Complete Guide to Repairing and Refinishing Your Wicker Chairs

Complete Guide to Repairing and Refinishing Your Wicker Chairs

So, you’ve got a wicker chair that’s seen better days? Don’t fret! With a bit of know-how, you can breathe new life into your beloved piece. It’s easier than you’d think to repair wicker chairs, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Whether it’s a broken reed or a loose weave, your wicker woes can be fixed with a few simple tools and techniques. You don’t need to be a DIY expert to get your chair back in shape. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started on this rewarding project.

Remember, repairing your wicker chair not only saves you money, but it also helps preserve the charm and character of your furniture. So why wait? Dive into this guide and learn how to make your wicker chair as good as new.

Key Takeaways

  • Wicker chair repair can save money and preserve the charm and character of your furniture, with damage ranging from minor issues to major ones like broken reeds.
  • It’s essential to assess the damage properly before undertaking any repair work. This can help to identify the type and extent of damage and the tools and materials required.
  • After damage assessment, gathering the necessary tools, protective gear, and repair materials is crucial. Select wicker material in accordance with the chair’s original material and your preference.
  • Repairing broken reeds involves soaking new reeds to make them pliable, removing the damaged reed, weaving in the new reed, and allowing it to dry thoroughly to maintain chair strength.
  • Fixing loose weaves requires gently lifting the sagging strands, applying wood glue, and pressing the reed back into place. Leave these repairs to dry for around 24 hours.
  • Lastly, applying a fresh coat of finish enhances the aesthetic appearance of the reconditioned wicker chair. Ensure the chair is dry, work in a well-ventilated area, and apply thin coats of finish, allowing each to dry thoroughly.

Repairing and refinishing wicker chairs can restore their original beauty and strength. This Old House provides a detailed guide on mending broken strands and rejuvenating faded areas. HGTV discusses the refinishing process, including selecting the right paint or stain to protect and beautify the wicker.

Assessing the Damage

Assessing the Damage

Before diving headfirst into your wicker chair repair project, it’s essential to assess the damage properly. Careful assessment can help you figure out the extent of the repair work and what sort of tools and materials you’ll need.

Get up close and personal with your chair. Check each part carefully – the seat, the backrest, and even the legs. Not every imperfection is visible at a glance, so take your time to get a proper overview.

There’s a spectrum of damages typically seen in wicker chairs. These range from minor issues like loose ends to major ones like broken reeds. Minor issues can be dealt with using simple tools and methods. With major damages, you may need to replace the reeds or entire wicker section entirely. However, don’t be deterred, even major repairs can be undertaken by yourself, with the right equipment and guidance.

Your hands can be great judges, too. Feel the wicker for any rough, uneven or brittle spots. These areas often indicate areas where there’s been excessive wear or material breakdown.
Remember, the sturdiness of the chair isn’t compromised just by visible damages or breaks. Loose weaves can also weaken your chair substantially.

Identifying the scope of damage can shape the repair process. Ask yourself: How many areas are damaged? Is the wicker dry and brittle? Are there broken reeds or unraveled ends? To help you track, here’s a table to mark down the type and extent of damage. Noting this down will help you strategize your repair plan effectively.

Type of DamageExtent of Damage
Brittle WickerMinor/Major
Broken ReedsMinor/Major
Loose EndsMinor/Major
Unraveled WeavesMinor/Major

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a roadmap for your repair plan. You’ll know what tools to arrest, the kind of materials to source and the techniques you’ll need to master. Embrace this hands-on aspect of the project and enjoy the journey to restoring your wicker chair.

Gathering the Tools and Materials

Gathering the Tools and Materials

Having identified the type and extent of your wicker chair’s damage, it’s now time to gather the necessary tools and materials for your repair project. Being well-prepared not only increases the efficiency of your work, but also improves the quality of the finished product. A little extra time spent here will pay dividends in the end.

First, safety should be your top priority. Broken reeds and rough weaves can cause injury if not handled properly. Therefore, you’ll need a pair of thick, protective gloves to shield your hands. Safety glasses, too, are recommended to keep stray fragments from getting in your eyes. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Next, let’s talk about the important tools for your wicker chair restoration. A standard toolkit for wicker repair includes common household items like scissors and a ruler, along with specialized supplies like needle-nose pliers, a rattan prying tool, and a utility knife. You’ll find that having the right tools on hand can make a world of difference in the ease and smoothness of the repair process.

And then, of course, you’ll need the repair materials themselves—the wicker. Wicker comes in a variety of materials, including rattan cane, reed, and synthetic resins. The kind you choose will depend on your chair’s original material and your personal preference. When in doubt, consult with an experienced wicker worker or do a little online research.

Last but not least, you’ll need a work space that is both comfortable and well-lit. Consider setting up on a table covered in cloth to make your work easier and to protect your project from potential damage.

In the next section, we’ll delve into the actual repair methods and techniques that will breathe new life into your damaged wicker chair. Stay tuned.

Repairing Broken Reeds

Getting started, we will focus on the reeds, as these are the most commonly damaged parts of a wicker chair. Broken reeds appear frayed, splintered, or completely detached from the chair’s structure.

To repair detached or splintered reeds, you’ll need to prepare the replacement reeds first. Soak the replacement reeds in water for about 30 minutes until they become pliable. This process makes weaving easier and reduces the risk of breakage.

Once your replacement reeds are pliable enough to work with, carefully remove the damaged reed from your chair frame using your needle-nose pliers or scissors. Remember, it’s crucial to remove these parts gently to avoid causing additional damage to the chair frame.

After removing the damaged reed, it’s time to install the replacement. Start at one end of the damaged area and weave the new reed into the chair’s design. Use your pliers to firmly but gently weave the new reed into the old patch. Make sure to pull the reed tight, yet carefully, to ensure your chair maintains its structure, resilience, and visual balance.

With the reed firmly in place, you will need to allow it to dry completely before applying any weight to the repaired area. Drying typically requires 24 to 48 hours, depending on your environment’s humidity levels.

While waiting for the fixed reed to dry, consider taking the time to inspect the rest of your chair for additional damages. Catching these early can save you a lot of time and effort down the line.

Every wicker chair repair is unique and it’s crucial that you adjust your approach based on its specific damage, age, and material. Don’t forget to keep your workspace well lit and comfortable, keep safety a priority, and pay close attention to the more delicate parts of the chair’s frame.

Stay tuned for the next section, which will provide ample guidance on how to replace the sagging or broken seats of your wicker chair.

Fixing Loose Weaves

A common issue that you may come across in wicker chairs is loose weaves. The loose or sagging weaves may indicate age, long-term wear and tear or weak/broken reeds. But fret not, rolling up your sleeves to tackle this issue isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Here’s how you can regain the chair’s former shape and strength.

To begin, carefully examine the loose area. Identify the direction of the weft and warp, the horizontal and vertical strands of your weave respectively. Understanding the weave pattern is significant as it dictates how you should repair. This understanding will prevent you from further damaging the chair. You’ll realise the beauty of wicker chairs resides not only in their aesthetic but also in their woven intricacies.

Ready to fix? Perfect! Start by gently lifting the sagging strands using a flat and thin tool, like a butter knife or flat screwdriver. Mind you: a gentle touch is key here. The aged strands especially tend to be fragile, so excessive force could potentially lead to breakage or further sagging. Isn’t it obvious? Patience shines as the name of the game.

Once the sagging reed is lifted, apply a small amount of good quality wood glue. Then, press the reed back into its correct position. The glue ensures the reed sits in place maintaining the weave pattern and chair’s structure. Again, the ample application of glue—no more, no less—is crucial.

As a rule of thumb, allow the glue to dry for 24 hours. Refrain from using the chair during this period. It will ensure the repaired weaves have ample time to adhere properly.

Applying a Fresh Coat of Finish

Applying a Fresh Coat of Finish

Now that you’ve restored the weaves and replaced any sagging or broken seats on your wicker chair, it’s time for the next challenge. Giving your reconditioned wicker chair a fresh coat of finish secures your repair work and improves its aesthetic appearance.

First off, ensure your chair is entirely dry. Applying finish to a wet chair may seal in moisture and promote rot. Once your chair is absolutely dry, you can begin the finishing process.

Selecting the right finish for your wicker chair can be a daunting task. Consider marine varnish for outdoor furniture. It provides a robust and highly protective coat against the elements. On the other hand, lacquer or shellac are great for indoor wicker pieces. They give a hard and lustrous finish that is highly resistant to water and scratches.

Next up is the application process. Smoothly applying finish to woven furniture takes a little finesse. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.
  • Protect your workspace with a drop cloth or old newspapers.
  • Using a natural-bristle brush, apply your chosen finish in thin coats, ensuring you cover all sides of the weave.
  • Allow the finish to dry completely between coats, usually 24 hours

Repeat the application process until you obtain your desired luster. Keep in mind to follow manufacturer guidelines on the products you use for correct usage and safety precautions. You’ll find the process becomes smooth and enjoyable with practice.

With the right finish, your wicker chair will not only impress with its renewed look but will also offer an extended lifespan. So, while it may seem a bit daunting at first, this step is indeed worth the effort!

Remember, maintaining wicker furniture is a continuous process, and with each repair, your skills become sharper.


So you’ve seen how to breathe new life into your wicker chair. You’ve learned how vital it is to let your chair dry out completely before applying that fresh finish. You’ve discovered the importance of choosing the right finish, be it marine varnish for those outdoor pieces or lacquer/shellac for your indoor decor. You’ve also mastered the art of applying thin coats with a natural-bristle brush in a well-ventilated space, and the patience of waiting 24 hours between each coat. Remember, following the manufacturer’s guidelines isn’t just a suggestion, it’s key to achieving the best results. But don’t forget, this isn’t a one-time event. Maintaining your wicker furniture is an ongoing process. Each restoration you undertake not only enhances the chair’s look but also extends its lifespan. It’s a labor of love that’s well worth the effort.

Why is it important to apply a fresh coat of finish on wicker furniture?

Applying a fresh coat of finish on wicker furniture restores its beauty while acting as a protective barrier. This not only enhances the furniture’s appearance but also extends its lifespan.

What should one ensure before applying the finish?

It’s crucial to ensure that the wicker furniture is completely dry before applying the finish. This is to prevent moisture retention which can damage the furniture.

How should one choose the appropriate finish?

The selection of the finish depends on where the furniture will be used. Marine varnish is recommended for outdoor furniture while lacquer or shellac is suitable for indoor pieces.

How does one apply the finish on wicker furniture?

Finish application involves working in a well-ventilated area. Apply thin coats of finish using a natural-bristle brush, allowing 24 hours of drying time between each coat.

Why is it important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines while applying the finish?

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines ensures that the finish is applied correctly for optimal results. It also reduces the risk of improperly using the product which can lead to damage.

Why is maintenance of wicker furniture important?

Maintenance sharpens one’s repair skills and keeps the furniture in good condition, making it a rewarding ongoing process. This also helps preserve the charm of the furniture over time.