How to Restore Antique Wicker Furniture

Written by ehow hobbies, games & toys editor
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Antique wicker furniture can make a lovely addition to any home, bringing warmth and comfort into any room. Although it is often available at flea markets, antique stores and garage sales, it may need to be restored before being brought into your living space. Restoring antique wicker furniture is not a difficult project and you can restore any piece by following three simple steps.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Medium bristle brush--a vegetable brush is a good choice
  • Soft cloths
  • Mild detergent
  • Wood glue or screws
  • Rattan reed
  • Spray primer and paint
  • Furniture stripper--if absolutely necessary
  • Clear spray finish

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    Clean the Furniture

  1. 1

    Brush the furniture with a medium bristle brush. This will remove much of the dirt that builds up between the wicker strands and give you a good look at what else needs to be done.

  2. 2

    Wash the piece with a mild detergent. Fill a bucket with warm water, pour in a tablespoon or two of detergent and use a soft cloth to wash your wicker furniture.

  3. 3

    Rinse the soap off with warm water. Use a quick splash of water to rinse the piece, then dry it with soft cloths. Be sure to let your wicker furniture stand for 24 to 48 hours before proceeding with the next step in its restoration.

    Repair the Furniture

  1. 1

    Take pictures of your piece before you begin your repairs. This will give you a guide to how the finished piece should look. Take close ups of the weaving for future reference.

  2. 2

    Examine the frame. Use wood glue or screws to make sure the frame is very sturdy. Pull any loose joints together and glue or screw them to make them secure.

  3. 3

    Fix any holes. Remove the broken strand of wicker and replace it with a new strand that you have soaked for 30 to 45 minutes, copying the weaving pattern of the piece. Start and finish weaving two or three inches before or after the beginning and end of the removed strand to weave the new strand securely into place.

    Refinish the Furniture

  1. 1

    Decide whether you need to strip the finish. Most antique wicker furniture is painted white. If your piece is, it is very difficult to strip the old paint from the wicker strands. If it is not, you may decide to whether or not to strip the finish depending on what finish you plan to use.

  2. 2

    Spray the piece with primer, allow it to dry thoroughly and re-spray with white paint. This is the quickest and easiest finish for your antique wicker furniture and often the most authentic.

  3. 3

    Use any good furniture stripper if you absolutely must strip and refinish your piece. Allow the stripper to soak into the wicker to completely remove the old finish. Re-strip any areas that do not respond well to the first treatment.

  4. 4

    Let your wicker furniture dry 24 to 48 hours after stripping. Then either paint or refinish your piece with a clear finish. Spray applications are the most convenient to use when restoring wicker furniture.

Tips and warnings

  • Wring most of the water from your cloth before washing your wicker furniture. Too much water can warp the wicker strands.
  • When repairing a hole, be sure to only remove one strand at a time.
  • Do not remove any of the wicker strands to repair the frame. This will only decrease the sturdiness of the piece.
  • Do not use polyurethane to refinish your piece. It can make the wicker dry out and become brittle.

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