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How to Measure Lamp Shades

by Tiesha Whatley

Matching floor lamp and table lamp in a den

Things You Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Lamp shade

While deciding to redecorate a room, the idea may start small -- a fresh coat of paint, an accent chair to warm up a bare corner or new pictures to hang on the wall. Somewhere along the line, you notice that you need new lamp shades. Or maybe you find the perfect table lamps but aren't too crazy about the shades. It is quite easy to just change out lamp shades. Before running off on a quest to find the perfect new shades for your table lamps and floor lamps, ensure that they will fit by measuring your current lamp shades.

Measuring Lamp Shades:

  1. Remove the lamp shade from the lamp base. This will make it easier for you to measure. Place the lamp shade on a steady, even surface for accurate measurements.

  2. Measure the lamp shade's top diameter. Hold the measuring tape at one edge of the top of the lamp shade and pull it across to the opposite edge. Measure across the spider, which is the metal crisscross frame at the top of the shade that houses the clip for the light bulb. Pay attention to how the spider sits. Is it flat across the top of the shade, or does it dip down a bit? With a dipping spider, measure how deep the dip is and take note of these measurements.

  3. Measure the lamp shade's bottom diameter. Hold the measuring tape at one end of the shade (the side with a wider opening unless you have a drum shade where the top and bottom measure the same), and pull it across to the end diagonal to the starting point. Write down this measurement.

  4. Measure the lamp shade's depth. Hold the measuring tape along the inside seam, from top to bottom, of the lamp shade. Take note of the depth measurement.

  5. Calculate the lamp shade's slope measurement. On drum shades, the slope will be equal to the depth. But on shades where the top and bottom diameters don't match, the slope is measured differently. Because there is a slope, the depth measurement should be replaced with the slope measurement. For instance, say that the top diameter is 4 inches and the bottom is 4 inches; you don't have to worry about the slope measurement but can concentrate on the depth, which will be the accurate measurement from the top edge to the bottom edge of the shade. Your measurements will be 4 inches (top) by 10 inches (depth) by 4 inches (bottom). On the other hand, if the top diameter is 4 inches and the bottom is 6 inches, then the measurement along the seam is the slope length measurement and not the depth. Here, the measurements would be 4 inches (top) by 10 inches (slope) by 6 inches (bottom).

  6. Measure the harp, if there is one. The harp is the metal ring that connects to the socket for the light bulb. It looks like a ring that comes over the light bulb and is used by some light shades to attach to it. Make a notation if one is used on that particular lamp. Also measure the harp's length and make note of the measurement.

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