Caring for Wicker Furniture

Caring for Wicker Furniture
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Regardless of the material from which your wicker furniture is constructed, keeping it clean can be a challenge because of the textured surface. We cover the different types of wicker available in more detail in Choosing Wicker Furniture.
Prevent dust and dirt build-up by regularly vacuuming your furniture, or using a soft brush or feather duster. Wipe pieces down occasionally with a cloth dampened with water (wrung-out) and mild detergent. Keep water to a minimum to avoid limp or soggy wicker that will stretch out of shape.

If you are dealing with more stubborn dirt, as may be the case with outdoor pieces, you may have to resort to using a water spray from a garden hose. Wipe off the water with rags and leave the piece to dry for 24 to 48 hours, out of the sun if possible. Never spray an antique wicker piece and always keep in mind that water might seep under paint if the piece is peeling, and cause problems down the road.

Don't sit on wet wicker furniture or you will stretch the weave pattern and leave a gap in the dried wicker. If the strands dry too far out of position, they will put stress on the joints and pull your furniture askew.

Of course, if your furniture is resin or a resin compound and is weatherproof, it will certainly stand up to scrubbing with soap and water and spraying from the hose to rinse. If your furniture still needs perking up after you've cleaned it, follow these tips.

Cracking in wicker pieces is generally caused by excessive dryness and the best remedy is boiled (not raw) linseed oil, even on painted pieces. Apply the boiled linseed oil with a brush, being sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Reapply until the surface of the reed stays shiny, indicating that it is no longer absorbing the oil. Wipe off the excess oil with paper towels. (Linseed oil is very flammable, so wet the used paper towels with water and wrap them tightly in plastic before disposing of them.) Let the furniture dry at least 24 hours before making any further finishes.

If you have a bit of uneven weave or some curling ends, try home repairs. The trick is to be sure the reeds are wet and pliable so they will move and bend where you want them. To encourage them to do this, cover the area needing repair with wet rags or towels for 30 to 60 minutes. Then wrap the loose ends, glue them in place and secure them until the glue dries. If you're fixing a gap by moving the wicker strands, you may find a sharpened wooden dowel useful.

If there is extensive damage that you are unwilling to try to repair yourself, look in your telephone directory under "Caning" or "Furniture Repair."

If the finish on your wicker furniture needs refreshing, it's fairly easy to do. Scrape or sand off any loose paint and then apply a primer coat to any bare wood. Oil-based indoor/outdoor paint works best for the topcoat. Since oil painting is messy, I prefer to use the product in the spray can. Apply several thin coats rather than one thick goopy one. You can put a coat of polyurethane on but with the oil paint, it shouldn't be necessary and isn't recommend by experts since it dries to a brittle plastic coating that is prone to cracking. If you want a clear or shiny finish, use lacquer instead. With a little care and repair, your wicker furniture should serve you in your outdoor space for many years.


About The Author

Debbie Rodgers owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture and enrich them.

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