How to Paint a Cane Chair

Cane or wicker furniture is made from stiff, woven material such as willow, rattan, reed, or wire wrapped with paper. Wicker furniture can be used on patios and decks as well as inside. The paint on cane chairs that have been outside may begin to peel and flake off. You may refinish cane furniture by removing the old finish and painting it with an oil base or latex paint.


  1. 1
    Set up your work area. When you paint a wicker chair, select an area that is well ventilated to protect you from paint fumes and set the chair on a drop cloth to protect your floor from paint.
  2. 2
    Remove old, flakey paint. Before painting wicker chairs, you need to strip the old finish, otherwise the new paint won't stick.
    • Clean your cane chair with a mild detergent, water and a bristle brush.
    • Put on safety equipment, such as goggles, gloves and a face mask before you refinish cane furniture. Paint and stripper may contain chemicals that can cause skin rashes, and paint chips may get in your eyes or lungs, creating health problems.
    • Apply paint stripper to the cane chair with a brush if paint chips still remain after you have washed the chair. When you refinish cane furniture, be sure to follow the paint stripper manufacturer's instructions.
    • Let the stripper stay on the chair the correct amount of time so that it will liquefy the old paint. Remove the stripper with a wire brush.
  3. 3
    Let the chair dry for 24 to 48 hours, and then sand it with light-grit sandpaper, concentrating on smoothing the rough edges. When you refinish cane furniture, you need to coarsen up the cane so that the paint will stick.
  4. 4
    Vacuum the sanded wicker chair to remove dust.
  5. 5
    Apply primer.
    • Use a compressor sprayer, spray paint or a brush to paint on wood primer. When you paint a cane chair, the primer will ensure that the new paint adheres, and if you selected a much darker or lighter color, the primer will help with the hue transition.
    • Let the chair dry for 8 hours.
    • Turn the chair over and apply another coat of primer to the chair. When painting wicker chairs, you want to make sure to paint all the weaves. Upending the chair and adding an additional coat ensures you cover the entire surface.
  6. 6
    Dry the chair for 24 hours. When you paint a cane chair, you want the final coat of primer to completely dry before adding the final coats of paint.
  7. 7
    Paint on the finish.
    • Use oil-base indoor/outdoor or latex paint on your wicker chair. Oil base paint sticks to cane, lasts a long time, provides good coverage, and flexes with the chair. Latex paint is made with water and plastic resins, and is easier to work with because it dries faster than oil base paint and you can clean brushes with water instead of paint thinner.
    • Follow the procedure for applying primer, and apply 2 coats of your finish paint.
  8. 8
    Let the chair dry for 7 days before you sit in it. You want your cane chair to absorb all the paint and completely dry before you use it.


  • If you are painting wicker chairs outside, do not paint on a windy day. The wind may blow dust and debris on your project, which will stick to the paint.
  • Use good quality paint when you refinish wicker furniture. It may cost more than a lower grade of paint, but will last longer.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Bristle brush
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Paint stripper
  • Paint brushes
  • Light-grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Wood primer
  • Compressor sprayer or spray can
  • Oil-based or latex indoor/outdoor paint

Article Info

Categories: Painting and Other Finishes