Why Are Lamp Shades So Expensive? (9 Reasons Why)

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Brandon Porter

Brandon Porter is an architectural draftsman of 25 years and a self-proclaimed handyman. He loves renovating homes and making them his own, whether it's fixing up the plumbing or painting the walls.

Lamp shades can cost more than buying a new lamp, which may seem slightly unrealistic. It has become a common problem many people solve by purchasing an entire lamp to get the shade.

That is an excellent way to obtain one as long as you are not looking for anything unique, fancy, or specialized in any way. But why are lamp shades so expensive?

Why Are Lamp Shades So Expensive?

1. Shipping Costs Increase Prices Of Lamp Shades

If you have ever worked in a retail setting, you will understand how complicated it is to ship a lamp shade. They need special packing to prevent damage during packing and shipping.

Excessive amounts of packing are required, which makes it necessary to pack the shades in a large box, giving room for extra protection. These large boxes are not heavy but big enough to cost additional shipping.

When the box being shipped weighs less than the shipping company’s limits, they will charge you by size. This means that the bigger boxes will cost more to ship than expected.

2. Packing Costs Increases Prices Of Lamp Shades

Extra packing required for lamp shades does not come free and does not grow on trees. Many boxes have Styrofoam pieces between the shades when more than one shade is shipped.

Shades themselves must have protection around the box’s outer edge, increasing the prices even more. Cardboard spacers cost money, which is handed down to the consumer.

3. Manufacturing In the US Takes Paid Workers

Lamp shades produced in the United States take workers that need to be paid a decent wage to work. It takes more than one to keep the manufacturing lines going, which means a higher cost of wages.

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Plus, the company employing the workers must pay workers’ compensation fees for the legally required policies and pay part of the medical and retirement benefits fees that are offered to them.

4. Manufacturing Overseas Increases The Costs Of Shipping Even More

Lamp shades produced overseas, such as in China, can decrease the upfront cost of the units, but it takes extra shipping to get them to the wholesale and retail stores around the nation.

Shipping costs alone are enough to raise the prices of buying them in the store, but they also have to deal with the expenses of getting the shades through customs and onto the shipping container.

Covid-19 has caused some severe problems within the shipping industries. Not only because of the lack of supplies and workers but the new regulations put into place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

5. Making Them Requires Skilled Workers

Making Them Requires Skilled Workers

Skilled workers cost more than average laborers, and since the lamp shades are not on automated production lines, the employees must be adept at putting them together.

Workers skilled at their jobs will cost more in wages upfront, and the longer they are at the company, the higher their pay will go. More costs in wages are passed down to the consumers buying the shades.

When the company is short-staffed, the hiring process is not as easy as picking an application and hiring. They must go through a process to ensure the new employee is skilled enough to be trained.

6. Warehouses To Store Shades Cost Money

Walk through the lamp shade aisles in any large retail store, and you will see numerous sizes, shapes, and colors of shades. Not many are universally designed and produced.

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Since the production lines have to be set up for each shade that they make, they do not sell one unit at a time. In fact, most of them come in packs of 5 to 10 shades per box shipped.

This increases the amount of storage room the outlet stores need to store the extras they get. Storage rooms cost money, which is a cost factored in to the selling price.

7. Hand Made To Order Are Expensive

Retail stores offer a lot of lamp shades to choose from, but they are all generic and common. You will be lucky to find something that you could call unique unless you make changes yourself.

When a design or color is needed that is not an average shade, you will need to go to a specialized shop that makes or repairs lamp shades. This is the best way to get a specialized lamp shade.

Specialized shades mean more costs, but sometimes it is the only way to get the shade you want, designed how you want, in the colors you need to match the lamp’s surroundings.

8. Cost Of Materials Continues To Rise

Production lines rely on other manufacturing plants’ materials to make the lamp shades. When these costs go up for them, the prices they hand down to the outlet’s increase.

These increases are also passed on to the consumer. Nothing can be done about this because each step in the supply chain must be able to make a profit to survive.

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It increases even more if you have a hand-ordered lamp shade in the works. That is the best way to get a top-quality shade, but the materials involved may increase the costs.

9. Supply And Demand Controls Prices

In today’s modern world, it is important for people to follow the trends set by most consumers. Lamp shades are one of those trends that seems to change often.

When you think about it, buying a lampshade to change your lighting style is cheaper and easier than trying to find an entire lamp to go along with the trends.

This is what consumer demand is all about. The supply chains must increase their production amounts to meet the demands, which means they need more workers to keep on top of the other shades.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why wall ovens are so expensive, why refrigerators are so expensive, and why espresso machines are so expensive.


You can see why lamp shades cost as much as a lamp or even more. You can always go with the generic ones that you can find on the shelves or websites of the big retail giants.

The bottom line is that if you want a unique lamp shade colored to match your home, you will need to spend the extra money required to obtain them.


  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter is an architectural draftsman of 25 years and a self-proclaimed handyman. He loves renovating homes and making them his own, whether it's fixing up the plumbing or painting the walls.

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