Wicker patio furniture is a lot more fragile than other materials, so it is more prone to damage from the elements. Naturally, rain can cause the furniture to rot and degrade, but the wind and sun can be just as detrimental. The wicker can easily get dried out if it is exposed to lots of heavy sunlight and high winds. When the material loses moisture, it becomes brittle and cracks and splits.
Many people throw their patio furniture out and replace it when this happens, but what if you could restore it instead? This article will tell you everything you need to know about restoring your dried-out wicker patio furniture, and how to protect it in the future.
Is Dried Out Wicker Furniture Restorable?
Yes, you can restore dried-out wicker furniture, as long as it is not too damaged. If you take action when you first notice it starting to crack and splinter, you can rehydrate the wicker. Once it has retained more moisture and is no longer brittle, you can go about repairing it and then protecting it against the elements, so this doesn’t happen again.
This first involves rehydrating the wicker and cleaning it with a gentle solution of soap and water. Once it has dried, you can then repair any broken strands before painting/staining to protect it. Let’s take a closer look at each step.
How to Properly Restore Dried-Out Wicker Patio Furniture (Step-by-Step)
1. Clean the furniture
Start by cleaning the wicker furniture to remove dust, dirt, and grime. Take a vacuum and suck up any loose dust and dirt, making sure to get into all of the small crevices. Use a bristle attachment to get into the gaps between the strands and remove as much of the loose dust as you can.
Next, wipe the furniture down with a light cleaning solution. A few drops of normal dish soap, mixed with some warm water, works great. You can also use a homemade cleaner made from white vinegar and ammonia. Alternatively, you can use a wicker furniture cleaning spray, but if you are trying to rehydrate dried-out wicker, it’s best to use more water. So, homemade cleaners are usually best. You can find more details about cleaning wicker patio furniture in our guide here. [link other article].
Take a clean cloth and wipe the furniture down all over. Ordinarily, you need to be sparing with the amount of water you put on the wicker because you don’t want it to grow mold and mildew. But when it is dry, you want to get more moisture into the wicker.
Once you have cleaned it all over, take a bucket of fresh water and a clean cloth. Rinse the furniture down to remove any excess soap spots and hydrate the wicker.
2. Let it dry
When the furniture is completely clean, you need to let it dry properly before you move onto the next step. Ideally, you should restore your furniture in the summer on a warm day, but not too warm. Leave the furniture outside for 48 hours to dry it.
If, for any reason, you are doing this in the winter or you just get unlucky with the weather, you may have to dry it inside. In this case, ventilation is important because you don’t want mold and mildew to form on the wet wicker. Open windows if you can and consider using a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
3. Rehydrate the wicker with oil
Oil is an excellent way to rehydrate the wicker and stop it from cracking. It also gives it a nice shine and adds some moisture protection too. Linseed oil is a great choice, but you could also use lemon oil or a good quality furniture polish too. You can even use olive oil in a pinch if you want to use something you already have at home. As long as it’s a good quality oil that is suitable for use on wood, you should be fine.
To apply it, take a microfiber cloth and put some oil onto it. Rub in circles, working it into the wicker, then wipe away the excess. Drying times vary depending on the type of oil you’re using. Linseed oil takes much longer than lemon or orange oil, for example.
Once it is dry, take a look at the furniture and see whether it’s still dry. If it has been neglected for a while, you may need two or three coats to bring it back to life. Simply repeat the same process, applying the oil and letting it dry, until you are happy with the results.
4. Repair broken or damaged strands
You may have broken or damaged wicker strands if the furniture has been left to dry for a long time. In most cases, these can be repaired, but bear in mind that if the whole thing is covered in big holes it may be time to replace it.
To repair your wicker furniture, you need to remove any broken strands and then weave new ones in their place. Make sure that you know what material the wicker is (synthetic, rattan, bamboo) and get as close a match as possible. If you get in touch with the manufacturer, they may sell replacement strands. Otherwise, go to a wicker furniture specialist and see what they have.
You can watch a guide on youtube weaving the wicker strands here. It is relatively easy once you get the hang of the technique and you can even fix large holes in the furniture. Make sure that you replace any strands that are cracking, as well as the ones that are completely broken.
5. Replace the feet
The feet on your patio furniture get scratched up when you move things around. While you are restoring it, you should take the time to replace the feet. Most furniture has simple screw-on feet, in which case, just buy another set and swap them out. When shopping for new ones, bear in mind that they’re often called glides or feet protectors, depending on the retailer.
If you have wicker patio furniture with metal legs, you need glides or protectors that slide over the bottom. Double check the sizing before you buy to ensure a tight fit. It’s worth buying a few sets so you have spares if you need them.
6. Painting wicker (Optional)
Now the furniture is cleaned, rehydrated, and repaired, you should think about protecting it in the future. Painting is a great option here, and it can give your furniture a whole new look too.
Before you paint, you need to put a coat of good quality wood primer on. This stops the paint from absorbing too much and gives a good surface for it to bond to. Wicker is a tricky material to paint because there are lots of small gaps and hard-to-reach-areas. Priming first will make the job easier and result in a better finish. Ideally, apply your primer and paint with a sprayer to get an even coverage and reach all of the small crevices.
Once your primer has dried, you can paint. Oil-based paints are good for wicker furniture because they don’t flake easily and they’re durable. Make sure that you use an oil-based paint that is suitable for outdoor use. Alternatively, you can use a can of latex spray paint. Again, check it’s designed for exterior projects.
Apply thin coats of paint, moving fairly quickly back and forth over the furniture to avoid drips. You’ll need two or three coats to get a nice finish.
7. Staining wicker (Optional)
You can stain wicker instead of painting it if you want a natural wood finish. Again, you should spray the stain to get an even finish. Oil-based stains work well on wicker, but you can also use fabric dye mixed with water (at a ratio of ½ a cup of dye to 2 cups of water). Using fabric dye gives you more choice of color without painting, so you can still see some of the wood effect.
Stain and watered down fabric dye are both very thin, so you can apply with a sprayer. However, you can use a brush if you prefer. Just make sure that you work it right into all of the gaps. Work from the top down and mop up any drips as you go. Let the stain soak in for around 10 minutes (though this varies depending on the stain, so check the guidelines) and then wipe off the excess.
8. Seal the furniture (Mandatory)
Sealing your furniture after painting or staining protects it from the weather and keeps it in good condition for longer. A polyurethane clear coat is the best way to seal your paint or stain to stop cracking and peeling and protect against moisture and UV. This Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane Spray excellent as it goes on easily and it’s nice and durable.
You can read more about painting, staining, and sealing your wicker furniture here in this post.
How to Know When Wicker Furniture is Irreparable?
Knowing when to restore furniture and when to replace it can be tough. If the furniture is dried-out with a few broken strands, you can fix it up by following the steps outlined above. However, there are times when it’s not worth it.
If there are more broken strands than good ones, and the whole piece of furniture is covered in holes, it may be irreparable. Fixing it would require pulling off most of the wicker, leaving you with just the frame. At this point, you’re basically weaving the whole thing from scratch, so you should just replace it instead.
Furniture that is riddled with rot is irreparable too. Some mold and mildew on the surface can be cleaned off. But if it has been left for too long and it is deep set, you may not be able to fix it.
Generally, think about the amount of time and money you will have to put into repairing the furniture and whether the end result will be worth it.
Should You Cover Wicker Patio Furniture from Rain?
Yes, absolutely. If your wicker patio furniture gets wet, mold and mildew grow on the surface and eventually permeates through the wicker. Once it starts to rot, it does a lot of damage. Ideally, you should keep it indoors out of the rain but if that isn’t an option, you can buy covers to fit over the furniture and keep the rain off.
Should You Cover Wicker Patio Furniture from the Sun?
Yes, the sun can be just as damaging as the rain. When the wicker is constantly exposed to direct sunlight, it dries out and becomes brittle. If you leave the furniture uncovered, it dries out a lot faster and you need to restore it more often. Putting a cover over the top of it will protect it and stop it from cracking and splintering.
Should You Store Wicker Patio Furniture in the Winter?
Yes, the winter weather wreaks havoc on your wicker furniture. The rain causes mold and mildew, but the cold can be even more damaging. Water soaks into the furniture and then when the temperature drops, it freezes and expands, cracking the strands open.
You won’t be using it during the winter anyway, so you should store it inside somewhere dry to protect it. Put in a garage or shed if you have space. At the very least, put it under a good quality furniture cover. You can find more information about storing your wicker furniture over winter in our in-depth guide. [Link other article]
What are Some Other Tips to Prolong Wicker Patio Furniture Life?
Storing it in the winter and covering it up when no in use are the most important ways to protect your patio furniture. There are some other simple maintenance tips to follow too.
Most importantly, keep the furniture clean. Any spills or general dirt and grime can erode the wicker and weaken it. You can avoid this by cleaning spills straight away and giving furniture a quick wipe down with a damp cloth every now and again. Use a vacuum to clean out dust too. Every 6 months, do a more thorough clean.
If you have painted or stained it and sealed it, reapply your chosen finish regularly to maintain protection.
Even if you look after it well, wicker patio furniture gets dried-out over time. But don’t worry, there’s no need to replace it right away. As long as it is not too damaged, you can clean it and use natural oils to rehydrate it and get a few more years out of it. If you repeat this process every few years, there’s no reason why your patio furniture won’t last a decade or more.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.