How To Remove Paint From Wicker Furniture (Beginners Guide)

Wicker outdoor furniture is making a comeback, and now is the time to get on board.

While this term actually refers to the weave of certain natural materials like cane, it is often used interchangeably with rattan on many home decor sites.

We found the best ways to remove paint or shellac from your old rattan chair - check out our tips below.

Here is a step-by-step guide to remove paint from antique wicker.

products made from wicker

Materials Needed

  • Your chosen furniture or wicker items
  • Paint stripper/ stripping paint/ varnish remover/ household ammonia
  • Soft bristled brush or stiff brush
  • Safety goggles, gloves, and painting overalls
  • Tarp or newspapers
  • Toothbrush
  • Mineral spirits
  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • Soap
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment
  • Compressed air
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • Plastic container
  • Wet rag

Step By Step Instructions

  • 1
    To start the removing paint jobs, lay down your tarp and newspaper in a well-ventilated area with plenty of space. Make sure to cover any items you don't want to be damaged or covered in dust.
  • 2
    Put on your safety gear over painting clothes.
  • 3
    Gather the materials listed above and lay them within easy reach nearby.
  • 4
    Place your wicker item over the tarp, leaving enough room to move around the items.
  • 5
    Remove any accessories like cushions or covers and place them to one side away from the workspace.
  • 6
    Place the soft brush attachment onto your vacuum and clean the entire piece, removing paint as much flaking paint as you can.
  • 7
    Use a cleaning toothbrush or a can of compressed air to clean the nooks and crannies of the weave. This may take a while, but we recommend being as thorough as possible.
  • 8
    Taking the paintbrush, scrub it gently yet firmly over the entire piece to remove any flaking or peeling paint.
  • 9
    If the above flakes of old paint are not coming off, try using the sandpaper instead.
  • 10
    Once all the paint flakes are off, vacuum the wicker piece again to remove the flakes.
  • 11
    Apply household ammonia, paint stripper, varnish remover, denatured alcohol, varnish, or other paint removal product over the surface according to manual instructions. We recommend starting with a small section and using a soft paintbrush or cloth.
  • 12
    Repeat step 11 with a toothbrush and the same paint remover to get into the painted crannies that are difficult to reach.
  • 13
    Once you have covered the remaining paint, you may need to leave it to sit for a little bit, depending on the product's instructions.
  • 14
    Wash the chair with hot soapy water and leave it to completely dry for 48 hours.
  • 15
    You may need to repeat steps 11-14 if there are stubborn spots.
  • 16
    Add a thin coat of paint or top coat to your wicker piece if necessary, according to manual instructions.

Special Considerations For Different Types Of Wicker


Both cane and rattan are derived from the rattan palm in South-East Asia. When the plant is processed, each one is separated into the core reed and thin interior; cane is the thin interior of the palm and is often left unpainted.

When stripping an item made of cane, you may need to dilute the stripper in a 50/50 mineral spirit mixture and a soft cloth.


Rattan is another popular natural material that forms the reed. It is more porous than cane and is often painted when used in woven items.


While it may seem surprising that bamboo is used in wicker furniture, it is a highly popular material. It is different from others on this list as it is a robust material that does not bend easily.

Many bamboo cane furniture is left natural, while some wicker pieces have a coat of spray paint or topcoat.


Seagrass is softer than rattan and bamboo and has a more delicate fiber structure. Surprisingly, seagrass furniture is not waterproof or weather resistant as it tends to warp easier than most.

If you must wash a seagrass item, use as little water as possible and ensure it dries completely before continuing.

baskets made from wicker

What Is Wicker Anyways?

Wicker is a weaving technique that forms woven patterns across various indoor and outdoor items [1]. For the most part, weaving can be seen in baskets, furniture, lamps, headboards, and other home pieces.

One of these pieces could be with a combination of cane, rattan, bamboo, seagrass, wood, or other flexible natural fibers; it is also possible to find plastic wicker furniture.

Depending on the material, these beautiful pieces could breathe new life into your indoor or outdoor decor.

Important Tips To Avoid Damaging Wicker

Quality wicker furniture can last for several years if cared for correctly [2]. It is possible to paint wicker furniture to help extend its life or keep a more natural look.

It is essential to clean your pieces regularly, cover them in the off-season, and turn outdoor items regularly to avoid uneven sun bleaching.

When considering how to remove paint from wicker baskets or other furniture, it is vital to know what materials you are working with and their properties; this helps you know how rough you can be.

When you dip your brush in to strip the old paint, it is vital to wipe or scrub the surface gently in small circles to avoid damaging the fibers.

Wicker tends to become really supple when paint remover is applied, making it much easier to damage. Sandpaper must be used with care for paint remover, and it is best to avoid using a stiff wire brush and rough cloth.

It is important to note that you may not be able to remove all the paint from the surface; you may need to stain or varnish the item to cover those patches.

What Paint Works Best on Rattan Furniture? Water based paint is your best bet for preventing fading and stubborn stains on your rattan furniture. In addition to being less prone to damage the rattan  furniture, water-based paint also requires less effort to clean up after.

Many people who own painted rattan furniture, may wonder how to bring their much-loved furniture piece back to their original state with painting process. Because rattan furniture tends to soak paint deeply into its pores, it is very difficult to remove the paint completely from rattan furniture.

coffee table made from wicker

Removing Paint From Wicker Furniture FAQs

Can you use bleach on wicker?

No, avoid bleach on wicker. Try exposing it to sunlight and rotating it instead.

Can you paint white wicker to look natural?

Yes, painting wicker white will make it look natural. Use colored varnish or stain for a warmer tone.

How do I stop my painted wicker furniture from peeling?

Use clear topcoat and follow care instructions to prevent deterioration of painted wicker furniture.

Can I strip paint off wicker with caustic soda?

It is not recommended to use caustic soda to strip paint from wicker. Lye can damage wicker fibers. Use caution if you must use it.


As you can see, there are many options to help you remove paint from rattan, including lacquer thinner and other paint removal products.

By following our simple and efficient method, it is possible to achieve results fast and enjoy your favorite pieces for years to come - regardless of current trends.