Safe Materials for Lampshades

Lane Cummings

Most new lamps come with shades that are well-suited to the lamp style and configuration and completely safe to have in your home. If, however, if you are making your own lamp or renovating a lamp and will be creating the lampshade as well, be aware that certain materials are less safe than others.

Pretty--but are they safe?

Safe lampshades generally are the ones made of nonflammable materials.


Glass, which is nonflammable, is one of the safest types of lampshades to use and offers an endless variety of choices. For example, the classic banker's lamp comes with a dark green glass lampshade that gives off a bright green glow. The green glass keeps the light from being too bright and gently softens it. Other glass lampshades come in a variety of colors and patterns; some with tiny bubbles in them and others with frosted exteriors for a more subdued look.

Punched Tin

Punched tin, which is nonflammable, is another lampshade material that distinguishes itself for safety. Punched tin lampshades with their strongly rough and rural feel go well with rustic decor. They block the light coming directly from the light bulb, letting it out only through the designs and patterns punched into the tin. This material makes a safe and unique shade.


Shells are a suitable type of lampshade for those who have green, environmentally friendly homes or those who appreciate novel, nontraditional looks. Shells are inherently translucent and naturally diffuse the light from the bulb which makes them suitable as lampshades. Use large shells as complete lampshades for small lamps and bulbs or peeled shells formed into layers and sheets for larger lamps that need larger shades. Seashell lampshades instantly lend a distinctive look.