It’s easier than you think to bring rattan furniture and cane furniture back to life! Check out this quick tutorial on how to refinish rattan furniture!
Get more painted nightstand ideas here!
Refinishing rattan furniture is a great way to give your furniture an updated and stylish look.
In this post, we’ll provide easy step-by-step instructions for how to paint rattan to look natural, for any type of rattan furniture.
I’m not joking when I say I dug this unassuming table out from underneath a pile of junk in a warehouse and paid only $10 for it.
The rattan wasn’t damaged, but certainly had seen better days. I’ll be honest, I’m typically not a huge fan of painted rattan and really wanted to keep it natural, but how?
I figured chemical strippers were way too harsh for fragile, aging rattan. Learn more about how to remove wood stain here.
So I wasn’t going to risk attempting to strip it. I tried giving it a gentle sand, but didn’t get far before small pieces began flaking off.
So what’s the secret to bringing rattan back to its natural beauty? I almost guarantee it’s way easier than you think!
And would you believe it if I told you this Serena & Lily-Esque table makeover cost me about $30 total? After reading these easy steps, you’ll never be intimidated by rattan pieces in need of love!
Supplies Used for Refinishing Rattan Furniture
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- Cleaner (I used Krud Kutter. Dawn dish soap would also work)
- Old Toothbrush
- Painters Tape (optional)
- Priming Spray Paint
- Rust-Oleum Fossil
- Rust-Oleum Khaki
- Drop Cloth or Large Piece of Cardboard
Get my list of 10 must have painting furniture supplies here.
NOTE: If your rattan furniture needs repair, check out this post on how to repair rattan furniture before you refinish it!
Scrub Rattan Clean
Using your cleaner & toothbrush, give the rattan a good scrub.
This will act as both a cleaning step, and in a way, a light sanding step to remove any previous residue or flaking rattan. Here’s how to clean furniture before painting.
Wipe it down with the rag and allow it to dry before moving to step two. Learn exactly how to prepare furniture for paint here.
Tape Off if Needed
If needed, this is when you will tape off anywhere you don’t want the natural rattan color to go. For my table, I planned to paint the base black so taping it off wasn’t necessary.
After spray painting the rattan, I simply sanded and painted over the spray paint on the rest of the table. Get more information on how to protect your furniture from overspray here.
In a well-ventilated space, over drop cloth or cardboard, it’s time to get spraying!
(Keep in mind paint will dry slower in cooler temperatures or humid conditions.)
Spray Paint Rattan
You’ll notice it almost has a greenish hue and should appear quite matte. In my opinion, it isn’t the prettiest color in this step, but that’s what we want!
Once dry, get shaking on the khaki can.
Standing a little further away than the Rust-Oleum can recommends (approx 2 feet) and moving a little more quickly in the sweeping motion, apply a lighter coat over the fossil.
This will bring back some of the warmth that is naturally occurring in cane. You aren’t going for full coverage with this color, more of a dusting.
*** CAUTION: Try not to layer the khaki on too thick. This spray paint, unlike the fossil, has a much glossier finish. Ideally, you want to avoid a glossy look as this will make the rattan look less natural.
Check out this post to learn what spray paint is the best spray paint for furniture! (I was shocked by the results!!)
Top Coat Rattan (optional)
This particular table came with a glass top that fit over the rattan, so I did not topcoat it. However, if your piece will be in a heavier traffic area, I would recommend the addition of a topcoat.
Whatever your favorite brand, I would make sure it is matte! Check out this post to learn all about the many different topcoats for painting furniture.
Again, you want to avoid any glossy or satin finishes, which will take away from that natural, earthy rattan look.
Another caveat … it will need to be sprayed. Learn how to spray polyurethane topcoat here.
If you don’t own a paint sprayer (or don’t feel like getting it out, prepping and cleaning), then an easy alternative would be topcoat in a spray can.
The best spray can topcoat is Minwax’s waterbased polycrylic.
Now you have beautiful, natural-looking rattan! (It can be our secret that it’s actually painted).
I also used this spray paint layering approach on a previously painted rattan shelf and was equally happy each time. So I know it’s reproducible! Check out more spray painted furniture ideas here.
How I Completed This Rattan End Table
After the rattan was back to its most natural color I believe you can achieve with paint; I sanded down the body of the table using 120 grit sandpaper.
If you need a sander, here are the best sanders for furniture.
I paid extra attention to the rectangles on the side of the legs with plans to keep them natural.
Check out how to refinish wood furniture legs and learn other techniques to create a wooden finish for your furniture legs.
This piece was one of my earlier projects (while I was still on a very tight budget), so fancy, expensive furniture paint wasn’t really a feasible option.
Finally, I sealed with my go-to Trewax…. Voila! A literal soon-to-be-garbage warehouse find turned Serena & Lily magazine cover!
More Before And After Makeovers
Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.
- Using your cleaner & toothbrush, give the rattan a good clean scrub. Wipe it down with the rag and allow it to dry.
- Tape off (if needed) anywhere you don’t want the natural rattan color to go.
- In a well-ventilated space, over drop cloth or cardboard, apply 1 coat of priming spray paint, allowing to dry per instructions on the can.
- Next, take your fossil color of spray paint. Apply 2 full coverage coats allowing to dry in between.
- Seal your rattan furniture with a matte topcoat. (optional)
- Sand down the body of the furniture using 120 grit sandpaper then paint and seal it to complete your rattan furniture makeover.
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This makeover was created by Jess with Oak and Grain Restoration. She currently lives in North Carolina where she works full-time in an emergency room. She loves dipping into her creative side by transforming furniture and in the process, keeping her sanity.
Follow her on Instagram to see more action behind the scenes!!
More Rattan / Cane Furniture Makeovers
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