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How to Repaint/Refinish Old Wicker Chairs

by Vicki Joseph on April 3, 2011

in Outdoor Furniture

Wicker ChairsWicker chairs can be difficult, if not impossible to repair once the strands start to crack. When regular wear-and-tear is sighted, owners should act quickly to preserve the chair. This can be done with the re-application of paint, liquid protector or a combination of both. Read on to learn how.

Repainting a Wicker Chair
1) Begin by washing the chair with a garden hose to remove stuck-on dirt and particles. Oftentimes dirt will accumulate inside of the wicker strands where it cannot be seen. Continue washing until the water flowing off the chair runs clear. Alternatively, you may hand wash the exterior using a wet rag. By removing the dirt, you create a clean surface from which paint can adhere to nicely.

2) If the chair has been painted before, the old paint needs to be removed. While wearing a mask and working out in the open air, apply paint stripper to all the nooks and crannies using a thin brush. Toothbrushes and stiff-bristle paint brushes work well for this step.

3) Let the paint stripper sit on the wicker chair for about 15 minutes or until the paint starts to “melt”. In this state, the paint can be easily wiped off using a rag. Get into all the small spaces with your brush. Wash out your cleaning tools frequently in a bucket of water. When done, very little paint should remain on the exterior of the wicker chairs. Let the chair dry for 1-2 days before continuing.

4) Lay out a plastic cover or use newspapers to create a viable workspace. Coat the entire surface of the wicker chair with aerosol primer and let the chair dry for the time specified on the bottle. Always start at the top of the piece and work your way down. Now the paint of choice can be applied. Select a paint designed for use on wood, preferably one which has built-in UV block. Apply an initial coat followed by a second coat 1-2 days later.

5) Alternatively, users can apply clear protector to leave the natural color of the wicker exposed. Lacquer, shellac and varnish are all viable products for the protection of wicker. Again, protectors which contain UV block are better able to shield wicker from harmful sunlight which can fade and distort. Protectors come in various finishes ranging from matte (no shine) to high gloss (very shiny and reflective). It is a matter of personal preference as to what finish to choose.

Advanced Cleaning Method:
Instead of using water on your outdoor wicker chairs, use detergent to remove the dirt. TSP or equivalent cleaners work well. If mildew is present on the wicker chair, add 1 cup of regular bleach to every gallon of cleaning product. Black splotches on the wicker can be a sign that mildew is present. Let the mixture sit on the chair for five minutes, following up with a water rinse. Let it dry completely in the sun.

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