Lamp Makeover: How to Spray Paint a Brass Lamp

By on February 26, 2014

how to spray paint brass lampOne item I come across a lot in my thrift shopping are these old tarnished brass lamps. Most of them work great but just look yucky with all that tarnish.

The good news is I can pick them up usually pretty cheap and with a little paint, I can give that old lamp new life!

Since completing my laminate furniture painting project, I was on the prowl for an inexpensive lamp to put on my lovely red buffet table for my dining room. I picked up two of these babies for $15 on my local area Yard Sale Facebook page…which I admit I am totally addicted to. I’ve got a friend moving in town soon, so I grabbed one for myself and one for him, so I’ll do another paint job on that one that is more in style with what he likes.

Brass Lamp Before

As you can see it’s a perfectly fine lamp in great condition. The only problem of course is the tarnished brass and the very plain and outdated lampshade. With this project I wanted to give it the same finish that I used on my buffet table hardware so let’s see how I did.


The first thing we are going to do is remove the lampshade, the light bulb and the metal harp. Then I used some painters tape to tape off the top of the lamp. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t paint the cord, so I stuck most of it inside a grocery bag and taped it up all the way from the bag to the lamp base.

Primer Painted Lamp

Then it was time to head out to the garage and do my coat of primer on the lamp base. When you’re using spray paint it’s best to use long sweeping passes on the object you are painting and don’t stay in one area for too long or you will get drips. I’m using the Rust-Oleum White Primer for this lamp makeover. Typically I grab this or Painter’s Touch…both made by Rust-Oleum and both are really good. This stuff dries really quick but I let it sit overnight.

Painted Lamp

Next, I applied the Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze, which happens to be my latest addiction, but is also the same paint I used on the hardware on my buffet table. The picture above is after one coat and you can see I missed some spots. That’s ok! I went back over it with a second coat to make sure I hit all the areas and it was perfect.

I applied 2 coats of the Minwax Spray Lacquer in the satin finish just to give it a bit of protection.

The last thing I wanted to do was to replace that lampshade. I had bought 2 broken lamps from a yard sale a few months ago with mismatched lampshades and since I was breaking this set of lamps up anyway I snagged one of the lampshades and put it together with this lamp and I love it. It was missing one string of dangly beads, but I just turned it to the back and you can’t even tell.

Painted Brass Lamp After

I absolutely love this lamp makeover and it goes so well with my new buffet!

About Misty Spears

I absolutely love all things DIY, especially when it comes to decorating my own home. I’m a thrift store junkie and my head just explodes with ideas to repurpose old junk into something practical and beautiful when I come across that perfect treasure. I’m a wood furniture rebel and try to paint every surface I can to bring color into my life. My life revolves around my family and enjoying every moment that life serves up to me. You can connect with me on Twitter @diyhomeinterior, Instagram @mistyspears and see my pins on Pinterest for a sneak peak into all the DIY projects I am working on and crazy life happenings.


  1. Bonnie Gean

    February 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Wow Misty, this turned out beautifully!

    Like you, I like to restore old furniture, but it’s a project I can’t indulge in because of where we live. As soon as the 6-figure year rolls in, that will definitely change. :)

    Thanks for the inspiration! I love your ideas!

    • Misty Spears

      February 27, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Thank you Bonnie! I’ll keep tossing the inspiration out there. :)

  2. Nate

    February 26, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Wow, this came out really nice! You brought this lamp back to life and it looks awesome! Great work!

    • Misty Spears

      February 27, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Thank you Nate! Thanks for stopping by and check it out.

  3. Michael Levanduski

    February 27, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Really great lamp there! It is amazing how great something can look with just a fresh coat of paint!



  4. Misty Spears

    February 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Glad you like it Michael. Thanks for commenting. :)

  5. Michele G.

    May 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Now i’m going back to get that old yucky lamp at the flea market!

    • Misty Spears

      May 4, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Those are the best ones…mostly because they are the cheapest! lol

  6. Sherry

    May 29, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I have an old brass too that I want to refinish. Thank you for the instruction. It turned out great.

  7. Sherry

    May 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    You just made me think. I have an old outdated brass headboard, you know the kind with the ceramic for decoration. Could I transform it the same way?

    • Misty Spears

      May 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Absolutely! I’ve actually been on the lookout for either a brass or the old black iron style headboard for my guest room for a project like this. I haven’t found it yet unfortunately but I plan on painting it using my homemade chalk paint that I did on another project in this dark grey almost black color. But…if you wanted to keep the metal quality of it, you could very easily do this same treatment, in fact the oil rubbed bronze on an entire piece like a headboard would be beautiful. You could always leave the ceramic or paint that using a complimenting color. Good luck with it!

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