If you have to repair wicker furniture where the wicker reed is missing or damaged and you are looking for someone to do it for you, your probably in for a rude awakening. Finding someone that is knowledgeable and willing to help you will be difficult to find to say the least and the cost will most likely be prohibitive if you have significant damage. In some cases, you may find that the repair may cost more than the value of the furniture. In which case you need to think about repairing it your self. If the furniture piece is from a matching set or just one you really like, you will most likely want to pursue fixing it rather than replacing it. A reasonable solution in such a case is to do it your self and save your damaged piece from the scrap pile. It’s a bit tedious but worth while and definitely doable.
The accompanying images of this article show repairs of a wicker love seat that was damaged by a dog that chewed the reed. The color and size of reed match was not possible. So, we used the closest matching reed we could find. The customer was very satisfied because we were able to save her furniture which was part of a matching set that was no longer available.
Tools You Might Need
- Conventional Pliers
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- Wire the consistency of a Paper Clip
Replacing Missing or Damaged Wicker Furniture Reed
Repairing wicker furniture sounds hard and in some cases it can be. However, this lesson concentrates on replacing missing or damaged reed that is woven in one direction and not intended for highly complicated woven sections. Small repairs are very easy and doing it yourself can be a very rewarding experience. Once you get the feel for it, it’s not bad at all and it does however, take a little patience.
10-Steps to Replace Missing or Damaged Reed
1. Identify Damaged Reed
The first thing you need to do is assess the damage you want to repair and determine if simply re-weaving will do a satisfactory job. If the damaged wicker reed is easy to view, determine how extensive the damaged or missing reed is. You want to have a good handle on what repairs you need to make.
2. Identify Reed Material: Shape, Size & Color (Resin or Natural Reed)
To prepare for replacement you need to identify what type of material you need along with the diameter and color of the reed. Wicker can be manufactured using natural or synthetic resin materials. Whether you use natural or resin reed, the style and size of the reed can vary and so can the colors.
3. Take a Sample of Reed if Possible
In order to acquire the correct replacement reed, you might need to take a sample from the damaged reed or from a piece of reed that has excess sticking out from a concealed place under the furniture. If you can acquire a sample you can show the vendor, you have a better chance of getting the right replacement or one close enough you can live with from them.
4. Determine Quantity of Reed Needed
You will have to estimate the amount (length) of each piece of reed you will need to do the repairs. Make sure you estimate and then add a little more. When you place your order remember, having left over is a good thing. When you order, consider having some spare reed on hand for the future. It’s a cheap insurance policy if you have to make repairs again.
5. Contact Wicker Dealer and Acquire New Reed
The first place to go to get replacement reed is from the place you purchased the furniture in an attempts to acquire the same reed. If that does not work, you will need to talk to a wicker dealer that can obtain repair supplies. Natural wicker reed is rather easy to acquire whereas resin reed is more difficult because there are so many different vendors with many different types, sizes and colors. Not all reed will be able to be replaced with an exact match and you might have to settle with an off color or off size. Our experience is that the war wounds add a little character to your furniture.
6. Observe and Take Note of the Weave Pattern
Before you begin, you will need to study the weave pattern. Once you remove the damaged reed, you may not recognize the pattern that you need to copy when you wave the new reed back in. So look at it closely and understand how you must weave the new reed back in. It’s helpful to look on the opposite side of the furniture (Example: Left arm v.s. right arm.) and see what it looks like in an area that is not damaged or missing reed. Taking a clear picture might help as well.
7. Remove Damaged Reed
Cut and remove the damaged reed with a pair of wire cutters or similar tool. Back out the end of the remaining reed so that the end is aiming down away from the surface. Leave at least 1-2 inches of the original reed tucked down under the surface. To keep a piece of reed in place properly, the more you weave it in the better it holds. So, if you can, try to remove enough original reed so that you can weave back in a pice over and under the cross members at least four to seven times, more if you like. In small areas you may have no other choice but to use a short weave over and under 2-3 cross members. In those cases, you might have to live with it being a little loose when you weave the new piece in. But its perfectly acceptable as long as the woven piece does not fall out.
8. Make a Wire Tool to Assist in Pulling the Reed Back Up
When you prepare to weave the new reed in place, you will need a tool to assist you in performing the weave. The reed will be woven over and under the cross member. You will not be able to pull the reed back up to the surface without a wire tool to hook and pull up the reed. Form a wire tool from a paperclip or similar sized wire so that when you feed the end of the cane down over a cross member, you can grab it with the wire and pull up up again from under the adjacent cross member. You need to bend one end of the wire to form a hook sufficient to grab the reed and pull it back up to the surface. You might have to experiment a bit to get it to work the way you want it to. Keep the hook slender because it needs to pull the cane up and between the laterals. Bend the opposite end so that your it gives your finger something to pull up on the tool when your pulling the reed up.
9. Cut and Weave New Reed Into Place (Tuck In Ends Where Necessary)
New reed is usually available in lengths of more than 36 inches. This will usually be longer than what you need to repair any one reed piece. If you can, use the whole length when weaving then cut the excess off when your almost done so as not to waste what you purchased. If waste is not an issue or the length is too bothersome, it might be easier to cut lengths that are easier to work Just don’t cut them short or you will be wasting reed. Use the wire tool you made to help you weave the reed in place. The tool has a hook on the end that help you grab the end of the reed that is down below the surface so that you can pull it back up above the surface to complete the pattern.
Note: Natural wicker reed will need to be soaked in water for at least 15 minutes to make it flexible enough to bend prior to weaving.
10. Stain and Seal Natural Wicker
If you are repairing a natural wicker product, you will need to stain or paint it to match your finish. If you are staining and not painting, you should seal the stained reed with a clear acrylic paint after its stained and dry. You won’t need to paint or seal if your wicker is natural and untreated. Go to your hardware store and buy the smallest amount of stain you can find. Follow the manufacturers instructions for staining. Buy a can of acrylic spray clear coat and paint the affected area to seal it. You can use the can to reseal the entire piece if you like.
If you need to paint the repair, you can do just the area that has been repaired or do the whole thing to make the finish even. You can refer to our Painting Wicker Furniture or Tips for Painting Wicker Furniture articles for guidance.
Its important to remember two things:
- You will need more length than the linear distance between start and finish of your weave because the weaving action takes up more reed than you might otherwise expect.
- Leave at least an additional 2 inches excess at the end of each side of the new reed so that it can’t pull out the you put the finished ends tucked under the surface where they can’t be seen.
After you have replaced each piece of damaged or missing reed, the weave should be tight, not too loose. Sometimes its indvitable to have a loose weave in a repair, but it much better to be loose than broken or missing. In most cases you will have repaired your wicker furniture with great success and you will feel pretty good that you learned how to repair it yourself and be surprised how good it looks. Recognize that the new piece of reed will generally withstand the same wear that the original did.