A Guide to Lampshade Fittings

Gray table lamp with white shade against a tufted headboard

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A beautiful new lampshade has the power to transform not just an old lamp, but a whole room. Whether it's for a table or a floor lamp, it can add character and style and help diffuse a bright light to create a pleasant ambiance and cozy warmth. If you are currently on the hunt for a new lampshade, besides considering the size, material, and color, a key factor to keep in mind when shopping is the lampshade fitter. A fitter refers to the metal structure that connects the lampshade to the lamp base and is a key component of a light fixture. There are four commonly used lampshade fitters—a spider, an uno, a Euro, and a clip-on. Read on to find out more about each of them, what they look like, and how they work.

What Is a Lampshade Fitter?

A lampshade fitter is the metal structure on a lampshade that consists of prongs and a central attachment, usually called a washer, that connects to a lamp base. It is the part of the shade that secures it to the base, either using a harp, by sitting on top of the socket, or by clipping directly onto the lightbulb. A fitter is typically gold, silver, black, or white in color.

  • 01 of 04

    Spider Lampshade Fitter

    Close up of a traditional style lampshade with a beaded detail

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    Best for: a table or floor lamp with a harp, vintage, and antique lamps

    A spider fitter is made up of three metal prongs, sometimes called arms, that come together in a circle, or washer, in the middle to attach to a harp on a lamp base. A harp is an upside-down u-shaped metal piece that is connected to the base and sits around and above the lightbulb. A lampshade that features a spider fitter is secured onto a harp using a finial that needs to be twisted until tight to keep the lampshade in place so it sits straight and doesn't wobble.

    Make sure the metal that the spider fitter is made from matches the finial for a consistent look. You'll generally see gold, silver, black, or white spider fitter and finial—matching the two will create an intentional and streamlined look. This type of fitter is the most common of all those available on the market, so chances are the majority of lampshades you consider will feature this fitting.

    The majority of older and antique lamps have more detailed and elaborate hardware, including a harp, so if you are picking out a shade for a traditional style lamp—it will likely require one with a spider fitter.

  • 02 of 04

    Uno Lampshade Fitter

    Floor lamp with woven shade in front of a brown curtain panel

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    Best for: a table or floor lamp without a harp

    Unlike a spider fitter that sits on top of a lightbulb, an uno fitter sits underneath it. It is a frequently used lampshade fitter that is placed directly on the socket before a lightbulb is screwed in, so essentially it is the lightbulb that keeps it in place. This type of fitter has a wide central ring that's large enough to sit on top of the socket and three arms that connect to the sides of the lampshade.

    One of the main benefits of a lampshade with this particular fitter is its versatility because it doesn't require a base with a harp. You do however need to measure the size of the inner ring on this fitter and make sure that it will fit on top of the socket on your lamp base, as not all will be the exact same size. An uno fitter that is larger in size is sometimes referred to as a Euro fitter, so take note of that when shopping for your new lampshade.

  • 03 of 04

    Clip-On Lampshade Fitter

    Brass wall sconce with white lamp shade on a floral print wallpaper

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    Best for: small shades for a wall sconce or chandelier

    A clip-on lampshade has a fitter that does exactly what its name suggests—it clips directly onto the lightbulb. It has teardrop-shaped metal prongs that clasp around the bulb that hold the shade in place. The least common of the three-shade fitters— the clip-on is most often seen on small lampshades that are designed to fit on a wall sconce or chandelier.

    These mini shades come in various styles—from traditional bell-shaped ones that work well with a traditional light fixture above a dining table to more modern shades perfect for a contemporary wall sconce in a hallway or bedroom. The clip-on design makes them an easy and inexpensive way to update a light fixture that's installed into the wall or ceiling, as you won't need to replace and install the whole things to enjoy a different look thanks to the new shade.

    Clip-on fitters are available in two standard sizes that correspond to the size of the lightbulb since they attach directly to it. The smaller is for candelabra lightbulbs that are used on a chandelier that features lampshades and the larger is for regular-sized lightbulbs used in a single or double wall sconce.

  • 04 of 04

    Euro Fitter

    Floor lamp lit in a dark room

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    Best for: table or floor lamp without a harp

    A Euro fitter is perhaps more of a sub-category than its own lampshade fitter category, as it is very similar to an uno fitter. Just like an uno fitter, it is used for table and floor lamps that don't have a harp. The key difference, however, is that it is wider than a classic uno fitter and the ring that makes up its construction is thinner. It sits directly on the socket, so when assembling the lamp, the shade needs to be placed on the socket first, followed by a nut, then tightened with a lightbulb.

    If you have a lamp that requires a shade with a Euro fitter, but yours has a different style of fitter, such as the smaller uno fitter, there are inexpensive adapters that can be purchased and used to accommodate the lampshade.

Choosing a Lampshade Fitter

Whether you are looking for a new lampshade for a table lamp, a floor lamp, or a wall sconce, finding out the type of fitter you need and getting the correct measurements is essential before making your purchase. Start by measuring the lamp base to get the proportions of the shade right, decide what shape would look best, whether the lamp will serve more of a decorative purpose or only be used for ambient lighting, or if it will be a primary source of light in the room.

Once you have determined what size, style, and material lampshade you would like, search for the shade type and make sure that it features the correct fitter—a spider, an uno, or a clip-on fitter. Keep the color of the metal used on the harp and finial in mind when shopping for a new lampshade, so that the fitter matches and doesn't look out of place or mismatched.

Lampshade Fitter Convertors

A lampshade fitter convertor sometimes referred to as an adapter, is a clever piece of hardware that allows you to use your chosen lampshade even if its fitter doesn't correspond with the hardware on the lamp base. For example, a metal ring adapter can be purchased to convert an uno fitter into a Euro fitter. While those two types of fitters are the most similar of all the different styles, it is also possible to convert fitters that are completely different in structure.

There is a slip-on uno adapter that looks like a classic uno adapter on the bottom but has a harp attached to it, which will allow you to use a lamp base that requires an uno fitter with a lampshade that has a spider fitter. These converters are typically quite inexpensive, ranging from $10 to $20, which is much less than having to purchase another new lampshade to correspond with the needed fitter.

The converters usually come in silver and gold finishes, so you can choose one that matches the hardware on your lamp base for a consistent look. The uno to spider fitter converters are available in several different standard sizes such as seven and 10-inch versions in order to fit different-sized lamps. The larger the lampshade, the larger the harp that will be needed. Lampshade fitter converters can be purchased online, at various brick-and-mortar home retailers, and in hardware stores.

While a clip-on fitter may be the least commonly used of all the different types, there are converters available for this style as well. It converts a spider fitter with a small washer into a clip-on that you can slide any regular-sized lightbulb in. Once again, it is available in multiple finishes to match your lamp base hardware. All these converters are easy to use and install and are an inexpensive way to make a lampshade work without having to purchase a brand-new one.