Wicker or woven furniture has been around for centuries. A natural and beautiful alternative to decorating the home has enjoyed popularity from ancient times until now. It was made popular in the United States around the middle of the eighteenth century and is still a popular form of furniture for indoor or outdoor use.
Wicker is the term used to describe a woven type of furniture of various materials including cane, bamboo, rattan, rush, and willow.
Many people have their wicker outside as patio furniture. This can cause problems like direct sunlight, rain and extreme temperature changes that can adversely affect the wicker. A little caution and regular cleaning can extend the life of your wicker furniture.
When cleaning your furniture, simple is usually your best recourse. Dust regularly and use a small brush if needed to get rid of accumulated dust within the weave. An occasional washing with mild soap and water is inevitable. Use as little water as possible on a sponge or soft rag when cleaning as too much water can damage your wicker with prolonged use. Let the wicker thoroughly dry before using it. One common mistake people make is cleaning wicker with too much water, soaking it and then using the piece before it’s completely dry. When this happens the weave can mash and stretch which will eventually lead to unwanted repairs.
Wicker like anything else will eventually need repairs. Investigating the extent of the damage can help you decide which route to take when deciding on repairs. You can do some yourself with a little homework. The extreme jobs would best be left to professional furniture restorers.
If the problem is just a few loose strands of fiber causing minimal roughness, very fine grit sandpaper rubbed lightly over the surface will usually do the trick. You may finish it with a lacquer or varnish. Polyurethane or any finish that cracks easily when bent or twisted is not usually a good choice for wicker furniture as it stretches and rebounds with each use.
If the damage extends beyond loose strands and rough edges more work will be involved. Cracks in wicker are common when it is an older piece or exposed to extreme periods of dryness for prolonged periods. If the damage is not excessive, you may want to give your wicker some moisture in the form of oils made for this purpose. Linseed oil is the most widely used oil for repairing and refurbishing wicker furniture.
Apply enough oil to completely cover the area, making sure it gets into the cracks and weave. Let the oil sit for a day or so to make sure it’s fully absorbed. When the addition of more oil does not cause absorption, you should wipe off any excess oil and wait for the chair to dry completely. A word of caution when working with linseed. The oil is a flammable substance so do be careful.
The weave of your wicker can sometimes shift and become matted if it’s an old piece that has been used a lot, or if it has become wet at some point and then used. Wet wicker will hold the shape it dries in. So your best bet is to wet the area needing repair and then adjusting the weave on strand or section at a time. You should then let it dry in its proper shape. Wicker has a wonderful resiliency, in that it comes back true to form and reshapes easily.
If a strand or section of your furniture needs replacing, make sure to have a sample weave or a clear idea of the exact weave on the area. This guide will be very helpful in determining if you’re getting the weave right. The key to a successful weave is making sure you do one small area or one strand of the weave at a time.
In the unfortunate event that you have a piece that needs extensive work, you may want to locate a local furniture repair shop. Asking at your local antique shop is also a good idea, as they often have connections with all types of refurbishing and repair shops.
Caring for your wicker furniture doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. If taken care of properly and kept clean you can expect your wicker to last a very long time.Caring for your wicker