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How to refurbish a wicker chair?

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Refurbishing is a fantastic way to bring life back to something that holds memories and sentimental value. It's easy to buy new, but why buy when you can learn how to fix it? So, how do you refurbish a wicker chair? We've researched various methods for you to break down the process of bringing your wicker chair back to its glory days. 

The material of a wicker chair can widely vary. Whether your furniture is for indoor or outdoor use plays a crucial role in your wicker chair's material type. Refurbishing techniques for organic versus humanmade materials is quite different. Both kinds of wicker can be refurbished similarly without the need for a professional. Some things to consider when preparing to refurbish wicker furniture:

  • Cleaning solutions to use
  • Fixing holes and wrappings
  • Painting
  • Forms of protection for different materials
  • The longevity of the furniture 

There's a level of appreciation associated with renewing anything when doing it ourselves. Continue reading for the answers to these essential questions so that you can completely refurbish your wicker chair.

Wicker chair in an empty retro interior with mint colored wall, How to refurbish a wicker chair?

Types of Wicker For Chairs

Before we can get started on fixing any wicker chair, we need to address a few key components. The term wicker is not referring to a specific type of material. Instead, wicker refers to a technique that weaves either pliable plant or synthetic materials. Common materials used for making wicker furniture include:

Chair caner at work renovating a seat made of rattan

Indoor versus outdoor wicker chairs can sometimes differ in structure. The outdoor chairs may have either aluminum rust-resistant frames or steel framing to make it sturdy. Whereas the indoor chairs often don't. If your chair's frame busted and was constructed from aluminum or steel, welding the broken frame is not uncommon and quickly remedies it.

If you purchased your wicker chair, you should know if you have synthetic or natural fibers. However, if you don't' know, one way to tell is by touching it. Natural fibers fray, splinter, or become "weathered" by darkening in color. Synthetic fibers tend to take on the appearance of being sun-bleached or feel like hard plastic or vinyl. 

Additionally, some wicker chairs are constructed using both synthetic and natural fibers. When determining what needs to be refurbished or fixed, be it a hole, the wrapping, or the entire seat, there's no rule saying you can't use synthetic material on natural fiber and vice versa. 

Can you use bleach on wicker?

There is no simple yes or no answer to using bleach on wicker furniture. The Hampton Bay Megan series of wicker furniture states in their care instructions not to use bleach or other solvents. Bleach is known for getting out hard to remove spots of grime and stains on white colors. However, bleach is also known for ruining finishes and taking away all color.

Even if the wicker has been stained clear, bleach may strip the stain from the material and leave it bare and susceptible to damage. If the wicker is constructed of white synthetic material, bleach may be appropriate. Due to the high volume of different materials, paints, stains, dyes, and construction for each brand and model, its best to contact the manufacturer to inquire about terms of care and use for wicker furniture. 

If the wicker is older and there are many unknown factors, the best approach would be to avoid harsh chemical cleaning agents. Alternatively, test a small area that is not easily visible. How the wicker reacts will give you a better idea of how best to clean the rest of the furniture. 

How do you fix wicker wrapping?

In short, wicker wrapping is the process of wrapping pieces of wicker seen on legs, handles, or joints on chairs, benches, or other furniture. The wrapping consists of round or flat parts of the material wrapped around a pole or wood piece. 

For this example, a wicker chair is being repaired. To fix wrapping, you will need to do the following steps:

  1. Remove the broken piece of wicker wrapping. 
  2. Measure the amount of removed wicker. 
  3. Cut a new piece of wicker material that you will be using as the repair to the measurement of the amount you removed, plus an additional two to three inches. (You will cut this excess off once you repair the chair.)
  4. Soak this piece of wicker for a minimum of twenty to thirty minutes. Soaking the material will make the selection of wicker more pliable and easier to use. 
  5. Once your piece of wicker is flexible, go to your wicker chair. Put the new part of the wicker where you will be starting your repair. Use a small amount of wood glue or appropriate adhesive on your wicker material's starting end. 
  6. Put a little tack where you just glued your new piece of the wicker material; this will hold the wicker in place while you begin wrapping.
  7. Begin wrapping your wicker material around your chair leg. For a tighter wrap, glue can be added directly to the material or pole. A tight wrap is not contingent on using an adhesive. 
  8. When the wrapping is placed to the desired point, apply glue or adhesive to the wicker material's end. 
  9. Add a tack to hold the fabric in place until the adhesive and wicker material has dried. 
  10. Snip off any remaining excess fabric. 
  11. If painting is required, wait until the glue and wicker have dried. 

How do you fix a hole in wicker?

First and foremost, you need to assess the damage to the wicker. Is the hole due to broken pieces of wicker, or is the hole due to wicker material becoming loose and stretched out? If stretched out, then this is an easy fix. You will need a tool like a plier or other to use for pulling the wicker material.

  1. Pull-on the wicker material to see if it's loose or needs to be repositioned. 
  2. If open, use the pulling tool to tighten the fabric.
  3. If there is excess material, glue the end, put a tack in it until it's dry, and snip off the extra fabric.
  4. If the material needs repositioned, gently pull the material until it is even again. Remember to be gentle; the material may have warped or dried. If necessary, gently dampen the fabric to make it more pliable. 

If the hole is due to broken pieces of wicker material, the damaged parts need removing and new material added and rewoven. 

  1. Measuring the broken pieces of fabric, cut a new piece of material plus two to three inches.
  2. Soak the new part of the material for at least twenty to thirty minutes.
  3. Attach the soaked piece of wicker by gluing it to an existing wicker piece and attach it with a tack when applicable. 
  4. Weaving in the same direction as the rest of that portion of the wicker, be sure to make it snug.
  5. Continuing to weave until the hole is completed, take the excess wicker part and glue the end where desired. 
  6. Tack or staple the end. If tacking, remove the nail or tack once the glue is dry.
  7. Snip off any excess material. 

Torn empty wicker basket lay on wall in the sun

What's the easiest way to paint wicker furniture?

A paint sprayer is by far the easiest and most cost-effective option for large painting projects. Paint sprayers can use different types of paints and stains, making a versatile tool. However, for smaller jobs, it's possible to paint wicker with wither a brush or a can of spray paint. Ensure that the paint you choose is suitable for the chair's environment. 

Here is an example of a top-rated paint sprayer option. Click here to purchase on Amazon. 

What can I use to protect wicker furniture?

If you have your wicker furniture inside, you might think there's no need to protect your furniture. Indoors, wicker furniture can crack from the dry heat. A way to remedy this is by applying a damp sponge to the wicker periodically to moisten it. There's no need to submerge but merely dampen the wicker fiber. Dusting regularly also helps to protect from mold and other dirt. 

For outside wicker furniture, there are a few options. Tung oil can be applied to act as a water-resistant finish for wicker and wood products. Regularly cleaning your wicker and investing in covers to go over your furniture can help. If a liquid cleaner is applied, make sure the wicker is dry before storing it. Lastly, using clear shellac can help keep moisture, mold, and mildew out of the wicker fiber.

Click here to see tung oil on Amazon.

House patio with wicker chairs

How long does wicker furniture last?

Like all things in life, quality of materials, durability, and maintenance determines longevity. A synthetic wicker chair sporting an aluminum frame and water-resistant materials could last upwards of two decades. In comparison, a wicker chair with natural material that doesn't have an aluminum frame may only last five to ten years if exposed to outdoor conditions. Proper use and care go a long way in preserving the like-new condition of any wicker chair. 

Summary

The refurbishing process can be either short or long and tedious, depending on what your wicker chair needs. One fact remains the same; it will be worth your effort for a like-new chair.