Recently a friend was restoring some old wicker furniture and had a problem where the spray paint they were using was not giving the finish they wanted. Using a glossy spray paint they found that many layers were required to get the gloss and then it would fade before drying completely. If they added enough paint to keep it glossy the paint would build up so thick that it remained sticky for many days.
This is a problem when you are painting any type of natural fiber or wood with a petroleum based paint but there are a few steps you can take to get a great finish with not so much work.
Preparing The Chair For Paint
Preparing the surface for paint is the most difficult part mainly because it takes time. The first thing that you want to do when you are painting wicker is make sure it is clean. Wicker because of the way it is weaved has a tendency to pickup a lot of dust and small material inside the weave of the fiber.
A good way to clean wicker furniture is with a pressure washer or hose with a spray head that will get deep into the weave of the wicker.
Use soapy water and if you are intending to place a clear coat on the furniture then you should bleach the fibers with a mild 10 water to 1 bleach solution to remove all mold and stains.
Once the fibers are clean you will need to allow it to dry completely. This may take a day or two in indirect sunlight. Allowing the furniture to dry in direct sunlight may cause warping if you soaked the fibers heavily so allow it to dry slow enough that no problems will occur.
Primer Before Paint
The main mistake that happened in the original paint job was that the fibers were soaking up the paint unevenly. This is very normal for any natural wood or fiber material.
If you are going to apply a clear polyurethane finish to the wicker you can use a liquid sanding sealer. This is like a primer for wood products that won’t introduce color. It is often used on wood furniture when you want to see the natural wood without a stain.
If you are painting a latex or enamel finish for your top coat you can use a primer sealer. Make sure you purchase primer that says Primer Sealer and not Primer Surfacer. Sealer does not require sanding and because you could never get into the nooks of a wicker chair to sand the finish you do not want to use a primer surfacer that could result in a textured or rough surface when you apply your top coat of paint.
Follow the directions on your paint can and then allow the chair to dry for 12 to 24 hours before painting your top color coat.
Painting Your Wicker Chair
Now that you have cleaned and primed your chair you are ready to paint.
Before you get started make sure you have blown away any dust that may have accumulated. A leaf blower will do well or compressed air but if you don’t have these tools you can use a dry lint free cloth.
Place the chair on some newspaper or plastic to protect the surrounding area and paint at least 20 feet from your house to make sure no paint ends up on your house or car.
Your first coat of paint is a tack coat meaning you want to spray enough paint to make the surface sticky to accept a full coat of paint on your second pass without spraying so much that the surface takes a long time to dry. Wait about 5 minutes before continuing.
After the paint has had time to partly flash or dry you want to apply your first full coat of paint. A full coat is when you apply enough paint that the surface is fully coated in one pass but there are no drips or runs. The surface may not hide the color of the wood or paint under it and it will require at least two full coats maybe three.
After your first full coat you want to allow the paint to dry for about 20 minutes or until it is dry to the touch. The best way to tell if paint on your furniture is dry is to spray paint on masking tape or your paper and check that paint not touching the surface of your chair.
Lean the chair back and inspect the undersides of the wicker fibers to make sure you are getting a good coat on all areas.
If you find you have under or none painted areas you can turn your chair upside down for the second coat of paint and then turn the chair back on its legs for a third and final coat.
Painting any natural fiber or wood material for outside use will eventually mean the paint cracks and chips off. The better you prepare the surface the better your resulting job will be but expect to redo your work every spring or every few years.
For best results you may want to look at how products are finished for inside or outside use in a retail store. If you find that one type of finish is primarily used over one you may want to change your choice of finish.
Glossy finishes will last longer then flat or semigloss because the paint surface is tougher to the elements.
Oil based stains should not be used on furniture unless you are adding a clear top finish or you will most likely get stains on your clothes.