Tips for Updating Outdated Ceiling Fans Inexpensively

In this article: More than a dozen tips that can help you update each component of your ceiling fan’s exterior, from blades to light kits.

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Do you have a ceiling fan that works just fine but looks really old? Or perhaps it no longer matches your updated décor?

You don’t need to buy new ones. You can easily update every part of your ceiling fan, from the blades to the housing to the lights. You will have to take them down and put them back up, but it is a task most home handymen and women can do.

Updating your ceiling fans can be a cost-effective way to improve the look and efficiency of your home. Below are some tips for updating outdated ceiling fans.

Note: Remember to always turn off the power at the circuit breaker box or fuse box before working on your ceiling fan. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any updates or replacements to ensure a safe and successful project.

9 Tips for Updating Outdated Ceiling Fans

Start with these nine tips to give your ceiling fans a new look.

1. Clean It

Sometimes a good cleaning is all your ceiling fan needs to look like new. Dust the blades, motor housing and any other visible parts. Use a damp cloth and mild detergent to remove dirt and grease.

2. Replace the Blades

Replacing the fan blades is a simple way to give your ceiling fan a fresh look. You can purchase replacement blades in various styles, materials and finishes to match your home’s decor.

3. Paint It

If the fan’s finish looks worn or outdated and you don’t want to buy new parts, consider paint. Use spray paint or a brush to apply a new color or finish to the blades and motor housing.

Make sure to disassemble the fan and clean the parts before painting.

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4. Add a Light Fixture of Give It an Update

Adding or updating the light fixture attached to your ceiling fan can give it an entirely new look. Choose a new fixture that provides the desired level of lighting for your room.

5. Update the Hardware

Changing the pull chains, switch plate and other hardware is very easy and very inexpensive. Choose new hardware in a different finish or style to enhance the fan’s appearance.

6. Add a Decorative Medallion

Adding a decorative ceiling medallion to the base of your ceiling fan can provide an elegant touch. Choose a medallion that complements the style of your fan and the room’s decor.

7. Install a Fan Control

While you’re making other updates to your fan. upgrade it with a remote control or wall-mounted fan control for added convenience. Some fan controls also include features like fan speed and light dimming.

8. Balance the Fan

If your fan wobbles or makes noise, it may be out of balance. Use a balancing kit to adjust the weight distribution on the fan blades, which can improve its performance and extend its lifespan.

9. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Model

Buying a new fan might be the best option if your ceiling fan is older and not as energy-efficient as newer models. Consider upgrading to an Energy Star-certified fan, which can save energy and lower your utility bills.

Some Advice From Our Frugal Readers For Updating Ceiling Fans

You may be able to save even more money updating your ceiling fans by trying these tips from other Dollar Stretchers.

Replace the Pieces

I love my ceiling fan and use it to cool in summer and (set on reverse) to keep heat down towards living space. (See What’s That Little Switch On My Ceiling Fan? And How Can It Save Me Money?.)

My fan blades were dark and the light covers (glass) were opaque. I bought new glass at a big box home store that was prettier and on sale for a steal. At a thrift shop, I bought a whole ceiling fan for less than $10 with light color blades and switched those blades for mine.

All it took was a screw driver and the fan did not need to be removed. Plus, I have an extra motor should mine burn out.

Advice From a Licensed Electrician

As a licensed electrician. I’ve repaired and/or installed over 200 ceiling fans.

Updating a ceiling fan can be done rather easily. Change the light kit and/or the type of glass and bulbs on the fan. Change the finish to nickel, antique brass, polished brass, brown, black, white, silver and even chrome. If you plan to make several updates, price them. The parts could total a much higher cost than a new complete ceiling fan!

If you still want to do it, first check the fan out completely to see if it is in good, mechanical condition. For example, check the lamp sockets to see if they show signs of over-heating (brittle or discolored). These can be a high cost item(s) depending on the type of sockets required. Do the same for the fixture wiring throughout (look for black coloring, stiff wiring, etc.).

If any defects are found, remove and replace them. If you are going to paint the fan, pre-sand it lightly with a 320-440 grit emery paper and clean completely afterwards with a tack cloth. Paint with a metal-type paint like Rust-Oleum® or similar. For added protection if needed, seal with a matte, spray varnish.

If it looks like the update will be too expensive, buy a new one and just donate the old one.

Dress Up the Blades With Contact Paper

You don’t have to paint the blades. You can use contact paper (or any other self-adhesive) materials carefully cut out to update them and it will last longer.

If you go online, you will see how to balance your fan blades. If you hear a sort of knocking noise when they run, they need balancing. You can buy the weights at any home hardware store.

As for fan light kits, there are both entire kits that can change out how everything looks, or you can just buy new light covers that are more modern, along with more modern light bulbs.

I don’t recommend painting the metal housings because they do get hot, and trying to do so will result in peeling paint. If you spray them and get paint in the motor, it could result in a completely ruined fan.

Be Careful About Balance on the Fan

Yes, you can paint the hardware and the blades. Rust-Oleum® makes a spray paint for metal with many metal refinish choices. The blades can be painted as well. The light kits can get new shades at any big box hardware store. Just watch the opening size. There are many, many choices.

If you’re concerned about the balance on the fan when you reassemble, simply number or mark blade and slot, so you can reassemble in exactly the same way.

Nice, New and In Style

I spray painted my old ones to give it an updated look. I cleaned it well first and did three light coats of spray paint. My ceiling fan had lights/globes, and I inexpensively updated those with new ones.

Our fan looks really nice, new, and in style. It only cost a few dollars and a couple hours of work.

Make Reassembly Easy

When you remove fan blades, mark the top and the place you took them from with a matching mark. That way they will be easy to put back in the same place.

You can paint – just clean well and sand them down. Then paint away.

Reviewed April 2023

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