Cover the work area well before you start painting your shades.

How to Hand Paint a Roman Shade

by Linda Erlam

You will be a super-Mom when you hang custom-painted roman shades. Paint a team logo, a princess's slippers or a favorite animal. Or paint stripes, polka dots or a plaid to match the room decor. If you aren't an artist, consider tracing a design or using stencils. Keep the fun going by using inexpensive premade shades and let the kids paint them, creating their own one-of-a-kind window coverings.

Lay the shade down. You'll eliminate the risk of dripping if you paint the shade while it's flat.

Protect your painting surface with a sheet of plastic covered with an old sheet or absorbent fabric such as washed muslin.

Remove any cords from the back of the shade. Don't cut them; they will be reattached. If the paint seeps through, it could adhere the cords to the shade, and removing them prevents this from happening.

Lay the shade right side up.

Tape the edges of the shade to the sheet or undercloth, if your design permits. Use 2-inch wide painter's tape and run a strip across the top and bottom, and down each side edge. This secures the shade. If you can't secure the shade, use weights to hold it in place as you paint. Cans of tuna or jars of baby food work well as weights.

Prepare your primer, if required, and apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Primer provides an even-colored surface and provides an adhesion medium between the fabric surface and the paint. If you do not want a uniformly colored surface or are confident your paint will adhere to the fabric, skip the primer step.

If you primed the fabric, let it dry according to the primer instructions before proceeding.

Paint the design on your shade using your chosen method of application. Use fabric-specific paint or mix fabric medium with acrylic paint following the manufacturer's instructions. You can use craft paint that is specific to fabric, or house or craft acrylic or latex paint mixed with the fabric medium. Test the mixture on a sample of similar-weight fabric.

Apply several thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat, letting the shade dry between coats. Thickly applied paint could soak through and adhere the lining to the fabric.

Heat-set the paint, if directed by the fabric medium application instructions. This makes the shade washable.

Re-string the shade and install it in place.

Items you will need

  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Fabric undercloth
  • Painter's tape
  • Craft or acrylic paint
  • Fabric paint medium
  • Iron
  • Paintbrushes


  • Using 8- to 12-ounce canvas works well for painted roman shades if you are making them from scratch. Bleached white canvas does not need to be primed.
  • Buy fabric medium for paint at artist supply stores.


  • Regular paint dries stiff. Fabric paint, or paint with fabric medium added, is pliable when dry; it should not crack at the fold lines of the shade.

About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images