How to Patch Wicker

Jan Czech

Wicker is a general term that covers furniture made from cane, grasses, reed, wire wrapped in paper and other pliable materials. Wicker furniture is versatile and comes in many styles, from traditional porch rockers that are at home in a country cottage, to clean lined couches that make a statement in a modern loft space. Wicker furniture is easy to care for. But sometimes, with even the most careful maintenance, it will need some restoration.

A wicker chair in need of patching.
  1. Assess the damage. Is the wicker weave broken, or worse, are there big holes in the weave? Or, perhaps it is only cracked. If the damage is not too extensive and your piece doesn't have an intricate design, you can probably fix it yourself. Photograph the piece of furniture you are going to patch. Take pictures of the wicker from all angles to help you replicate the weave as closely as possible when you fix the piece.

  2. Fix all cracks. If your piece is intact except for some cracking, it is not necessary to replace anything. Cracking happens when wicker becomes too dry, and to fix it, you need to restore moisture. Use tung oil or boiled linseed oil to hydrate the wicker. Apply one of these products with a brush, being sure to thoroughly cover the cracks. Let it dry until the oil has soaked into the wicker. Use a clean brush or cloth to remove any oil that stays on the surface, then let the piece of furniture dry for 24 hours before painting or applying a new finish .

  3. Repair the weave. If your piece has lengths of weave that have wandered from their appropriate spots, you can generally manipulate them back into place. This works best on a piece that is stripped of its finish or paint. Place wet cloths on the area you will be working with to dampen the wicker and make it pliable. This could take up to an hour. Once the wicker is bendable, carefully move it back to the right place. Keep the wicker damp while you are working because brittle wicker will break.

  4. Soak the reed. Before you can use new reed to replace broken wicker, soak it in water to make it pliable. Measure the length of the broken reeds in the wicker, adding two or three inches to the length.

  5. Mend a hole. Wet the broken reeds and remove them. Weave in the new strand of reed, adhering to the established pattern. Slip the extra two or three inches at the ends into the existing reed. Work with only one reed at a time and be careful not to disturb the surrounding weave. When you are finished, let the piece dry for 24 hours before using it.