It's June 1st, and you are ready to drag out the wicker furniture for your patios and porches. If your wicker has been in storage all winter, it's time to brighten it up a bit. One of the easiest ways to clean old wicker is with soapy water and a soft brush. Wicker is pretty hardy, and can take a bit of scrubbing with ease, especially if it's painted. After washing, just lightly dry it with an old towel and let it finish drying in a shady spot.
For vintage wicker collectors, some of the best pieces are those in their original natural finish. The less done to these pieces the better. Avoid painting antique wicker that is still in it's original natural finish.
Old painted wicker can be stripped, but usually it's just better to not strip it, since it's a very messy, time-consuming job. If your wicker is made of sea grass or twisted paper wicker, it will not respond well to stripping. Often just a quick washing and complete drying, followed by a very light coat of spray paint will bring life back to your wicker. Painting only needs to be done once every several years.
If you do decide to paint your wicker, pick a dry, low-humidity day. Prior to washing, remove flakes of old paint with a stiff dry scrub brush, then wash as mentioned above.
Repair loose wicker by tucking it in and glueing it with a good quality white wood glue, with the loose piece securely held with a clamp until dry. If the wrappings on the legs have come loose, you can fix that easily. Just unwrap a few turns, apply glue to the frame and then carefully re-wrap. Tape your repair to hold it in place until it dries - overnight is best.
If your wicker chair needs replacement wicker strands, it's best to leave to a major repair to the professionals, who can match the right diameter of wicker and re-weave it into a no-show repair.
Now that it's washed and repaired, you can paint your project. Cheap paint doesn't cover well, and you'll need several coats. Instead, invest in a couple of cans of good quality paint - it'll cover in one light coat, and won't fill in the wonderful details which make wicker so interesting.
Take a tip from the professionals - they buy automobile spray paint for their wicker. Auto paint can take a lot of weather abuse, and is good quality paint. There are lots of color choices too - who said wicker has to be white???
Paint in an even, fine mist rather than heavy coats. It'll dry quicker and leave all those lovely wicker details visible.
During the rest of the summer, just dust your wicker with a soft cloth or with your vacuum and it's brush attachment.
Vintage wicker is wonderful for casual summer living, and it's easy to care for. Antique wicker was made to last, and taking care of it will bring many years of use.