wikiHow to Add Color to a Fluorescent Light

The cold, harsh light of fluorescent lamps fails to bring warmth to a room, nor is it decorative. By using inexpensive materials, you can add color and warmth to these boring lights to make your drab room or office welcoming, fun, fresh, and funky!


  1. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 1
    Gather the Things You'll Need.
  2. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 2
    Put the book covering (roll of colored plastic sheeting) on a plain surface. Roll about 2 feet (0.6 m) out flat and make sure there are no wrinkles in the covering.
  3. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 3
    Wrap the fluorescent bulb in the covering. Roll it tightly around the fluorescent bulb - there should not be any space between the lamp and the covering.
  4. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 4
    Cut the covering off the roll, and also any excess along the length of the fluorescent tube. Use transparent tape to seal the covering seam.
  5. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 5
    Cut the edges of the covering with the scissors. Be careful that you do not cut the contacts (the pair of prongs at each end of the tube). The contacts have to stay accessible.
  6. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Step 6
    Reinstall the covered bulb in the lamp holder. Turn on the light and enjoy!
  7. Image titled Add Color to a Fluorescent Light Intro


  • If you just want a warm tone light rather than a cold tone light, replace the bulb with the "warm white" kind. You'll get much more light with its mix of phosphors producing the desired color mix directly rather than by filtering out some of the light to rebalance a different color mix. It will cost very little and create no fire hazard.
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs are available in many colors, but they may just be painted regular bulbs and so not very bright.
  • If you are willing to spend a little more money theatrical supply companies offer pre-made color tubes and gels in just about any color you can think of. Some photo supply houses will also carry filters to correct fluorescent tubes to match daylight or tungsten light sources. These theatrical gel also comes in thousands of colors. A gel called "Half-minus green" will remove a great deal of the glare from fluorescent lights.
  • You can also combine two colors by overlaying them. For example, layering yellow and red results in orange. But filters work by subtracting light, so rather than mixing colors by subtracting much of what you do want and then much of what's left but less of what you want with two filters, it's often better to just find the color you want.
  • "Black" light, to make things glow, requires a special bulb. The fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent kind is much, much better than the incandescent kind.[1]


  • This is potentially a fire hazard, it is recommended that you use plastic sheeting that is approved for high-temperature applications. To reduce this risk, check with your photo or theatrical supply house for colored "gel" sheeting that is designed for use with light sources.
  • Using anything other than theatrical gel is risking a fire. Theatrical gel will never catch fire. It will melt under extreme heat.
  • Always cut the electricity before taking the lamp or replacing it.
  • Be careful when removing and reinstalling the lamp. Do not touch the electric contacts.
  • Do not use this "How To" for other lights. Fluorescent lights are the only lights that do not get so hot so as to melt the plastic sheeting and cause a fire hazard. T5 and T5HO lamps may also get too hot for this application, be careful. Some fluorescent do get hot so first try a small piece before you take the whole thing apart.
  • Even fluorescent bulbs can fail, the anode and cathode can become very hot and cause a fire. Use caution.

Things You'll Need

  • Fluorescent lamp
  • Colored non adhesive book covering / Colored plastic sheeting / Theatrical Gel
  • Transparent adhesive tape
  • Scissors

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