What Type of Fabric Can You Use for Lamp Shades?

Christine Chen

Basic lamp shade fabric provides shade from the light, while more expensive fabrics serve as decoration for the room, and other fabrics block light from coming through.

Two Basic Lamp Shades

The two basic types of lamp shades are hardback and silk.

The Hardback Lamp Shade

Hardback lampshades are made of plastic or paper using a pressure-sensitive styrene. One side of the styrene is made of plastic and the other is a sticky side onto which a chosen type of fabric or paper can be laminated.

Hardback lampshades are either translucent or opaque. Translucent shades let maximum amount of light shine through, while opaque blocks out any light from shining through the shade.

Fabric Used for Silk Lamp Shades

Silk shades are not completely made of silk. They are made of an outer silk or other fabric covering, but the inner fabric lining is usually a white cotton, and both fabrics are stretched over a full wire frame. These silk shades are more expensive than the hardbacks but are more durable. The silk lamp shade's full-wire frame enables the production of many decorative shapes.

Other Fabrics

Other fabrics used for lampshades include cotton, canvas, linen and damasks. The fabrics are combined with decorative adornments such as pleats, rope trims and embroidery to produce attractive lamp shades.

Cleaning Instructions

Hardback shades are cheaper than silk shades but cannot be washed. When one gets dirty you can clean it by gently brushing off the dust and wiping the shade with a dry cloth.

On the other hand, silk lamp shade fabrics are washable in warm, soapy water or with a washcloth and can be dried.

For other fabrics you can use a soft cloth or a vacuum brush to dust the lamp shade inside and out.