Cane backed dining chairs need new cane. What can I do instead?

by Vj
Replacing cane is expensive. I want to update, but keep the low-key, elegant look.
  22 answers
  • Karyn Workman Karyn Workman on Jan 12, 2015
    Possibly a thick canvas material with tack heads?
    • Anna Kowalik Anna Kowalik on Jan 13, 2015
      @Karyn Workman I have done that, only with upholstery fabric. On the back side, I filled in the frame with foam and covered it with the same fabric to level out the back of the chair. It looked like I bought a new chair. It was easy and took under an hour to do one chair. I would recommend tacks that come in strips to speed up the process by not having to measure the spaces between tacks to get a professional look. The tack strips didn't exist when I reupholstered mine 2 decades ago. It could save you 30 min. per chair on the job.
  • Fiona Dorse Fiona Dorse on Jan 12, 2015
    This is the design of the chair so just replace the cane as if you covered your chair it will cost the same as replacing the cane. :-)
    • Fla33737514 Fla33737514 on Jul 05, 2018

      were can I look to get the Cain back look as if can be remove and replace. I love the Cain look

  • Rebecca Rebecca on Jan 12, 2015
    It looks as if your chairs have machine caning, not hand caning. Machine cane isn't very expensive at all, really. It comes on a roll, and you use a spline to cover the groove it fits in. If you're a DIY'er, you can probably handle it. Just search for caning supplies or try Van Dyke's, then try YouTube.
    • Becky Becky on Jan 13, 2015
      @Rebecca My husband did what Rebecca said and it worked out great. It was under $10 and he had to do back and seat. We have cane left over. Yes, it comes in a roll.
  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Jan 13, 2015
    I haven't checked prices lately but I know that you can buy cane that is not real cane at most of the big box stores, like Home Depot, Lowes or Menards and as I recall, it is not that expensive.
  • Deborah Deborah on Jan 13, 2015
    Recanting a chair isn't really hard. Franks Rush in CA will provide you all the tools you need to do a great job. Them you can get paid for doing it too!
  • Joyce Overbay Joyce Overbay on Jan 13, 2015
    By looking at this set I think I have the same one. I was wanting to do the bottom of the chairs in another fabric. Seen looking at some upholstery stores at mat. but could not make up my mind. I do like the cane backs and mine are still like new but I have had this set over 30 some years.
    • See 1 previous
    • Vj Vj on Jan 19, 2015
      @Joyce Overbay I've changed the fabric several times. Do one chair, live with it for a week to see if you like, then do the others.
  • 512181 512181 on Jan 13, 2015
    I have seen some backs slipcovered. You, of course, can redo the seats easily. If the caning is not broken, you can try to restain it, or even paint it. I think my daughter had caning done on the back of a chair and it was around $100.00.
  • Susan Cryor Susan Cryor on Jan 13, 2015
    Comes in a roll, easy to do. Yes, stain to match and Polly to protect. YOU CAN DO IT!
  • Melissa Merrill Boyle Melissa Merrill Boyle on Jan 13, 2015
    Yes, you could add some padding and upholster but you would need to cut an insert or frame the shape of the cane opening to tack the back fabric under while the front fabric would be tacked to the inside of the frame. There are other ways but none that are super easy. another option is paint... I am working on cane chairs now for a customer. I'll attach some pics
  • Joyce Willingham Joyce Willingham on Jan 13, 2015
    Try Franks Cane Supply I think is the right name. Been a few years. I bought from them and it didn't seem expensive.
  • Tweetermama2 Tweetermama2 on Jan 13, 2015
    I had the same kind of chair. I removed the cane and slip covered with my desired fabric and nailed it back inside the groove. Then I used a fabric trim and hot glued it on top of the groove. They came out beautiful.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Jan 13, 2015
    It's difficult to tell from the picture if the cane is secured to the chair back by being laced through holes or if there is a spline holding the cane in, much like spline holds screen in a screen door or window frame. If it is spline in, you could remove the spline. That's a tedious process, but it can be done. Remove the old cane and clean out the track that it was laid in, then brush in a small amount of glue and insert new cane. The new cane and spline have to be soaked before inserting. That's how the cane became so nice and taught to begin with. When the cane dries out it becomes nice and tight, like a bow string. If you can't recane the chairs, others have offered alternative solutions such as applying fabric and trim to the front, filling in the 1 inch or so depth in the back with batting and upholstering the back as you do the front. I can't think of any other way to solve your challenge. Either way, you will be dealing with either a series of holes around the perimeter of the caning or a spline track, both of which will have to be covered or camouflaged in some form or fashion.
  • Sarah Sarah on Jan 13, 2015
    Recaning is not hard, just a bit time consuming. If it's pressed cane, it comes on a roll and the most time consuming part is digging the old spline out of the groove. There should be plenty of tutorials online to teach you how to replace it. If its regular caning, there are also tutorials online that teach you how do do it. If you just have one chair to do, it's probably not worth buying all the supplies, but you should be able to find someone who can re-cane it for around $100, depending on how many holes there are. I typically see places that charge $1-$3 per hole, and probably more in some places. I typically charge $1 per hole, but I'm certainly not a professional.
  • Barb Burnham Barb Burnham on Jan 13, 2015
    Caning had its day. I am all for removing the cane, creating a template to got the opening, some foam padding and upholstery. Then maybe even use nail head trim to reinsert into the chair. If not, a braid trim glued around the edges would be fine.
  • STORM COSBY STORM COSBY on Jan 13, 2015
    Pad it and cover the cane part in a brocade fabric. Spray with scotch guard.
  • Carole Carole on Jan 13, 2015
    If the cane is dirty or faded rather than damaged or broken, you can spray paint it if you are making over your chair. Otherwise as someone already suggested on here, you can buy the cane on a roll and do it yourself, or pad and cover.
  • Aris Aris on Jan 13, 2015
    As rattan becomes scarcer and more expensive, I propose you try your best to retain what's there, rather than doing any major overhaul. My slant to antique furniture has always been the 3 Rs - restore, repair and reuse. Varnish the cane in a caramel colour and apply this perhaps 2-3 times to lock in the colour and protect the material from further deterioration. I'd then recommend you focus your attention on the seats instead. There are beautifully rendered embossed design seats here, which will match the elegance of the cane. But if the condition is truly a concern, and parts have gave away, and cost is a big issue. There are synthetic alternatives that you can go for that is cheaper, but look and feel amazingly like the real deal. This will be especially a blessing if you need to do the replacement on all your dining chairs. Check this out
  • Cindy hurst Cindy hurst on Jan 14, 2015
    check my board on pinterest, things i like, theres a pattern for cross stitching this type of chair
  • William H Wilson William H Wilson on Mar 04, 2015
    why is it that someone asks a question and a bunch of people jump on with answers that are about what they would do with the project.. the question wasn't how do I re-cane a chair or should I.. the question was.. what other options are available... I personally would remove the cane, route out around the edge of cutout to remove ridge that holds cane and spline.. then cut a piece of thin plywood to fit in place of the cane.. you could either stain the wood or upholster it to match the seat.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Mar 04, 2015
    Another upholstery-type option would be to create medium-thick padded upholstered "pillows" shaped like the back. Make a thick one for the front face of the chair and a thinner one for the back. Then, attach them using covered buttons and creating a tufted look. The cane would act as the grid for attaching the upholstered pillow shapes and be sandwiched between them.
  • Monica Monica on Mar 04, 2015
    For a more rustic look, use baling string or jute. Baling string is the rope or string used on hay bales. If you know someone that has a farm or livestock, see if they would just give you the string. Jute would be work as well and it is easier to find, such as at fabric or craft stores. It also comes in different weights or strengths. You could weave into different patters. If you painted the chairs a white or cream color, distress it a bit, recovered the seat with a burlap fabric (there are different weaves -tighter weaves get softer), and use the string, that would be a Rachel Ashwell style piece. Weaving is time consuming, about the same as re-caning. Reuse restore recycle,etc!!! I hope this helps.
  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Oct 26, 2015
    My dining room chairs were bought in 1982 and the seats and backs have been re-caned twice for about $800. The most recent re-caning is still holding up. I wanted to change the look, however. I am in the process of painting them with chalk paint. Check out Annie Sloan on youtube for directions and examples. I didn't buy her paint because it's very expensive. Check Amazon for chalk paint half the price that seems to work well. It's a bit labor intense as you need to apply one to three coats of special wax and then buff it. To re-upholster the seat, turn the chair upside down and unscrew the set-in screws you will find there to release the seat. I used 2" foam to reupholster some other chairs, and it seems to be the right thickness for a chair. Add some batting around the foam. Look at Annie Sloan's fabrics to get an idea of what fabric to use. Wrap the fabric around the foam and batting and use a staple gun to secure, then screw back onto the chair. You will need another set of hands to do it well. See youtube for instructions. Hope this helps.