How to Rewire a Lamp

Mint table lamp on its side to be rewired

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: One rewired table or floor lamp
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Floor or table lamps can last for years in good working order. But eventually, they may need to be rewired. Rewiring a lamp is a simple project that can revitalize your lamp and make it new again—and far safer—for very little money or effort.

Basics of Rewiring a Lamp

Lamp rewiring may be necessary due to abuse from small children or pets or simply from continuous use over time. Cords often become frayed near the plug end unless you use an underwriter's knot. Floor lamps' cords especially are impacted by foot traffic. Or you might purchase a vintage lamp and want to rewire it for safety or a different look.

The good news about rewiring a lamp is that manufacturers have already anticipated homeowners' and crafters' needs to rewire a lamp or adapt a lamp for new use. You do not have to purchase individual parts and figure out how to make them work together; the work has been done for you.

Lamp kits can be purchased at your local home center or crafts store. Most lamp kits feature:

  • 8-foot minimum cord length, especially for floor lamps
  • 18-gauge wire
  • A plug molded into place at the end of the wire
  • Replacement harp that fits into the socket and which will accept the lampshade
  • Socket rated at 660 watts/250 volts
  • Socket that accepts a standard base bulb, 150 watts maximum

Safety Considerations

Make sure that the lamp is unplugged before working on it. After the repair but before testing the lamp, the lamp must be fully reassembled.

Before You Begin

Clear off a table or a desk for the rewiring project. Make sure you have a good light source. Lay out the towels on the table, both to protect the lamp and the surface, and to prevent the lamp from rolling. Keep your tools nearby for ready access.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Wire stripper
  • Utility knife
  • Pliers
  • Clean towels
  • Screwdrivers


  • Lamp rewiring kit
  • Glue (if needed)


Materials and tools to rewire a floor or table lamp

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  1. Remove the Lampshade and Bulb

    Unplug the lamp. Remove the lightbulb from the lamp. Unscrew the finial from the top by hand, counterclockwise, in order to lift off the lampshade.

    Finial on top of lamp unscrewed to remove white lampshade

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  2. Remove the Harp

    The harp is the metal stanchion surrounding the lightbulb that holds the lampshade. Remove the harp by gently pushing the two ends together while pulling straight upward.

    Metal harp removed from around lightbulb by pushing both ends with fingers

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  3. Remove the Lamp's Protective Base

    Many lamps have a base at the very bottom that is meant to protect tables or floors. Often, this protective base is made of felt-lined cardboard, especially with vintage lamps. Carefully pry the protective base off of the bottom of the lamp.

    Felt-lined base pryed off bottom of lamp next to yellow utility knife and towel

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  4. Loosen the Socket

    On the side of the socket (at the top of the lamp) will be a screw holding the socket in place. Loosen this screw with the screwdriver. Remove the screw. Unscrew the socket counter-clockwise but leave it in place.

    Screw loosened on side of lamp socket with screwdriver

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  5. Pull the Wire Out of the Lamp

    At the bottom of the lamp, use the cutting section of the wire stripper to cut off the electrical cord, leaving about 2 inches of extra wire. Holding the socket, pull the socket and attached wire out.

    Wire pulled out of bottom of lamp with wire stripper removing electrical cord

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  6. Remove the Socket From the Shell

    With the flathead screwdriver, pop open the outer metal socket shell to expose the inner socket. Remove the socket shell from the socket.

    Outer metal socket shell popped open to remove from socket with flathead screwdriver

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  7. Push the New Wire Inside

    Slide the new electrical cord through the lamp's center post, leading with the exposed end of the cord. Secure the wires by tying them into an Underwriter's knot.

    Pushing the new wire inside of the lamp

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris


    Make sure that about 6 inches of wire extends at the other end of the center post to provide yourself with ample working room. You can trim off the excess wire as is needed.

  8. Attach the Wires to the Socket

    If the ends of the wires are not exposed, strip them with the wire stripper. Attach the exposed wires to the terminals on the new socket. Use the screwdriver to screw the wires into the terminals.

    Attaching the new wire to the socket

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris


    Usually, the socket has a silver-colored screw and a brass-colored screw. The silver is for the neutral wire, and brass is for the hot wire. If your cord is clear, the copper-colored wire is hot, and the silver wire is neutral. If the cord is white, brown, or black, the wire with the smooth surface is hot, and the one with ribs is neutral.

  9. Reassemble the Socket and Lamp

    Reassemble the socket shell around the socket. Screw the socket onto the lamp. Pull excess cord out of the bottom of the lamp. Replace the harp, then replace the protective base at the bottom. You may need to glue the protective base to the bottom of the lamp.

    Reassembling the lamp

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

When to Call a Professional

Contact a lighting specialist to help with rewiring fragile or especially valuable or old lamps. While you can rewire these lamps using the same method detailed here, you may want to give a special lamp the care that only a professional can provide.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trade. Electronic Library of Construction, Center for Construction Research and Training.