Wicker furniture is a lightweight and attractive way to provide seating on the patio or porch as well as indoors. Over time, the natural surface of your wicker furniture may fade or acquire stains from water and beverage spills. You can clean, stain, and apply a protective finish to wicker furniture. However, if your wicker piece is a valuable antique, stick to gentle cleaning to avoid damaging the patina and diminishing its value. Here's what to know about choosing the best stain for wicker.
Prep Wicker Furniture for Stain
Begin by cleaning your wicker furniture, which may be made of one of several plants, such as bamboo, rattan, reed, sea grass, or willow. Place the furniture on a covered patio, in a carport, or in a well-ventilated garage where it is out of direct sunlight. Use a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dirt, debris, and errant spiders from the entire piece. Turn it on its side or upside down to reach the bottom of the piece.
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Put on your gloves and safety goggles and then mix 1 or 2 teaspoons of ammonia with warm water and a little dishwashing liquid. If the furniture is a bit grimy from time and use, mix Murphy Oil Soap with water according to the package directions or 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of ammonia, and 1 quart of warm water. Wash the wicker with a soft brush and cleaning solution. Rinse well and allow it to dry completely.
Choose the Best Stain for Wicker
The best stain varies depending on your preferences and needs. Water-based wood stains are generally low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) and can be sprayed, making them easier to apply to wicker furniture. They also dry quickly. In addition, cleanup only requires soap and water.
On the other hand, an oil-based gel stain not only tints the wicker but also nourishes the natural fibers and can be applied over an existing finish. Oil-based stains are generally more durable than water-based stains. However, they are also higher in VOCs, take longer to dry, and require mineral spirits or paint thinner for cleanup. Rags and other oil- and thinner-saturated materials and tools must be cleaned or disposed of properly to avoid accidental self-combustion.
There are also water- and oil-based stain and polyurethane finishes, such as Behr, Varathane, and Minwax products, that provide both color and a finish coat in one step. These can be applied in multiple thin coats to deepen the color, and, if necessary, you can apply a final clear finish to protect the surface. If your wicker furniture is badly damaged or stained, you might consider paint rather than stain to restore the piece.
Stain Wicker Furniture
Stain the furniture on a clear, calm day when temperatures are between 50 and 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no rain is in the forecast. The ideal temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees. To apply the stain:
- Stir the stain thoroughly; do not shake the can.
- Apply the stain with a nylon- or polyester-bristle brush. If applying a gel stain, use a soft rag.
- Rub the stain quickly over the wicker and into the cracks and crevices.
- Remove excess stain with soft, clean rags before it dries on the wicker.
- Wait the recommended amount of time according to the manufacturer and then apply one or more additional coats of stain.
- Allow it to dry completely before adding two or more coats of a protective finish.
Apply a Protective Finish
After allowing your wicker furniture to dry for the recommended time or three to five days for an oil-based stain, apply a clear sealer in your preferred finish. In general, a matte or satin finish is usually best for wicker so it doesn't look like plastic. While you can brush on one or two coats of a water- or oil-based polyurethane, several light coats of a clear spray sealer or spray shellac product allow you to quickly coat the uneven surface of the wicker. To spray wicker:
- Shake the can for one minute.
- Hold the can 10 to 16 inches away from the wicker surface.
- Spray in a sweeping motion.
- Apply a light coat of the sealer over the entire piece.
- Wait the recommended time for drying before applying another coat.
- Shake the can again.
- Apply another light coat of sealer.
- Repeat until you're satisfied with the finish.
Alternatively, brush on several coats of shellac, tung oil, or linseed oil; varnish; or polyurethane. Use a foam or bristle brush and:
- Stir, don't shake, the can of finish.
- Brush a light coat over the wicker surface, making sure to get it into the cracks and crevices.
- Allow it to dry for the recommended time.
- Scuff lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper or scuff pad if necessary according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use caution, as some wicker furniture should not be sanded.
- Apply another coat of sealer.
- Allow it to dry completely.