How to Paint Outdoor Light Fixtures

Light fixture before and after painting.
Light fixture before (left) and after (right) painting.

The finish on exterior brass light fixtures can become weathered and unattractive over time. To improve the look, consider painting them. Here’s how to go about it.

Spray painting an outdoor brass light fixture.
Spray painting an outdoor brass light fixture.

To paint brass light fixtures:

  1. Turn the power off to the light fixture.
  2. Remove the screws holding the light fixture.
  3. Use an electrical tester to make sure the power is off.
  4. Remove the wire nuts and wires from the light fixture.
  5. Disassemble the light fixture and remove the glass panes.
  6. Clean the parts of the fixture with denatured alcohol.
  7. Sand the fixture with 00 steel wool to remove any corrosion.
  8. Clean the parts with denatured alcohol again.
  9. Cover any parts of the fixture you don’t want painted with painter’s tape.
  10. Spray several light coats of exterior paint for metal.
  11. Reassemble the light fixture.
  12. Attach the wires to the light fixture, and screw it to the electrical box.
  13. Turn the power back on, and test to make sure the fixture works properly.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Brass light fixtures weather quickly out in the elements, so repainting them is a quick, inexpensive way to revive them.

Start by turning off the power to the fixture at the circuit breaker panel before removing the mounting screws. Next, you’ll loosen the wire nuts that connect the fixture’s wiring to the house wiring. Replace the wire nuts on the house wires to cover the bare ends.

If possible, carefully remove any glass globes or panels so you don’t have to mask them. Disassembling the fixture will also make it harder to miss any spots.

Next you’ll want remove any corrosion with double 00 aught steel wool. You can use sandpaper, but steel wool will follow the contours of the fixture a lot better and offers enough abrasive let the new paint stick.

When the pieces are sanded and wiped clean, you’ll want to mask anything that shouldn’t be painted, like the light sockets themselves or motion activation sensors.

Finally you’re ready to apply a high quality enamel spray paint. Do this with several light coats, moving the parts as necessary to cover all sides.

When the paint is dry, you’ll want to reassemble the fixture, reinstall it, and enjoy the view.