How to weatherproof rattan furniture

Lightweight and stylish, rattan furniture uses fast growing canes woven together to create chairs and tables. You can use the furniture indoors, in conservatories and summerhouses, or outside. Rattan furniture is sturdy and durable but a little maintenance will ensure that it will last for years to come. For the long term care of your furniture, move it indoors during the winter months and ensure it is not left in damp and wet conditions. Weatherproof your furniture to protect it from environmental elements and preserve its natural colour and strength.

Cleaning and preparing

Clean and treat rattan furniture at least once a year to keep it weatherproof. Clean the surface to remove any build-up of dirt. Make up a solution of mild dish-washing detergent mixed with water.

Squeeze out all excess water and soap suds before wiping down the furniture so that the wood does not become too wet. Clean corners, niches or grooves with a soft toothbrush or a small paintbrush.

Attend to stains immediately to prevent damage to the wood, using detergent and a soft cloth.

Apply boiled linseed oil to put moisture back into cracks or damage to the rattan.Ensure that the furniture is aired and completely dry after cleaning.

Treat spots of mould and mildew with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of ammonia in a bucket of water. Place the furniture outside. Apply the ammonia mixture and then immediately rinse it off with water and pat dry with a cloth.

Varnish, paint and oil

Apply a coat of clear varnish to seal the wood once it is clean and dry. Begin painting the underside of the furniture first, allowing it to dry, before turning the furniture upright and coating the remaining surfaces.Apply a second coat if necessary. Leave to dry completely before using the furniture.

Paint the rattan for a more durable protection and use spray paint for a finer and more even finish. Place the furniture outside or in a well-ventilated area. Spray the underside of the furniture before turning and spraying the top. Take care to stop the paint pooling and collecting in the grooves of the rattan.

Apply a second coat of paint once it is dry, if desired. Follow this with an optional coat of varnish.


Wood is a natural substance and responds to the atmosphere as well as to weather conditions. Cracks appearing in warm, sunny weather often close following cooler, damper periods. Do not treat furniture that has not been cleaned first. The dirt will make the wood appear darker and may eventually become dislodged, causing paint or varnish to flake off.

Use teak oil instead of paint or varnish to keep the natural colour and feel of the wood, Look for good quality teak oil and use it sparingly. Dab it on with a soft brush or cloth. Remove any excess with a dry cloth and leave to dry. For best results, do this twice a year .


Avoid extremes in temperature and moisture which will damage the furniture over time. While rattan furniture likes humidity, it should be kept out of direct sunlight . If using teak oil, make sure that the oil is completely absorbed and the furniture is dry before sitting on chairs and using furniture

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft toothbrush or paintbrush
  • Linseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons ammonia
  • Bucket
  • Varnish
  • Spray paint
  • Teak oil
  • Paintbrush
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About the Author

Lizzy Darnill began writing professionally in 1999, working for "Accountancy Magazine." She holds a Master of Arts in English and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Exeter.