How to Paint Wicker, Cane, Rattan, and Bamboo Furniture Like a Pro

Bob Thomas


Breathing new life into your old wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture can be a fun and rewarding project.

With the right approach and tools, you can achieve professional-looking results that will make your furniture look like new.

In this article, we'll guide you through the process step by step, sharing our expertise as a qualified painter and decorator, along with some helpful pro tips.

Quick Summary

To paint wicker, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture, follow these steps: 1) Clean the furniture, 2) Sand the surface, 3) Apply primer, 4) Paint using a suitable technique, and 5) Seal with a protective topcoat. By using the right tools, materials, and techniques, you can transform your furniture and give it a fresh, new look.

Clean the Furniture

Begin by removing any dust, dirt, or debris from the furniture.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft-bristled brush to get into the crevices of the wicker or cane.

Then, wipe the furniture down with a damp cloth and mild detergent, rinsing with clean water afterward.

Allow the furniture to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Sand the Surface

Lightly sand the surface of the furniture using a fine-grit sandpaper (around 220-grit) to create a smooth and even surface for the paint to adhere to.

Be sure to sand in the direction of the weave or grain to avoid damaging the furniture.

Wipe away any sanding residue with a damp cloth and allow the furniture to dry completely.

Pro Tip: Use a sanding block or a flexible sanding sponge to reach tight corners and crevices more easily.

Apply Primer

Choose a primer that is suitable for your furniture material and paint type.

Apply the primer using a small brush, foam roller, or a paint sprayer, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the wicker or cane.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Paint the Furniture

Select a paint that is specifically designed for wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture.

This could be a water-based or oil-based paint, depending on your preference.

Apply the paint using a small brush, foam roller, or paint sprayer, ensuring even coverage. 

It's best to apply several thin coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

This will help to achieve a smooth, professional finish.

Important: When using a paint sprayer, work in a well-ventilated area and use a respirator mask to protect yourself from paint fumes.

Seal with a Protective Topcoat

Once the final coat of paint has dried, apply a clear protective topcoat to seal the paint and protect your furniture from wear and tear.

This could be a water-based or oil-based polyurethane or a clear acrylic sealer.

Apply the topcoat using a small brush or foam roller, following the manufacturer's instructions for drying times.

Fruqenelty Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. How can I tell if my furniture is wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo?

  A: Wicker is a weaving technique and not a material itself, so wicker furniture can be made from various materials, including rattan, cane, and synthetic fibers.

Rattan is a vine-like plant used to create wicker furniture, and cane is the outer skin of the rattan plant, often used for more lightweight furniture.

Bamboo furniture is made from hollow bamboo stalks, which are stronger and more rigid than rattan or cane.

Q. Can I use spray paint on wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture?

  A: Yes, you can use spray paint on these types of furniture, provided it is specifically formulated for the material you are painting.

Spray paint can provide even coverage and get into the nooks and crannies of the furniture, but it's important to apply thin coats and work in a well-ventilated area.

Q. How long should I wait between coats of paint?

  A: The drying time between coats will depend on the type of paint you are using and the environmental conditions.

Generally, it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the paint can, but a good rule of thumb is to wait at least 2-4 hours between coats.

Q. Can I paint my outdoor wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture?

  A: Yes, you can paint outdoor furniture made from these materials, but it's essential to use paint and topcoat specifically designed for outdoor use.

This will ensure the paint is more durable and able to withstand exposure to the elements.

Q. Can I use a different type of paint, like chalk paint or latex paint, on wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture?

  A: While it's best to use paint specifically designed for these materials, you can use other types of paint if you properly prepare the surface and use a suitable primer.

Chalk paint, for example, can be used on wicker and rattan furniture, but you will need to seal it with a wax or clear topcoat for added durability.

Q. How do I repair damaged wicker, cane, rattan, or bamboo furniture before painting?

  A: If your furniture has minor damages, like loose strands or small cracks, you can use wood glue to repair the damaged area.

For more significant damages, it may be necessary to replace the broken piece with a new one, or consult a professional for repair.

Always make sure to allow any repairs to dry completely before moving on to the painting process.


With a little time, effort, and the right techniques, you can successfully paint your wicker, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture, giving it a fresh, updated look.

By following these steps and tips, you'll be able to achieve professional results and enjoy your transformed furniture for years to come.

Suggested Products

  1. All-purpose cleaner: A gentle all-purpose cleaner can help remove dirt, grime, and any residues from the furniture's surface before painting, ensuring proper paint adhesion and a smooth finish.
  2. Fine-grit sandpaper: Using fine-grit sandpaper (180 to 220-grit) can help you lightly scuff the surface of the furniture, creating a better surface for paint adhesion without damaging the delicate fibers.
  3. Tack cloth: A tack cloth is essential for wiping down the furniture after sanding and before applying primer or paint, ensuring that all dust and debris are removed for a clean, smooth painting surface.
  4. Oil-based primer: An oil-based primer is a suitable choice for sealing and preparing wicker, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture for painting, as it penetrates the fibers and provides a strong base for the paint to adhere to.
  5. Acrylic latex paint: Acrylic latex paint is an excellent option for painting wicker, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture, as it is durable, flexible, and has low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), making it safer for indoor use.
  6. Clear topcoat: Applying a clear topcoat, such as a water-based polyurethane or polycrylic, will provide an extra layer of protection to your painted furniture, making it more resistant to scratches, wear, and exposure to the elements (for outdoor furniture).
  7. Paintbrushes: High-quality, soft-bristle paintbrushes in various sizes will help you apply primer, paint, and topcoat evenly and smoothly on the intricate woven patterns of wicker, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture.
  8. Drop cloth: A drop cloth is essential to protect your workspace from paint drips, spills, and debris while painting your furniture, ensuring a clean and mess-free project.

Remember to choose products specifically designed for the material you are working with and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best results.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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