How to Restore Antique Light Fixtures


Make Use of Grans Old Lights

Antique light fixtures are normally left unused and stored in the basement of your house. However most of these antique lights can still be used if it is restored correctly with some minor clean up on the fixture.  A true antique can also be a great investment especially if you are considering selling these  items to: antique stores, antique dealers or even through trademe.

You don’t have to worry about breaking any rule when it comes to antique light fixtures. Just remember that the volt-amperes is the same calculation as wattage. All lights, which also include fluorescents, have ratings in wattage that should be specified on the fixture. The wattage rating is supposed to be equal to the fixture’s overall light output.

An antique fixture normally is coated with layers of paint, varnish or even shellac. Make sure that you carefully remove any top layer that covers the antique light fixture without doing any damage to the metal of the fixture.

Safety First

If you are unsure about the quality of the lighting fixture then please get it checked out by a qualified electrician before attempting to plug it in.

To Restore Antique Light Fixtures, You Need:

  • Ammonia based cleaner
  • Rags
  • Sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Paint stripper
  • 0000 steel wool
  • Degreasing cleaner
  • Cotton swabs
  • Metal polish
  • Soft rags
  • Buffing cloth
  • Container or pail

Lets Get Started

First thing that you need to do is to mix one tablespoon of your dish washing detergent together with water in a container.

  • Dip a sponge into the mix solution.
  • Then, take the sponge and scrub your light fixture enabling you to remove all the grime and residue found on the fixture.
  • After that, take a toothbrush and dip it into the mix solution and scrub any difficult areas that you could not reach using the sponge.
  • Leave the paint stripper for at least 20 minutes to soften the paint or varnish
  • Besides that, if you are also able to remove any dirt and residue on the fixture.
    • Once done, you should dry the light fixture by using a soft towel.
  • If there is any paint on the fixture, you can apply a 0.6cm  thick coat of paint stripper onto the fixture.
  • Then, use 0000 steel wool and scrub the metal fixture lightly so that you can remove any paint, shellac or grime on the surface of your antique light fixture
  • If there is any excess of chemical residue from the fixture, you can wipe it off with a sponge and clean water.
Remember the Shade

Antique light fixtures normally come with a shade that can soften the light when it is in operation. If the shade is still in good condition, you can maintain to use it. However, you can also change the shade to a new one that compliments the modern element and blends in nicely with you room décor.

  • Any metal on the fixture needs to be cleaned thoroughly using a degreasing cleaner
    • Dip a soft cloth or a toothbrush or even using a cotton swabs into the degreasing cleaner
    • Then, wipe the soft cloth or toothbrush or cotton swabs in order to remove all residues that you can find on the light fixture.
  • Use a soft rag to apply the polish to the light fixture.
    • Make sure to use suitable metal polish that is appropriate for the metal fixture.
    • Polish the metal by rubbing it according to circular motion.
  • Remember to always remove all the patina from the fixture.
  • Then, you can rub the fixture using a buffing cloth. Always use a brisk back and forth movement in order to produce a shining metal.
  • Finally, you need to apply metal polish onto the light fixture and then you are done. Good Luck!

Always remember

That whenever you are restoring antique light fixtures

  • Make sure to switch off the power supply before you do any restoration on your light fixtures and also remove the shade and place it in a safe area.
  • It is important for you or a paid professional to check on the wiring whether it is still in good condition or not, if not, it will need to be rewired accordingly.


Print Friendly


  1. Pingback : How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | DIYit

  2. March 10, 2014  11:26 am by Joy Reply

    I have several antique metal lights that are original to my victorian home. I don't want to damage the painting on them. Each is covered with a base paint, then has decorative light green and pink highlights. Removing the paint would take away from the charm of the fixtures. How do I clean them and restore the original beauty?

    • March 11, 2014  8:28 am by Lewis Brown Reply

      Hi Joy, first things first - unplugged your antique light:) Then you could remove the excess dirt with a compressed air duster and a soft cloth. Then use a baking soda and water mix (creates a gentle paste and should not be too thick) with a toothbrush to clean accordingly and wipe down with a wet cloth.

  3. Pingback : How to Remove Mould on Antique Wood | DIYit

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.