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Wicker furniture is a mainstay in patios and outdoor living areas. Can wicker furniture get wet? If so, should homeowners be concerned?
More importantly, what happens if wicker furnishings get wet?
Learn all there is to know about wicker furniture and how the structure reacts when it comes into prolonged contact with water or high humidity.
Natural wicker furniture isn’t waterproof and can get wet. The keyword is “natural.” There is also synthetic wicker on the market that has greater waterproof abilities.
Wicker isn’t an actual material. Rather, it’s a specific weave pattern used in crafting furniture and other items.
The actual material is a type of plant fiber known as rattan. Some wicker furniture is made from genuine rattan, while others consist of synthetic rattan.
The synthetic variety may be made from several materials designed to emulate natural rattan. Common synthetic materials on the market include nylon, PVC, polyethylene, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
These materials may also be referred to as all-weather wicker.
Here is what you need to know:
Wicker furniture from real rattan is susceptible to water damage. Synthetic wicker furniture, by contrast, provides far better waterproof resistance.
If you have synthetic wicker furniture, it’s not a big deal if it gets wet during rainfall or high humid conditions. If you have real wicker furniture, then greater maintenance is required.
Synthetic rattan is made to mimic real rattan in appearance and texture. It may not be possible to tell the difference from a visual inspection alone or by feeling it.
An expert furniture maker will need to examine the furniture to identify the material.
If you bought the furniture at a furniture store within the last few years, then chances are that the item is synthetic.
The majority of wicker furniture on the market today are made from synthetic material due to their water-resistant properties.
A small splash of water on natural wicker furniture isn’t a big deal. The water will dry out and evaporate before it has time to cause damage.
However, if the furniture is exposed to water over a long period, this can weaken the resin. The long-term effect is a loss of structural support.
Due to the weave pattern of wicker, some areas are hard to wipe clean, and water can linger. This creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew growth.
Using furniture with mold is a health hazard and can lead to respiratory issues.
Since rattan is a natural material, it can decay when mold spreads on its surface. This leads to a foul and mildew-like odor.
This can make your furniture unappealing for use, especially when you have guests over.
If mold growth is bad enough, you can detect the smell just by simply being on your patio and not even sitting on the furniture.
Modern wicker finish comes in an assortment of paint colors and finishes. With excess water exposure, the surface may lose its finish over time.
This leads to an uneven appearance where some parts are more faded than others.
This makes the furniture look unkempt and uncared for; it can bring down the curb appeal of the immediate surroundings.
Can Wicker Furniture Get Wet Outdoors?
It’s fine to keep synthetic wicker furniture outdoors. With natural wicker furniture, you can keep them out in the patio most of the time.
However, be observant of the forecast. Move the furniture indoors if you anticipate rain or fog.
If you live in a high humid region, then consider keeping the furniture inside during summer.
Tip: For maximum protection, keep wicker furniture inside as indoor furniture.
Move them outside when you plan on spending extended time on your patio. Wicker furniture is lightweight and easy to transport.
If the wicker furniture has clear signs of mold encompassing most of the surface, then it’s best to dispose of it.
There are likely more mold spores in the interwoven areas you can’t see and reach. However, if you wish to salvage it, you may be able to restore it.
Follow this step-by-step process:
- Thoroughly wipe down the surface using a lightly moistened cloth.
- Carefully examine the furniture’s frame. Use epoxy formulated for wood to secure loose parts.
- Use a matching spray paint with primer to restore the original color.
- Wait for the paint to completely dry before applying a second coat.
Tip: If there are light signs of mold, apply bleach on the moistened cloth.
Spray painting over the mold will eliminate visible traces of the spores, but they will remain and continue to be a health hazard.
Some furniture contains mainly wicker weaving with metal or aluminum legs. Even if it’s all-weather wicker, the metal parts are susceptible to rust if they get wet.
For this reason, you should treat this type of furniture the way you would with natural wicker. That is, avoid water exposure by keeping them indoors when not in use.
Fortunately, mold does not grow on metal or aluminum, so this is one less facet to worry about.
Here are a few additional questions regarding wicker furniture and protection against water.
You can use burlap or plastic sheets to place over the furniture when not in use. This will protect it against drizzles and light rainfall.
However, do not cover the furniture all day long. The covering can trap moisture and heat, two elements that can lead to mold growth.
Tip: To prevent moisture trapping, never keep coverings over the furniture for more than 24 hours.
Occasionally cleaning wicker furniture may offset some of the water damage and mildew buildup.
You don’t need any fancy cleaners. A mixture of water and liquid soap in a spray bottle will suffice.
Don’t saturate the furniture with the spray. Just spray two to three times and wipe using a dry sponge or towel. Be sure you wipe the surface completely dry.
Tip: Don’t use a dish detergent with a degreaser. This may be too abrasive and can cause surface damage.
One way to protect natural wicker is by sealing it with a coat of marine varnish. For maximum protection, apply three coats every two years.
This provides a protective seal; however, you should still move the furniture inside if you anticipate heavy rainfall.
The seal may not be able to fully hold up against puddles and constant pelting from rain. Sealing real wicker does not give it the same waterproof resistance as synthetic wicker.
It may be difficult to determine what your antique wicker furniture is made of. If it’s really old, then it may be from a time before the advent of synthetic wicker.
Therefore, it’s made from real wicker and prone to water damage. You need to take preventive measures by keeping it indoors most of the time or applying sealant.
If the furniture gets lightly wet from a slight drizzle, then it’s acceptable to just let it dry naturally. However, if exposed to heavy rain or puddling, then you need to take proactive action.
The problem arises when there’s excess water exposure and insufficient time to dry.
Read Next: How to Negotiate Furniture Prices?
Can wicker patio furniture get wet? If it’s made from real rattan, then yes, and that can lead to damage. This doesn’t mean you can’t use genuine wicker outdoors.
You just have to take additional measures to preserve the material. If you do this, then even the more vulnerable natural rattan will last for many years to come.