How to stain rattan or wicker

Updated February 21, 2017

Rattan and wicker baskets or furnishings, when well cared for, can last for decades. As the years pass, however, you may tire of the appearance of your rattan or wicker items. Rather than paint them, hiding the grain in the pattern, you can apply a stain instead. Staining the piece alters it colour while retaining the natural appearance of the piece. You can use either water-based or oil-based stains. The application process is the same basic staining process used with any other wood surface, with minor variations intended to preserve the weave. After drying, your rattan or wicker will have an entirely new look.

Place a dust sheet in the middle of an open, flat area, then place the rattan or wicker piece in the centre of the cloth so the cloth catches any drips from the staining process, protecting the floor or ground. Open any windows or doors if you're inside to provide ventilation while using the staining chemicals.

Cut the bristles on a paintbrush in half to create a brush that's both stiff and soft for cleaning the rattan or wicker piece. Use the paintbrush to dry-brush the piece, running the brush across the strands to remove any dirt. Dip the brush into a mild soap and water mix, and go over the strands with the damp bristles to clean heavy dirt deposits. Rinse out the brush and use clean water applied with the brush to rinse away any cleanser residue. Pat the piece dry with a piece of cloth.

Pour the stain into a bucket and stir with a wooden stir stick until the colour evens out. Brush the stain onto the piece with the cut-off paintbrush, taking care not to allow the stain to pool around the bottom of the piece. Wipe away any excess with the brush as you notice it. Allow the piece to dry overnight.

Check the stain for colour. If you desire a darker stain colour, apply a second layer of the stain following the same application process as you did for the first layer. Allow the second layer to dry overnight as well before using the stained piece.


Avoid separating the weave pattern while it is wet. The wicker shrinks when it dries and could snap at the joints.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheet
  • Paintbrush
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Cloth
  • Wood stain
  • Wooden stir stick
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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.