Tips and Advice

How to paint wicker, cane, rattan and bamboo furniture

Bring your tired wicker furniture back to its former glory with not much more than a lick of paint.

Compared to other furniture materials, cane and rattan furniture is much easier to source, whether first or second-hand, thanks to its popularity in the 1970s and ’80s. The material is also generally inexpensive, reassuringly sturdy and crying out for a makeover.

Colour is the quickest, and prettiest, way to gussy up furniture, and spray-paint is the best way to achieve a smooth, even finish on bamboo, cane and rattan. Soft tones can be difficult to find — most manufacturers lean towards a garish palette – but some lovely shades are available. White is always a winner, especially for outdoor pieces, and soft, muted greys, blues and greens are perfect for updating bent cane and bamboo. Add some cosy cushions in muted shades, opting for classic stripes for a ‘summer in the Hamptons’ look or botanical prints to carry though a plantation theme.Black, charcoal grey and deep reds are modern and dramatic and bright shades of lilac, orange and green give a fresh air to modern wicker.

White paint is the perfect choice for this sort of project, immediately refreshing a once-dated piece.

What you’ll need:

Clean your piece of furniture

Before you start, clean the piece thoroughly, second-hand buys especially. Brush briskly all over with a soft brush — one from a dustpan set works well — then vacuum (using the brush attachment) to remove loose dirt and grime from hard-to-reach places. Wipe the whole piece down with a sugar-soap solution and then leave to dry completely.

Apply the undercoat

Apply a layer of undercoat or acrylic primer. This helps create an even surface and reduces the amount of spray-paint required for each piece. You can buy spray-on primers, but a standard acrylic primer applied with a soft brush will work just as well.

Apply spray paint

Once the primer is completely dry, begin to apply the spray paint. You will need to work in a very well-ventilated space or, preferably, outside in a protected area that’s not too windy. Spread drop sheets over the whole area and place the piece in the centre of the sheets. Apply the first coat of spray paint in a gentle, sweeping motion. To achieve an even finish, it’s best to apply several light coats to prevent drips forming. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the length of time to leave between coats as it differs by brand.

Allow to dry

Once you’ve achieved an even finish over the whole piece, leave it to dry overnight and then check the entire surface for any missed areas or uneven patches.


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