Check out this quick tutorial on how to refinish rattan furniture! It’s easier than you think to bring rattan furniture and cane furniture back to life!
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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.
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!
** This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I also earn from qualifying purchases through other companies, or may receive free products. This does not cost you anything extra! All opinions are my own.
What you’ll need:
- 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
How to Refinish Rattan Furniture
- Scrub clean
- Tape off (if needed)
- Spray paint
- Seal (optional)
NOTE: If your rattan furniture needs repair, check out this post on how to repair rattan furniture before you refinish it!
Step One: Scrub 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.
Wipe it down with the rag and allow to dry before moving to step two.
Step two: 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 off wasn’t necessary. After spray painting the rattan, I simply sanded and painted over the spray paint on the rest of the table.
Step Three: Prime Time
In a well-ventilated space, over drop cloth or cardboard, it’s time to get spraying!
First, using the priming spray paint, apply 1 coat allowing to dry per instructions on the can.
(Keep in mind paint will dry slower in cooler temperatures or humid conditions.)
Step Four: Spray paint
Next, take your fossil color. Apply 2 full coverage coats allowing to dry in between.
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.
Step Five: Top Coat (optional)
This particular table came with a glass top that fit over the rattan, so I did not topcoat.
However, if your piece will be in a heavier traffic area, I would recommend addition of a topcoat.
Whatever your favorite brand, I would make sure it is matte!
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.
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.
(I have never used the spray can versions of these so I cannot endorse them, but examples include Rust-oleum chalked matte clear coat, Polycrylic spray matte, or Varathane spray poly matte.)
Step Six: Enjoy!
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!
How I Completed This Black 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 paper.
I paid extra attention to the rectangles on the side of the legs with plans to keep them natural.
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.
To keep it budget friendly, I mixed up my favorite DIY chalk paint recipe using an $8 Sherwin Williams Color-To-Go sample quart in the color Caviar.
**Note: Learn how to make homemade chalk paint here!
Finally, I sealed with my go-to Treswax…. Voila! A literal soon-to-be-garbage-warehouse find turned Serena & Lily magazine cover!
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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!!