lamp shades. Spider fitters sit atop the lamp’s harp (the U-shaped metal part of a lamp that fits around and protects the light bulb).

 

 

Once placed on top of the harp, spider fitters are secured to the lamp by a finial.

Shades that are up to 14″ high typically have a 1/2″ fitter drop, meaning that the fitter sits 1/2″ below the top of the shade.

Shades taller than 14″ will usually have a larger drop, and will be noted in product details.

To ensure the correct fit, Lamps Plus includes the appropriate size harp for free with each shade purchase.

 

 

 

 

2. Clip-On Fitter Shades

As the name suggests, clip-on fitters attach directly onto the light bulb with no additional hardware. Clip-on fitters come in two sizes to fit the following bulbs:

  • Candelabra bulbs
    • Commonly used on chandeliers and/or sconces.
    • Maximum bulb wattage: 25 watts.
  • Regular sized bulbs
    • Most commonly used on accent and table lamps.
    • Maximum bulb wattage: 40-60 watts (as noted in product details).

Safety Tip: Because clip-on shades are typically in close proximity to the bulb, they are not recommended for use with higher wattage bulbs than those noted above. For a brighter light, try swapping in low-wattage LED bulbs.

3. Uno Fitter Shades

The uno fitter sits directly on a specialized light bulb socket and is mainly used on European lamps. It is secured by a threaded ring that’s held in place by the light bulb.

 

Lamp Shade Shapes 

Invite new and exciting shapes into your living space.

Here are some of the most popular decorative lamp shades: bell or empire shade, drum, oval, rectangular and square.

Five different lamp shade shapes.

How to Clean a Lamp Shade

Whether you have a linen or silk lamp shade, keeping it clean will ensure a design you can enjoy for years to come.

To clean your lamp shade, we recommend wiping it down with a sponge lamp cleaner, or a soft, dry cloth.

You can also remove most dust in minutes using a lint-roller, soft brush or vacuum (with attachment).

More Lamp Shade Ideas and Advice

All About Lampshades 

Lamp Shade Buying 101

Add a New Look with Giclee Art Shades