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How to Paint Rattan to Look Natural

Melissa Busse

Many people who own painted rattan furniture, may wonder how to bring their much-loved pieces back to their original state. Because rattan furniture tends to soak paint deeply into its pores, it is very difficult to remove the paint completely. Rather than settling for painting the furniture in one flat color, you can create the illusion of a natural appearance, by strategically painting with two natural shades. You may find that this fresh coat of paint has breathed new life into your rattan furniture.

Removing Old Paint

Paint your rattan items to give them a natural appearance.
  1. Slip on your protective dust mask and safety goggles before removing the paint.

  2. Brush all areas of your rattan furniture with your stiff fingernail brush or vegetable brush, concentrating on the small spaces between the rattan strips. Use your toothbrush for areas that are too small for the fingernail brush.

  3. Cut across the bristles of your old paintbrush, at about half their length. Use to brush across the spaces between the rattan strips.

  4. Sand the entire surface of your rattan furniture with your medium-grit sandpaper. Follow the grain of the rattan.


  1. Add a small amount of liquid dish soap to your bucket and fill the bucket with warm water.

  2. Tilt your rattan furniture by propping up one end, a sturdy object. This will ensure your furniture can drain the water, while it's being washed.

  3. Dip your paintbrush tool into the bucket. Starting at the top, begin spreading the soapy water onto the furniture, following the direction of the rattan strips. Be sure to use only a minimal amount of soapy water, since rattan is a very porous material.

  4. Spray the furniture with a garden hose to remove all soap residue. Dry the furniture with an old towel. Allow the furniture to dry 48 hours before priming.


  1. Turn your rattan furniture upside-down. Spray the underside of the furniture with a coat of spray primer, following the directions on the can. Remember to wear your dust mask and safety goggles.

  2. Turn your furniture right-side-up, and spray. Allow the furniture to dry completely before continuing.

  3. Apply a second coat of primer. Allow this second coat to dry completely.


  1. Follow steps one and two of "Priming" to create two layers of tan base coat on your furniture. Make sure the paint has completely dried before continuing.

  2. Turn your furniture upside-down. Spray a small section of your furniture with your dark brown paint. Immediately, wipe the painted area with an old towel. You will notice that the towel removes the dark brown paint from the surface -- while allowing the paint to stay in recessed areas -- such as in-between the rattan strips.

  3. Repeat to complete the entire underside of the furniture. Then, turn your furniture over, and use this technique to finish the top. The grains of the rattan will be highlighted, giving the furniture a natural, unpainted appearance.