How Do Metal Lampshades Work?

Choosing a lamp style can be difficult enough, but a lot of consideration goes into choosing a lampshade as well. There are many types of lampshade materials to choose from, but some of the most exciting alternatives to fabric include a variety of metals that can withstand heat and everyday use. Metal lampshades are often viewed as industrial or modern in design, because they abandon the soft, transparent glow that fabric or parchment shades produce. Instead, a metal lampshade redirects or reflects light downward in one direction, which is ideal for any task lighting application. In this guide, we further explain how metal lampshades work and provide insight into choosing the best metal shade for your antique or vintage lamp.

How do Metal Lampshades Work?

Most lampshades feature a wire frame that is composed of metal, so we know that metal is a sufficiently safe material to use in direct light. If you have chosen a lamp to fulfill a mostly decorative purpose, you have many metal shade options to choose from that will match a wide range of interior design schemes. Metal lampshades are sturdy, versatile, and contemporary in design. Manufacturers make lampshades out of aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and much more. Some metal shades feature generous piercing patterns that will splash a beautiful pattern on your walls. Depending on the shape and style of the metal lampshade you choose, it will either cast light downward, upward, or evenly to achieve an ambient atmosphere. Metal pendant lamps are quite popular because they focus all the light from the bulb downwards, which is especially ideal for achieving task light or illuminating surfaces.

We took the liberty of outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each material, so you can determine which metal is right for your particular light fixture.

• Aluminum: As one of the most abundant resources available, aluminum is a relatively affordable choice for a lampshade. Not only is aluminum resistant to impact, but it is also resistant to rust and other forms of corrosion. Aluminum lampshades will be lighter and less dense than steel, which is ideal for a delicate light fixture that can only handle so much weight. When damaged, however, aluminum can be difficult to reshape or repair.

• Brass: If you prefer lampshades with a luxurious look, brass may be the best choice for your lamp. This highly durable material contains a binary allow composed of copper and zinc. Though it has been used for millennia, brass is currently used in a large number of architectural applications due to its excellent corrosive resistance and its finishing, joining, plating, or polishing characteristics. Because it is prone to a black tarnish, brass does require regular maintenance. Brass is available in a variety of finishes, such as antique, polished, and much more.

• Copper: Like all other metals used to make lampshades, copper has excellent corrosion resistance. As one of the few metallic elements with a natural color other than gray or silver, copper is a fine choice for anyone that wants to add a pop of color to any room. Pure copper features a delightful orange-red hue and can acquire a reddish tarnish when exposed to air. The unique look of copper looks especially elegant when paired with an Edison bulb.

• Steel: When you think of tough and heavy materials, steel is likely one of the first to come to mind. Steel shades look utterly industrial and lend to a more contemporary design aesthetic. Sheer strength is one of steel's biggest advantages over aluminum and other metals. Structural steel is also one of the most recycled and sustainable materials in the world, so you can limit the impact of retrofitting your lamp or giving it the update it deserves.

Different Metal Lampshade Styles

Some of the most iconic shapes of metal lampshades include ball, bulb, cone, dome, flat, industrial, and parabolic. In addition to these exclusive metal lampshade shapes, you will also find many lampshades that are made of metal and feature a traditional shape: bell, coolie, cylinder, drum, empire, rectangular, and square.

We hope that this guide gives you a better understanding of how metal lampshades work and how to choose the best metal lampshade for your light fixture. If you have any questions about this article or would like to learn more about our selection of metal shades, please contact us today to speak to an experienced lighting professional.