Bob Vila Radio: Restoring Rattan

With care and attention—and in some cases, the help of a professional—you can bring back the beauty of rattan furniture. The next time you go flea market shopping, keep these hints in mind.

By Bob Vila | Updated Mar 16, 2015 9:08 AM

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Vintage rattan furniture is getting harder to come by, so if you happen to run across a nice piece at a garage sale, you might want to snap it up and take it home for restoration.

How to Clean Rattan


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Listen to BOB VILA ON RESTORING RATTAN or read the text below:

If the rattan has been neglected, mix some gentle cleaner in water, then apply the suds to the dingy spots using either a soft cloth or a toothbrush. Avoid getting the rattan excessively wet, as that can damage the material as well as the cane wrapping that holds it together. Also avoid stripping the rattan, as you would do with wood; that, too, would likely cause damage. Instead, if some of the finish has been worn bare, you can work with an experienced restorer to create a custom stain that’ll return the piece to its original warm hue. Periodic application of lemon oil will also help protect the finish.

Once the restoration is done, position your vintage prize where it won’t get too much sun or moisture, as the elements can quickly undo even the finest restoration.

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