How To Care for Wicker Furniture
Maintaining and Repairing Wicker Patio Furniture
When it comes to outdoor furniture, few material furnishings can hold a candle to wicker. Wicker patio furniture is exceptionally light and easy to maintain, it’s a very durable material, and it looks and feels casual and comfortable. If you own outdoor wicker furniture, you will undoubtedly want to keep it looking great and functioning well for years to come. This article provides useful tips on cleaning and repairing wicker patio furniture.
Cleaning Outdoor Wicker Furniture
You will need:
1. Small vacuum cleaner with a soft bristle brush attachment
2. Clean cloth
3. Detergent, with bleach
4. Small paint brush
5. Small wire brush
6. Oil-base wood primer
7. Oil-base indoor and outdoor house paint
Unlike a lot of other outdoor furniture, wicker patio furniture is actually pretty easy to maintain. Clean up any spills immediately with a clean cloth, and for best results, wipe down your wicker furniture about once a week and use a mild, non abrasive detergent with bleach to inhibit mildew and mold. Since a variety debris can become wedged between the wicker cane, consider taking a small vacuum to your outdoor wicker furniture every so often. Use a soft, small bristle brush attachment so you don’t damage the wicker cane. When you clean your outdoor furniture, avoid soaking it, as wicker can take a long time to dry (as long as two or three days). Excess water also tends to warp and expand the weave of wicker furniture, which will deform it and lead to more problems (more information on replacing damaged wicker is below).
You have no control over outdoor conditions, but when wicker furniture is used indoors or in storage, it is also a good idea to try and control the humidity levels. Overly low humidity will cause your wicker furniture to become brittle and fragile. Excess humidity, on the other hand, will make wicker overly pliable and it may warp. To make your outdoor wicker furniture last as long as possible, avoid subjecting it to extreme weather conditions or excess sunlight.
In time, the paint on your wicker furniture will inevitably crack. When this happens, you will need to reapply paint with a small, slightly stiff paint brush. First, use a wire brush to scrape off peeled and loose paint. Then, apply two coats of oil-based primer. When that has dried, you can paint your furniture with outdoor-safe house paint using either a brush or a paint sprayer (which is much, much faster). If you wipe off your wicker patio furniture regularly and paint it every so often, you will surely enjoy it for a lifetime of relaxation and outdoor satisfaction.
Repairing Outdoor Wicker Furniture
Eventually, your wicker outdoor furniture will probably incur some damage. This is either due to warping, cracking, or sometimes, a serious hole in the wicker weave.
You will need:
1. Small towels/cloths
2. Tung oil (or boiled linseed oil)
3. Round reed wicker cane
4. Carpenter’s glue
6. Knife (or heavy-duty scissors)
7. Needle nose pliers
Warping is the most common problem you will encounter with wicker patio furniture. This happens when sections of the furniture become over saturated and expand, leaving you with random “wandering” strips of wicker cane that overlap or otherwise fall out of place in the weave. To correct this, drench a small towel or cloth in water and wrap it around the warped area. This will soften up the wicker cane – remember, wicker is very pliable! Once the wicker has soaked, move it until it is back in place. Sticking the repaired area in a vice or some other tool to help retain its shape until it dries is recommended.
Occasionally, you may notice that individual strips of cane will “crack,” or develop small fissures on their surface. Apply tung oil or linseed to the affected area with a soft brush, making sure to completely fill the crack. Wait for the wicker to absorb the oil, and repeat until no more oil gets absorbed. At this point, remove excess surface oil with a paper towel or cloth. Give the oil at least a day to dry. Then, if all goes well, the crack will be completely repaired and strengthened, and ready for a new finish. Safety note: tung oil is combustible, so keep it (and any soaked towels) away from any heat source.
Finally, you may at some point notice a broken strand or two of caning on your outdoor wicker furniture. This procedure requires replacement of the full cane strip, so cut the strip off at the point of damage. Buy some round reed wicker cane, available at most hobby stores, and soak the needed length of cane in water for about half an hour. Glue the remaining end of the original strand to the frame, and then take the new strand (which should be only slightly longer than the strand it replaces) and glue one end tucked under the remaining portion of the original strand. Apply a tack to keep it in place. Then, begin to weave the wicker cane around the frame following the same pattern as the original. Using needle nose pliers usually helps. When you have finished weaving, tuck the end of the strand under an existing strand, glue it in place, and apply a tack. Then, all you have to do is wait for the glue to dry, and you’re ready to paint! Your wicker patio furniture will be back intact and ready for the spring and summer months entertainment.