How to Measure Lamp Shades

Silver lamp with brown lampshade
When you're looking for a new lamp shade, it's important to know the size of your current lamp shade so your new one fits just right. Because lamp shades are usually listed with measurements for height, top width, bottom width, and slope, these are the measurements you'll need to take. To measure your lamp shade, grab a measuring tape and something to write down your measurements; then follow these four easy steps.

Silver lamp with brown lampshade
infographic of lampshade being removed

Remove the Lamp Shade

Remove your lamp shade so the lamp doesn’t get in the way while you take measurements. If you’re unsure of how the lamp shade should be removed, then skip to the lamp-shade fitter section below.

Infographic of lampshade

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. If your lamp shade is a square shape, you can measure one edge of the square to get the diameter measurement. Remember to write down each measurement.

Infographic of lamp shade diameter

Measure the Lamp Shade’s Bottom Diameter

Measure the bottom diameter in the same way you measured the top. The widest part of your new lamp shade should be at least an inch or two wider than the lamp’s base on each side for a balanced look. If your lamp is tall and skinny like a candlestick, then find a lamp shade with a width about equal to the height of the lamp’s body from the base to the light bulb socket.

Infographic of lampshade slope and height

Measure the Lamp Shade’s Height and Slope

To measure the height of the lamp shade, set the shade on a table or another flat surface. Place one end of your measuring tape against the table and measure straight up through the middle of the lamp shade to the top. If you have a cube or drum lamp shade, you can measure one of the vertical sides for the height. To find the slope, just measure the side of the shade from the top edge to the bottom edge. An ideal lamp shade should conceal all the hardware above the base of the lamp.

Types of Lamp Shade Fitters

Most lamp shades attach to the lamp with a fitter that is included with the shade. You’ll be able to tell which fitter a lamp shade has just by looking on the inside. Here are a few of the most common fitters you’ll see when looking for a new lamp shade.

infographic of three lampshades

1. Spider Lamp Shade Fitter with Lamp Harp

A spider fitter consists of a wire frame with a washer in the center that sits inside the top of the lamp shade. The spider fitter sits on top of the lamp harp, which is another wire frame attached to the lamp’s base. Lamp harps usually come with the lamp but can also be purchased and replaced individually. The fitter and the harp are secured together with a lamp finial that screws on top. Lamp finials can be switched out to customize the look of your lamp.

2. Clip-On Lamp Shade Fitter

A clip-on fitter is a wire frame inside the lamp shade that attaches directly to the light bulb. This type of fitter does not involve any extra hardware and fits any lamp with the correct size and shape of light bulb.

3. UNO Lamp Shade Fitter

An UNO fitter is a wire frame that slips onto the light bulb socket to hold up the lamp shade. Sometimes the frame features a threaded washer that screws onto the socket. These fitters are more size-specific than other types and require extra attention to find a correct replacement.

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