Wicker furniture can be a lovely addition to a sunroom or a covered porch, but only if the finish is in good shape. If you have brought home a wicker piece from a garage sale or a thrift shop, or if you already have a tired-looking chair, the following tips can help you rejuvenate the finish and make it a showpiece again. Painting wicker is not difficult, but it does take some time.
Types of Wicker
The word ‘wicker’ refers to the weaving process used in the construction of the piece. Wicker furniture can be made of rattan reed or twisted paper fibres. More modern pieces of plastic wicker do not need refinishing. Since the first step in any painting job is thorough cleaning, you should make sure that the piece is not made of paper fibre before spraying it down.
If you have a valuable antique, a professional restorer can repair, preserve, and refinish the piece in a way that best conserves its value and beauty.
Preparation for Painting Wicker
Make any necessary repairs to the joints or the weave. Remove all the flaking paint by scraping with a soft wire brush. Make sure that you don’t damage the strands or the weave. You can use a pressure sprayer to clean rattan pieces but take care that the pressure is not high enough to cause damage and that the glue in the joints is not softened by the water. Lightly sand the piece to soften rough edges and roughen the surface for maximum paint adhesion. Remove any dust.
Two light coats of wood primer should be applied with a brush or a compressor sprayer. This helps the new coat to adhere properly and minimizes absorbtion of the paint into the wood. Primer is especially important if the new color is very different from the original. Let the primer dry thoroughly between coats and before applying the final coat.
When painting wicker furniture, it is best to apply two light coats of paint to avoid drips or globs between the strands. A sprayer gives good results, but a brush can be used if care is taken in application. You can set up a spray booth with a large appliance box to minimize overspray of the surroundings. Be sure that the paint you choose is compatible with the former finish. Oil-based paints and primer may be more flexible and result in less flaking, but the paint professionals at your local store can advise you.
Paint the underside of the piece first, then turn it over and finish the top.
Painting wicker furniture, whether the piece is a valuable family antique or just something that you liked at a garage sale, can be very satisfying. Let the paint cure thoroughly—about a week—before you use it. Add a new cushion and you will have a like-new chair or sofa that you will enjoy for years.