How do you restore wicker garden furniture?

We’re looking at how you can make do and mend and restore your old weathered wicker garden furniture to give it a new lease of life for summer 24…

Here at Lazy Susan, whilst we would love you to purchase new metal garden furniture from us, we are also big proponents of “making do and mending”. As a society, we are often too quick to throw away and buy new.

The great thing about our metal furniture is that it is made from cast aluminium. It is built to last and infinitely recyclable. If the painted finish is looking a little tired after several years or more in the garden, then it can be sanded down and re-powder-coated or painted. It doesn’t owe you anything.

Re-cycling or up-cycling old furniture offers several benefits though, both practical and environmental, and of course, it can be more cost-effective than buying new pieces. If you do buy new, then with cast aluminium you know it's not going to end up in landfill.

Repairing and reusing old furniture reduces the demand for new materials and decreases the amount of waste. It's a sustainable practice that helps conserve resources and minimises our environmental impact.

By restoring and personalising old weathered pieces, we can also breathe new life into them and create something unique that reflects our garden style and personality.

Wood is a great material for restoring and easy (if not a little messy) to work with. Metal is maybe a little more scary for a DIY novice but it is easy to find professionals who can weld and refinish if you don’t fancy tackling the job yourself.

Wicker on the other hand is a funny one. It is a traditional form of handmade furniture that goes back centuries but it's a skill many of us don’t have in our lockers. So, how would you go about restoring it? Plus many modern wicker pieces are made from synthetic poly-rattans, and plastic resin is fickle and tricky to repair.

Well, that’s what we want to discuss in this post. How can you start thinking about reviving and restoring your old weathered wicker garden furniture?

What is wicker outdoor furniture made from?

 What is wicker outdoor furniture made from?

First things first though, and apologies as we always do this in these types of articles, but it is worth defining what the terms “wicker” and “rattan” mean as they’re used interchangeably.

Wicker refers to both the style of weaving and the furniture piece itself. While rattan is the material used to weave wicker furniture (or other items). It is often synthetic in our industry, or traditionally natural rattans include materials like bamboo, reed, or willow.

Synthetic wicker patio furniture has become very popular in the UK in recent years due to it being affordable, lightweight, and durable, and while the synthetic resins used are suitable for the UK climate, they often retain a natural look that complements our outdoor spaces.

Here at Lazy Susan, we think that restoring old wicker patio furniture could be a fun and rewarding project, allowing you to breathe new life into pieces that may have weathered or worn over time, and maybe give it a nice colour change.

You can restore synthetic rattan wicker furniture in much the same way as natural wicker furniture too, so here’s our general guide to help get you started on restoring your old wicker outdoor furniture this summer:

1. Clean the rattan furniture

Before any repair work, start by giving the furniture a good wash to remove any dirt, dust, or grime that has accumulated over time. Use a soft brush or hoover with a brush attachment to remove debris from in-between the strands of woven rattan. Then wash the furniture with washing up liquid in warm water. With synthetic rattans, you can get them wet but with natural, use a cloth, give it a good ring out and “damp dust” it as you do not want to saturate it.

2. Repair damaged areas

Inspect the furniture for any broken or damaged pieces of rattan. You can often repair minor damage by gently bending and reshaping the wicker strands or using adhesive to reattach broken pieces. For the synthetic rattans, which are prone to splitting at the points it is woven tightly over a metal frame, and we have found that a quick-drying epoxy resin is best for this job. For more extensive damage, you may need to replace damaged sections of the weave or reinforce weak areas with additional support. Amazon stock a host of Plastic Wicker Repair Kits.

3. Sand and smooth surface

Once repaired, if the rattan or the furniture piece has a rough or uneven surface, you can sand it lightly to smooth out any imperfections. Use fine-grit sandpaper (around 600 grit) and wet sand the surface, being careful not to sand too aggressively, as this can damage the woven strands. Lightly sanding the surface can also help the primer and paint affix better.

4. Apply a primer to your outdoor wicker furniture

If you’re going from dark to light or the surface is a little patchy, then you will need to apply a primer. Generally, 2 coats will suffice, but the key is to leave it to fully dry before you apply the next. Look for a primer that’s suitable for plastic or specifically for use on synthetic materials. These types of primer are specially formulated to adhere well to plastic surfaces and create a good base for subsequent coats of paint. Always follow the manufacturer's safety precautions and application instructions for the best finish.

5. Apply paint or stain to your outdoor wicker furniture

Once the furniture is clean, repaired, and fully primed, you can apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to revitalise its appearance. Choose a paint or stain that is specifically formulated for outdoor use and compatible with the type of rattan material your wicker furniture is made from. Again, always follow the manufacturer's precautions and application instructions for the best finish. Spray paints generally give the most professional finish, however, if you’re not comfortable with them or you don’t have the space to do it, then look for a paint that you can apply evenly with a brush. Chalk paints suitable for outdoor use, for example, give a great brushed-on wicker finish.

6. Seal to finish and restore wicker furniture

To protect the newly painted or stained finish, once fully dry, you can also apply a clear sealant or varnish to give some extra protection. This will help to preserve the colour you’ve put on and prevent damage from the sun and rain. Make sure to choose a product that is suitable for outdoor use and compatible with the paint or stain you've applied.

7. Replace cushions and upholstery

If your wicker furniture includes cushions or upholstery, then a great way to give them a facelift, even if the furniture doesn’t need the above, is to consider replacing the fabrics. If you are doing all of the above, then this is a great way to complete the restoration process. Choose fabrics that are designed for outdoor use and resistant to fading, mildew, and moisture. Our How to make cushion covers for outdoor furniture has the lowdown on what you’ll need and how to make them.

A few of our fave Wicker Furniture Makeover Videos…

If you prefer something a little more visual then there are some great How To videos on YouTube. Seeing a task being performed makes it easier to understand the process and visualise the desired outcome with your furniture, so we’ve selected a few of our faves to help get you started:

First up we have Carrie at Lovely, etc with their how-to paint wicker furniture video. It is easy to follow and they share how you can give your tired wicker furniture a fast, inexpensive update with spray paint.

If you want to see somebody transform a wicker outdoor sofa set that looks fit for scrap into something completely transformed rather than simply restored, then this video from Jonathan Morgan is a great watch:

And last up, we have Faff designs showing you how and the fab results that can be achieved with chalk paint:

If you have any photos of your Lazy Susan Garden Furniture, we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload Here.

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