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Painting Wicker Furniture–Tips and Hints

Victorian wicker swag chair

Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company 1898, reed wicker chair

If you own wicker furniture at some time or another you might want to know how to paint wicker furniture to help prolong its life.

So I’ve set up this handy wicker furniture painting tip sheet answering the questions I’m most often asked about how-to paint wicker. If you find this information helpful, please consider a donation!

How-to Paint Wicker Furniture–Tips and Hints

© 2008 by Cathryn Peters

Question: What’s the first step in painting wicker?
Answer: First begin by removing all the flaking paint that you can. Get a soft brass or wire brush and scrape off as much as possible.

If it’s flaking badly, I have also found success using the side of a flat-head screwdriver blade or a house paint scraper tool, but be careful not to damage the wicker strands or weave as you scrape.

wicker reed rocker with flaking paint

Flaking paint on reed wicker rocker.

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Sometimes, if you are sure you are dealing with a rattan reed wicker piece, (rather than the paper wicker) the flaking paint can also be removed at a high-pressure car wash where you spray the piece yourself.

Click the Wicker Furniture Materials article to read about the differences between paper fibre wicker and rattan reed wicker.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to damage the rattan reed with the extremely high pressure and the water may weaken the glue joints. Make sure the piece is completely dry before proceeding further.

Once the wicker piece is thoroughly dry, and you’ve removed all the paint that you can, lightly sand the rough edges to blend and also rough up the surface for better paint adhesion.

Question: Do I have to use primer before painting wicker furniture?
Answer: Yes, be sure to apply at least two coats of oil-base wood primer (using a natural bristle brush or compressor sprayer) to the bare spots, or the final paint coat will absorb like crazy. The use of a primer is especially important if you are changing the color of the piece from light to dark or vice-versa.

Then after the primer dries, apply two light coats of oil-based paint, using either a compressor sprayer or brush to apply. My preference is to use an indoor/outdoor oil-base semi-gloss house paint, applied by compressor sprayer.

Question: What type of paint is used on wicker?
Answer: I recommend using an oil-base indoor/outdoor house paint. It remains flexible, adheres to the wicker readily, and is extremely durable.In years past, I have seen far too many wicker pieces painted with Latex, that begin to flake off only after a few years of application.

However, there are many wicker experts, that swear by the good results they are experiencing with the new Latex paint products. Consult a paint expert at a reputable paint store before purchasing your supplies.

FYI: The spray can paints around now are of good quality and you might find them more to your liking, but it will take several cans of spray paint to finish the job well.

Art Deco paper wicker rocker

Art Deco painted paper wicker rocker

Question: How do you paint wicker furniture?

  • Protect surrounding areas with drop cloths and if painting outdoors using a spray method, only spray the paint on a windless day.
  • The best way to paint wicker in my opinion, is to use a compressor paint sprayer, using oil-base house paint. Please do your own research before making your purchase of a compresser, get what you need for your particular project.
  • If this is not possible, and you only have one piece to do, I recommend using a natural bristle paint brush to apply the oil-base paint, or if you wish, use the spray can method.
  • Buy the best quality paint available and make sure it’s compatible with the existing paint already on the piece, and use a wood primer, touching up any bare areas before painting.
  • When you use spray paint cans, quite a bit of paint is lost in over-spray and can end up being quite expensive in the long run.
  • So, you can either buy a paint spray booth or shelter or set up a home-made spray booth, fashioned out of an appliance cardboard box. A spray booth helps reduce overspray either way, whether you use the spray cans or a compressor sprayer.
  • Be sure to turn the chair upside down and paint all visible areas first, then tip upright and apply paint to all visible areas, getting into all the crevices and corners.
  • Give at least two light coats of paint and be sure to clean up any spills and drips immediately and don’t “glob” on the paint with thick coats.
  • Let all coats of paint dry before applying the next, and make sure you don’t sit in the chair until the paint has thoroughly cured for about a week. Enjoy your newly painted wicker furniture!

Disclaimer: This article was written by Cathryn Peters based on her own personal experiences and knowledge about the antique wicker furniture industry acquired over the last 40+ years of providing wicker restoration services. Viewers may follow these directions using their own best judgment and no liability concerning your results is assumed by The Wicker Woman or Cathryn Peters.

If you’d rather not do this yourself, search the Furniture Repair Directory here on for someone to make any wicker repairs that might be needed or to strip, prep and repaint the wicker for you.

Hope this FREE How-to Paint Wicker Furniture article helped you today. Thanks for supporting with your kind donation! And please come back often to see the additions and updates to!

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