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Painted metal desk lamp sits on a desk in front of a grey wall.

Overview

It‘s easy to give a metal lamp a brand new look with spray paint. Here‘s how to do it.

Tip: Spray cans are premixed paint – choose a brand with a built-in primer, then pick your colour and finish. You can choose from gloss (which has a shiny finish), satin (for medium shine), or flat (for a matte finish).

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, disposable gloves and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. Work in a well-ventilated area when working with spray paint.

Steps

1Prepare the area and put on safety equipment

Before getting started, read the product instructions and put on any required safety equipment. (A mask, safety glasses and gloves are recommended for spray painting.)

Cover surrounding areas with a drop cloth to avoid overspray. A ‘paint booth’ (a large cardboard box with the front cut away for access) is a handy D.I.Y. tool for this project.

Green Bunnings hammer
Tip: Avoid using spray paint on windy days or in extreme temperatures below 10°C or above 30°C.
A woman wearing a safety mask and eye protection for a D.I.Y. project.

2Protect the areas you don’t want to paint with painter’s tape

Make sure the lamp is unplugged. Wipe over it with a microfibre cloth so the surface is clean and dry.

Remove the lightbulb and mask around all electrical elements with painter’s tape to prevent moisture seeping into them. (This includes the electrical cord, socket and switch.) Mask off any other areas you don’t want to paint.

Green Bunnings hammer
Tip: Avoid spraying movable parts (such as a flexible gooseneck) as the paint will flake when the lamp is adjusted.
A woman wraps plastic and masking tape around a lamp in preparation for painting.

3Shake the can and apply the primer

Apply a metal primer first to ensure the final paint is smooth and true to colour. Read the instructions on the back of the can carefully. Shake the can for at least two minutes after it begins to rattle to mix up the paint.

Before starting on the lamp, do a test on cardboard. If the paint is watery, continue shaking the can until the primer distributes consistently.

Position the lamp in the booth and apply primer with even strokes. Hold the can at 45°, about 250mm away, keeping the nozzle square and the same distance from the surface at all times.

Leave the primer to dry, touching it to test in an inconspicuous area.

A woman wearing an apron and safety gear spray paints a lamp outdoors.

4Apply the topcoat in the same way 

When spraying, apply slightly past the edges and overlap each pass by about a third to slowly build up the layers, leaving to dry after each coat, until the surface is evenly covered.
A woman wearing a Bunnings Warehouse apron spray paints a lamp using Dulux Duramax spray paint.

5Finishing up

Remove the tape and leave the lamp to dry completely before use. Check the back of the can for recommended drying times.
Painted metal desk lamp sits on a desk in front of a grey wall.

6Want another painting project?

Try our D.I.Y. guide to painting a bath caddy.

 

Photo Credit: Michelle Holden

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.