Update the look of your wicker furniture.

How to Distress Wicker

by Heather Montgomery

Do not throw that old wicker furniture out just yet. While the white or dark-stained wicker might not fit in with your current decor, with a little bit of paint and some steel wool, your wicker will turn into a country chic or shabby chic masterpiece. Wicker furniture is made of a weave of plant fibers, making it the ideal furniture for both inside and out; its durable weave also stands up to abuse from weather and children. Although you'd typically use sandpaper to distress other furniture pieces, the rough grit might damage the fibers of wicker, making steel wool the ideal tool for rubbing off paint.

Clean the wicker chair with a stiff bristle brush and water to dislodge dirt and debris stuck in the wicker weave. Let the furniture dry, then vacuum with a brush attachment.

Lay down drop cloths in a well-ventilated area and move the wicker furniture onto the drop cloth.

Turn the wicker upside down and spray a coat of primer onto the chair using short, even strokes, holding the can six to eight inches from the wicker, then turn the wicker over and spray the top. Let the first coat of primer dry and apply a second coat; let dry.

Rub candle wax over the areas of the chair you want to distress. Choose areas that receive a lot of wear, such as the chair seats and legs, and the edges and top of tables.

Spray a coat of spray paint in the topcoat color of your choice, doing the underside first and then the top side. Choose a color that is complementary to the decor in the room your furniture will sit in; let the paint dry and apply a second coat if desired.

Rub steel wool over the areas where you put candle wax to remove the top layer of paint. Continue removing areas of paint until you reach the level of distressing you desire. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth.

Shake the antique glaze well and use a rag or stiff bristle paintbrush to apply the glaze to the furniture. Let the glaze sit for 10 minutes before rubbing off excess glaze with a clean rag.

Spray a coat of polyurethane onto the furniture when the glaze is dry. Let the first polyurethane coat dry, and then apply a second coat. Let the furniture cure according to manufacturer directions before moving the furniture back into your home.

Items you will need

  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Drop cloth
  • Spray primer
  • Candle wax
  • Spray paint made for outdoor use
  • #0000 steel wool
  • Tack cloth
  • Antique glaze
  • Rag
  • Stiff-bristle paintbrush
  • Spray non-yellowing polyurethane


  • If your wicker has cushions, consider recovering the cushions with a complementary fabric.
  • You can also distress using a stain or pickling solution.


  • Keep children away from spray paint and polyurethane fumes and wear protective clothing including gloves, mask and goggles while working with spray paint.

About the Author

Based in Lakeland, FL., Heather Montgomery has been writing a popular celebrity parenting blog and several parenting and relationship articles since 2011. Her work also appears on eHow and Everyday Family and she focuses her writing on topics about parenting, crafts, education and family relationships. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in early education from Fort Hays State University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images