How to Protect Wicker Furniture With Polyurethane

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Protect your wicker furniture from the elements with clear polyurethane.
Protect your wicker furniture from the elements with clear polyurethane. (Image: Wicker Chair on Beach image by ike from Fotolia.com)

Unprotected wicker furniture warps and cracks over time when it is exposed to the weather. While it is possible to repair the damage caused by exposure to weather, it is easier to completely prevent it. Wicker is often painted, and that provides a measure of protection and serves as decoration. If you prefer natural-looking wicker to painted wicker you need to apply a coat of waterproof polyurethane, which will protect your outdoor furniture as effectively as paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • 1 tsp. dish soap
  • 1/4 cup bleach
  • Warm water
  • Scrub brush
  • 2 soft cloths
  • Fine or medium-grit sandpaper (optional)
  • Waterproof polyurethane
  • Stir stick
  • Paintbrush

Vacuum the wicker thoroughly to remove any dirt between the woven wicker strands.

Put on the rubber gloves and pour 1 tsp. dish soap, 1/4 cup bleach and warm water into a bucket. Fill the bucket until it is almost full.

Scrub the wicker gently with a scrub brush and soapy water. Rinse the furniture until the water runs clear. Wipe the wicker with a soft cloth, then allow it to air-dry.

If the wicker has deep pits, or if the old finish is peeling, gently sand the surface until it is smooth. Wipe the dusty residue off with a soft damp cloth and let it dry completely, or vacuum the surface of the wicker again.

Open the can of polyurethane and stir to make sure it is completely blended.

Dip a paintbrush into the polyurethane and apply a generous coat to the wicker. Make sure to get the polyurethane deep into the ridges between the wicker cane strands. Let the polyurethane dry completely and then add a second coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Expect this project to take more than one day because the deep ridges of the wicker tend to dry slowly.

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