Restore Chippy Wicker With Wax Paint and an Ordinary Toothbrush

6 Materials
1 Day

What in the world is wax paint? It's a 50/50 blend of chalk or acrylic paint with Waverly Liquid Clear Wax. We created wax paint to simulate wood grain (which worked great!) then we realized it would also work for restoring a wicker rocker to seal the chipping, flaking paint. See our COLOR CHART of Americana Decor chalk paints here.

Have you ever rescued a piece of wicker but haven't gotten around to the tedious work of restoring it? Our easy 'wax paint' will make refinishing shabby wicker much easier. We highly recommend applying it with an ordinary toothbrush, but any paint brush will work.

This pretty wicker rocker will have a home on our Civil War era porch some day after restoration. For now it has a home on a covered stone porch built in the 1960s on the back of the house.

Liquid wax mixed into paint creates a tough, satin finish that locks in chipping paint and adds a colorful, durable top coat. If you like this project, check out our archives for more creative projects here.

We mixed the wax into several colors to give this wicker rocker an amazing makeover with an abstract floral on the seat. This seat will be much easier to care for than a cushion.

Before! This rocker was just $5.00 at the church bazaar. It was in good shape except for the flaking paint, so we couldn't really say 'no' for that price.

But, the surface was a mess with flaking, chipping blue and white paint and dehydrated gray wicker underneath.

Step 1, we brushed off the loose paint with a 2" hard, bristle brush. We were gentle enough to remove the loose paint, but careful not to shred the wicker below.

Step 2, We used Waverly Chalk Paint by Plaid in Agave, Celery, Pool, Truffle, and Maize, and we also customized the paint colors with craft paints. This is easy to do! Just add acrylic craft paint to your chalk paint in small amounts and stir thoroughly. You'll get the beautiful chalk finish, with a custom color too.

Step 3, we poured paint in one side of a tray and liquid clear wax on the other side. We blended the wax paint as needed with a toothbrush in the center of the tray. It doesn't need to be a perfect blend. You can add more paint if you need, or secondary colors and complimentary colors. Mix as you go.

Step 4, we applied the wax paint to the wicker with a toothbrush. It was amazing how fast the project went with a toothbrush, because it holds a lot of paint and distributes it evenly … not to mention, it's great for getting into all those crevices.

It didn't take long to change the chair from blue to turquoise because the colors are relatively close together in nature.

But … when we highlighted some parts of the chair with gold, yellow, and orange, it took a lot more time and coats of paint for good coverage.

Blending patches of gold, brown, and orange gave the back of this chair a time-worn look.

Step 5, the flowers on the seat were also painted with a toothbrush. We switched to artist's brushes when necessary for covering larger areas and making relatively straight lines.

For an antique effect on the seat, we used dark brown around the edges and bright orange and yellow around the flowers. Each color was mixed with the clear wax. It took 2.5 hours to create the seat and cover that old blue, flaking paint.

Step 6, when the wax paint was dry, we brushed Waverly Chalk Paint in Celery with wax paint over the turquoise to give it a sun-bleached look. Later we used plain clear wax on the arms and front to give additional protection from wear and tear. Allow wax and paint to cure for several days for a pretty and durable finish!

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Stephie McCarthy

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Cha
    on Mar 7, 2020

    Luv this project and luv wicker, too! Any tips on how to repair missing bits of wicker on the arms and back of chair?

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Mar 7, 2020

      Yes, you can definitely repair it. Use wood glue to secure loose pieces. You can trim broken wicker back with wire cutters. Make a hook tool with a paper clip to help you weave new pieces of wicker into place, held with wood glue. If you put "reed for wicker" into Amazon, you will find coils of new wicker or synthetic wicker you can use. I've even used jute string to wrap around legs where wicker was uncoiling. -- Steph.

  • Angie
    on Mar 26, 2020

    What kind of wax did you use?

  • Roxanne Krieg
    on Jun 5, 2020

    Can I apply just the wax after I have already spray painted my wicker furniture?

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jun 5, 2020

      If you are spray painting with chalk paint, you can rub the wax on later … yes. But if you are using an enamel-type spray paint be sure to let that cure for several weeks before you try furniture wax on it. Also, do a test patch to make sure your wax will not leave a white residue on the type of paint you are using somewhere near the bottom of the furniture so that it will not show. A lot of spray paints already contain a sealer so you will want to make sure it is compatible with your wax and will not cloud when mixed together.

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