Can You Make a Lampshade out of Paper?

August 09, 2014

Can You Make a Lampshade out of Paper?



We often hear this question from people who want to make their own lampshade, since paper or card is readily available and inexpensive. So, can it be done? The answer is yes, but there are some reasons why it might not be your best option.


  1. Safety. While you sometimes find cheaper lampshades in stores that appear to be made out of cards, there is a fire hazard with paper- or card-lined lampshades. It is possible to use cards for a lampshade with a diameter large enough to guarantee that it will never overheat, and one that you can also guarantee will only hold a low-wattage or low-heat light bulb. But for a household electrical item that people often leave unattended, it might not be worth the risk.

  2. Durability. Paper or cardboard lampshades may not have a long shelf-life since the paper can deteriorate over time and may be more prone to damage.

  3. Opacity. Depending on the color, weight or thickness of the paper, your lampshade may not let enough light through the shade. When choosing paper or card for your lampshade you will have to weigh up between thicker cardboard, which will be more sturdy but will also let less light through; or thinner card or paper, which may let more light through, but can also be easily damaged.

We recommend making a lampshade with styrene instead of paper, for the most sturdy, safe, and professional-looking DIY lampshade. Most high-quality commercial lampshades are lined with styrene, a type of plastic that has heat- and flame-resistant qualities. It is also sturdy and durable, and white styrene sheeting diffuses light effectively but also lets it shine through. Self-adhesive styrene is included in all our DIY Lampshade Making Supplies, which let you make your own custom lampshade. You can also purchase sheets of adhesive styrene separately.



If you'd like more lampshade-making tips & tricks, subscribe to our newsletter! You'll get a free guide when you sign up, plus great tutorials and tips delivered to your inbox every couple of weeks.