How to Weatherproof Your Wicker Patio Furniture

Two large wicker chairs with several cushions on a deck.
What You'll Need
Soapy water
Vacuum cleaner
Adequate ventilation

While wicker patio furniture is light, colorful, and allows air circulation, it is not naturally weatherproof. Rain, smoke, sand, and dust can wear down its woven structure in just a few years without protection, making it shabby and unsafe to use. Here are some suggestions about effective weatherproofing methods for wicker patio furniture.

Clean Wicker Furniture Regularly

A red vacuum with a hose

Use a portable vacuum or your large vacuum cleaner with the round bristle brush head attached to vacuum your wicker furniture. This will remove dust and food particles that can grind away at the wicker fibers, weakening them. At the end of summer, clean your wicker thoroughly with a solution of warm water and oil soap used to clean wood furniture and floors. Let it dry well before putting furniture away for the season.

Paint and/or Varnish Your Wicker Furniture

Use paints formulated for use on wicker furniture, and paint your pieces completely from top to bottom, and on the underside of arms and seats, at least every three years. Apply two coats of marine varnish on top of the paint to provide waterproofing. Marine varnish will stand up to all but a continuous drenching from heavy rain. You can apply three coats of marine varnish directly to unfinished rattan, bamboo, or other natural wicker furniture to preserve its natural color if you would rather not paint. Reapply the varnish every two years to keep your furniture protected.

Waterproof lacquer works well on furniture made from many kinds of natural materials but is not recommended for wicker. You may end up sealing in moisture that will rot the wicker reeds slowly from the inside.

Oil Your Wicker Furniture

Tung oil is recommended for making wicker patio furniture water-resistant. Like the other finishes, tung oil will not safeguard your items against repeated downpours or soaking with a power washer, but it will keep out dampness that can soften and stretch the fibers past the point of safety. Apply tung oil with a soft cloth all over the furniture when you first put it outside and again at the end of the season.

Cover Your Wicker Furniture

Materials for a cover

Purchase or have a custom-made chair, sofa, and table covers made. The covers should reach the bottoms of the furniture legs to prevent water from splashing. Add a retractable awning to your patio if you leave furniture outside all season, and extend it on rainy days to reduce the moisture the wicker is exposed to.

Move Them Out of the Wind

Place your wicker furniture in a sheltered spot in your yard, out of prevailing winds. This will prevent windblown dust and grit from abrading the fibers.

Store Your Wicker Furniture Indoors in Winter

In cold weather, it’s ideal to move your wicker furniture into indoor storage. Even pieces well-coated with marine varnish cannot withstand the ravages of frost, snow, and ice. If you are not planning to use it indoors, store wicker furniture covered to keep it clean until next spring.

Keeping your wicker patio furniture clean, covering it in wet or windy weather, providing a surface protectant, and storing it indoors in winter are the best ways to weatherproof your furniture and extend its life in your outdoor landscape.