Furniture Restoration: Old Wicker And Cane Furniture

Bring chairs made from wicker or cane back to life, tips on technique and process for restoring.

Sometimes the best part of owning antique furniture is restoring it from a dirty, cracked, dull piece of furniture to its original splendor. Restored furniture also makes a great conversation piece. If you're considering some old furniture restoration, you may want to start with something easy, such as wicker or cane. It's not hard to bring furniture made from these materials back to life, as long as you don't mind investing a little time and elbow grease.

The first thing you'll need to do is get rid of any excess dirt and grime. Take a vacuum with a hose attachment and go over the entire chair until it looks as though all the filth has been removed. Once this is done, mix a solution of mild dishwashing liquid (one without any alkalies or bleaches), or a wood soap such as Murphy's Oil Soap, in some warm water. Using a brush, clean all the dirt off, taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies that wicker and cane are so famous for. To rinse, you can either use a sponge and a bucket of clean, cool water or simply hose the piece down outside. Keep in mind though that wicker and cane can get a bit soggy if they get too wet. Make sure the furniture is tilted when washing and rinsing to allow the water to run off. Some people recommend using towels or hair dryers to dry the furniture after a good cleaning. It's also recommended that no one sits on the furniture until it's completely dry since you don't want it to lose its shape. It's good to note, however, that when the piece does dry, it will assume its original shape and size.

Once your wicker or cane furniture is cleaned, you'll want to remove any cracked, peeling or flaking paint. You can do this by using a wire or soft bristled brush and gently scrubbing everywhere the paint is cracking or flaking until no more paint can be removed. After that, take a low- grade piece of sandpaper and gently sand smooth the entire chair.

When your furniture is clean and smooth, you have a few options. If you like the way it looks after cleaning, you can leave the piece as is. Sometimes cleaning off all of the dirt and neglect is all that's needed for restoration. Otherwise, you can paint the piece or you can stain it. If you're going with paint, first paint on a couple of coats of an oil-based wood primer. Once that dries, apply a couple of coats of semi-gloss paint. One specifically for indoor-outdoor use is best if the piece is something that will sit on the front porch or in the back yard. Since wicker and cane have so many places that can be missed by a paintbrush, you might want to invest in a paint sprayer that can get into all of the crevices and corners. Spray paint from a can also works well for this project. If you won't be painting but want the furniture's natural beauty to shine though, you can apply a coat of clear lacquer or varnish.

As you can see, restoring wicker or cane furniture really isn't difficult at all. The hardest part is the cleaning, but if you enjoy restoring old treasures, this is sure to be a project you'll enjoy.

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