How to Distress Wicker

Tom Ross

Wicker is generally woven from fibers of plant-based material such as cane, rattan and whole reeds or shoots of bamboo. It is formed into a rigid material that is sturdy and durable when used to make chairs or other furniture. Vintage wicker furniture is highly desirable in home decorating. Transforming new wicker furniture into furniture with a worn and heavily used appearance is a simple task requiring few tools and materials and only two to three hours of your time. The result is a vintage look around which you build your interior decorating theme.

Transform new or used wicker furniture into a piece with a vintage appearance.

Step 1

Place the wicker on plastic sheeting and use a stiff-bristled fiber brush to dislodge the dust and dirt in the nooks and crannies of the woven wicker.

Step 2

Vacuum the wicker with the attachments necessary to reach into the crevices where dirt collects.

Step 3

Wash the wicker with a toothbrush and a solution of 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Scrub the dirt and grime from the difficult areas to reach areas of the wicker.

Step 4

Brush the wicker lightly with a medium-bristled wire brush to remove peeling paint. Use the stiff-bristled fiber brush to remove loose paint from the wicker. Blow the wicker free of debris with compressed air or vacuum thoroughly.

Step 5

Abrade the wicker lightly with light-grit sandpaper, brush it clean and apply two coats of oil-based primer according to label directions.

Step 6

Paint the wicker with latex paint in a light, subdued color and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Step 7

Examine the wicker and decide where you will distress it the most to give it the antique look you desire. Choose areas that typically become worn when handled, such as the top of chair backings, the chair back and the areas that reach from the bottom of the chair legs to about halfway up.

Step 8

Sand the painted wicker lightly over the entire surface to give it a worn, used appearance. Rub the areas more thoroughly that you designated to highlight as heavily worn, especially the edges of the wicker.

Step 9

Brush the wicker clean of debris and paint it with a coat of quality varnish according to label directions.