How To Measure A Lamp Size?

  • Home Decor 101
  • Posted by: carson-rutz
  • Jun 30, 2024

Selecting the right lamp has the power to completely transform a room, infusing it with ambiance, practicality, and a touch of personal flair. However, the abundance of styles and sizes available can be overwhelming. Understanding how to measure a lamp effectively ensures that you’ll choose one that harmonizes with your existing furniture. This guide will walk you through the simple process of measuring your lamp, ensuring you find the perfect lamp.

Before going into detail about how to measure a lam, let’s explore the dimensions of both lamp bases and lampshades:

Lamp bases:

  • Small bases (10 to 14 inches) suit small rooms, accent lighting, and shelves.
  • Medium bases (15 to 21 inches) work well for normal-sized bedrooms.
  • Large and extra-large bases (over 22 inches) are ideal for larger bedrooms and living rooms.
Lamp shades can come in a wide variety of custom and non-standard dimensions as well (source: lowes)
Lamp shades can come in a wide variety of custom and non-standard dimensions as well (source: lowes)

Lamp shades:

  • Small shades (3 to 6 inches)
  • Medium shades (7 to 12 inches)
  • Large shades (13 to 16 inches)
  • Extra-large shades (17 inches or larger)

Remember, when choosing a lamp shade for a table lamp, aim for a shade height around 2/3 of the lamp base height. For floor lamps, opt for a shade height around 1/3 of the base height.

Ensure that your lamp shade fully covers all the hardware, including the switch, to avoid an appearance that’s too small. However, if your lamp design features a decorative pull chain, consider selecting a slightly shorter shade to allow the chain to hang gracefully or add an appealing pull-chain extender.

What Do You Need To How to Measure A Lamp?

Lamp measurement includes how to measure a lamp for a lampshade and a lamp base (source: the spruce)
Lamp measurement includes how to measure a lamp for a lampshade and a lamp base (source: the spruce)

To measure a lamp accurately, you’ll need a few essential tools: a tape measure or a ruler, a notepad, and a pen for recording measurements.

  • Ruler: Use this to measure the dimensions of the lamp base and shade.
  • Tape measure: Use to measure the top and bottom diameters of the lamp.
  • Notepad: Jot down the measurements to keep track of the numbers.
  • Pen: Mark the measurements on the shade or base.

How to Measure Lamp Dimensions?

Lamp shade measurements are usually presented as three numbers (e.g., 7x14x7.5):

  • The first number represents the width of the top.
  • The second number corresponds to the width of the bottom.
  • The third number indicates the shade’s height or, in some cases, the length of the side if it’s tapered.

Measuring Lamp Height

Learning how to measure lamp height is an important step in finding the right replacement shade or selecting a new lamp (source: jim lawrence)
Learning how to measure lamp height is an important step in finding the right replacement shade or selecting a new lamp (source: jim lawrence)

When determining the height of your lamp, it is important to measure from the base up to the top of the lampshade, excluding any finials or decorative elements at the very top. Ensure that the lamp is placed on a flat, level surface and that it is fully assembled before taking the measurement.

Once you have the lamp set up properly, simply note down the height in either inches or centimeters. This straightforward process will provide you with the accurate overall height of the lamp, which can be a crucial piece of information when selecting an appropriate location or fixture for the lamp.

Note: 

  • Typical lamp height ranges (table lamps: 24 - 34 inches, floor lamps: 60 - 72 inches, desk lamps: 26 - 34 inches)
  • The lamp height should generally be 1.5 - 2 times the width of the table or surface it sits on.

Measuring Lamp Top Width

The top width of your lamp plays a crucial role in both aesthetics and functionality (source: tranexteint)
The top width of your lamp plays a crucial role in both aesthetics and functionality (source: tranexteint)

To properly measure the width of your lampshade, focus on the top or widest part of the shade. If the lampshade has a circular shape, simply measure the diameter across the top. For non-circular shades, such as rectangular or oval designs, measure the widest point at the top of the shade. Be sure to record this top width measurement, as this dimension will be an important factor when selecting a replacement shade or determining the appropriate size for your fixture.

Measuring Lamp Bottom Width

The bottom width of the lampshade significantly impacts how light is distributed from the lamp (source: jim lawrence)
The bottom width of the lampshade significantly impacts how light is distributed from the lamp (source: jim lawrence)

Similar to measuring the top width of the lampshade, you'll also want to determine the width at the bottom of the shade. If the shade has a circular design, measure the diameter at the bottom. For non-circular shapes, such as rectangular or oval shades, focus on the widest point at the bottom when taking your measurement.

How to Measure a Lampshade?

Measuring a lampshade separately is crucial when replacing an old or damaged shade, as well as when selecting a new shade to customize the look of an existing lamp. The method for measuring lamp shades can vary significantly depending on the type of shade design. Here are several types of lamp base design: bell shade, cylinder shade, drum shade, empire shade,  rectangle shade, square shade, tapered drum shade.

Step 1: Remove the Lamp Shade

Removing a lampshade can be a simple process, but the exact method depends on how it's attached to the lamp base (source: the spruce)
Removing a lampshade can be a simple process, but the exact method depends on how it's attached to the lamp base (source: the spruce)

First, unplug the lamp from the electrical outlet to disconnect it from the power source. Next, unscrew and remove the light bulb that is currently installed in the fixture. Finally, gently pull the lampshade off of the lamp base, taking care throughout this process to avoid causing any damage to the shade. By methodically following these three steps, you can safely access the base of the lamp and prepare it for any necessary maintenance or replacement of components.

Step 2: Measure the Shade Top Width

Capturing the top width dimension is crucial to find a replacement shade (source: the spruce)
Capturing the top width dimension is crucial to find a replacement shade (source: the spruce)

To properly measure the width of a rectangular or square lamp shade, focus on the top of the shade rather than the bottom. Stretch your measuring tool from one top side of the shade to the opposite top side, taking care to measure the longer of the two width dimensions if the shade is not a perfect square. For example, if the shade has a rectangular shape, measure the longer of the two top width measurements.

When it comes to selecting the appropriate size for a lampshade, the key measurement to focus on is the diameter of the shade's bottom opening. As a general guideline, smaller lamp bases are typically paired with 15 - 20 cm diameter shades, average-sized bases work well with 20 - 35cm shades, and larger bases can accommodate shades up to 50cm in diameter.

Step 3: Measure the Shade Bottom Width (if Applicable)

The bottom width measurement is the critical specification you'll need when shopping for a replacement lamp shade (source: jinli lighting)
The bottom width measurement is the critical specification you'll need when shopping for a replacement lamp shade (source: jinli lighting)

The bottom measurement of a lamp shade refers to the diameter or width of the shade's bottom opening. When measuring the bottom width of a lampshade, follow these steps. First, locate the bottom opening of the shade. Place a measuring tape or ruler across this bottom edge, stretching it from one side of the opening to the opposite side. Next, record the measurement that you observe, taking note of whether the units are in inches or centimeters.

Step 4: Measure the Vertical Height

How to measure a lamp?
How to measure a lamp?

When measuring the height of a lamp shade, you'll want to capture the total distance from the top of the shade all the way down to the bottom edge. For standard, cylindrical lamp shades, this is a straightforward measurement - simply place a measuring tape or ruler vertically along the side of the shade and record the height from top to bottom.

However, for lamp shades with a tapered or conical shape, the height measurement requires a slightly different approach. For these types of shades, use a straight edge and place it against the smaller, narrower end of the tapered shade. Then, measure the distance from this straight edge all the way across to the wider, bottom edge of the shade.

Step 5: Measure the Slant Edge (Tapered Shades Only)

Learning how to measure a lamp for a lampshade is essential to ensure a proper fit (source: assets)
Learning how to measure a lamp for a lampshade is essential to ensure a proper fit (source: assets)

For lamp shades with a tapered or conical design, the angled, slanted sides of the shade will actually have a longer dimensional measurement than the overall vertical height of the lamp. This is due to the gradual narrowing from the wider bottom to the more narrow top of the tapered shade.

To properly measure the slanted edge dimension of this type of lamp shade, start by placing your measuring tape or ruler at the very bottom lip or rim of the shade. Then, carefully run the tape all the way up along the slanted side, following the angle of the taper, until you reach the top lip of the shade opening. Record this full slant edge measurement.

Conclusion

By following these simple steps on how to measure a lamp, you'll be well-equipped to find the perfect shade for your existing lamp base. A properly sized lamp not only provides the right amount of illumination but also contributes to the overall aesthetic balance of your space. With the right measurements in hand, you can confidently choose a lamp that complements your décor and meets your lighting needs. 

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