Lampshade Buying Guide by Blue Marble LightingClick Here to View Available Shades in my Ebay Store
This is part 5 of a 5 parts series on how to correctly size and purchase lamp shades for table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers, wall sconces, etc. Be sure to read all of the parts in this series for the most complete information.
Part 1 How Do I Choose the Right Lampshade?
Part 2 How are Lampshades Measured?
Part 3 How Do I Know What Fitter My Lampshade Has?
Part 4 What Shade Should I Buy for my Chandelier or Wall Sconce?
Part 5 Lampshade Glossary of Terms
Part 5 of 5: Lampshade Glossary of Terms
Candelabra Shades - Small shades that usually feature a clip-on fitter. Candelabra shades are designed for chandeliers.
Finial - An ornamental decoration made of ceramic, metal, stone, crystal, wood, etc. used to securely fasten the lampshade to the harp.
Fitter - The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard size bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which its snugly on the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.
Hardback - A stuff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene, The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.
Harp - A vertical U-Shaped metals support used to attach the shade to the lamp base. Harps are typically 6-12 inches high. Changing the size of the harp often helps your shade fit better.
Lamp Base - The actual body of the lamp, typically made of crystal, brass, ceramic, resin, stone, etc. The base is wired with a socket and cord.
Lampshade - Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The lift of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)
Lining - An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.
Slant Height - The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal, in a straight line. This slant height can be used to describe the height (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shade of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface.
Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp.
Socket - Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the con/off switch. A slip UNO fitter or harp generally sits beneath the socket.