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How to Paint Cane Furniture

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I personally love cane furniture.  I was so excited when I found these solid wood cane back chairs listed on Facebook Marketplace along with a table for an extremely reasonable price!  Prior to even picking up the set I had planned on painting the cane backed chairs. 

This post details the steps to paint second-hand cane furniture buys.  If you are painting new cane you could skip to Step 3. The good news is it’s a fairly simple process and doesn’t even require a paint brush! 

chair makeover

Step 1: Thoroughly Clean the Cane

How to reupholster dining room chairs

This is the first and most important step in the process, and is really a multi-part step.  Taking the time to clean the cane webbing well will allow for an even clean finishing. 

First, wipe down the cane with a soft bristled brush, I used a car washing broom.  This is to break loose any cobwebs, dust, etc. Then, grab your vacuum with a brush attachment and go over the cane to remove the loose dirt and grime.  Lastly, mix a few drops of mild soap with water and slightly dampen a microfiber rag and wipe the cane.  Then leave to dry.  

repairing cane chairs

Step 2: Lightly Sand the Cane

Using a fine (220 grit) sanding block, lightly sand your cane.  This will help to break some of the finish on the cane and allow for the paint to better adhere.  You will want to use light pressure when sanding.  Too much sanding pressure could damage the cane.

Step 3: Wipe with Denatured Alcohol

This step is mostly to clean off the sanding dust but denatured alcohol is also beneficial to ensure a very, very clean surface for painting. 

Use a lint-free rag and dampen with denatured alcohol.  Using light pressure go over the cane wiping away any dust and any remaining grime. 

rattan furniture

Step 4: Paint cane with a Primer

repairing cane chairs

Applying a primer helps to create a smooth even surface as well as reduced the amount of spray paint you will need to use.  A primer is particularly important if you are planning to paint the wood a light color as I was. 

I used the Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Spray Primer.  I use about one can per chair. You could choose to use a brush on primer since you will be spray painting the chair and this would be a bit more cost efficient option but my personal preference is to us a spray primer. 

Apply the spray primer in long, sweeping motions.  A primer is meant to provide a base layer, not to fully coat and cover, so it is okay if the wood is not completely covered. 

If there are any drips or bubble spots, once dry, be sure to go over the primer with a fine sanding block to smooth out.

Step 5: Paint the Cane

The easiest way to paint cane is to use either a paint sprayer or canned spray paint.  So, using the same method I used to apply the spray primer, I went over the cane and chair frame using the spray paint.  

I applied the spray paint in long sweeping motions.  I applied several light coats, allowing the paint to dry between coats.  This is the best method to ensure you get an even, smooth finish and prevent drips.  

I then let the chair dry completely overnight.  The following day I turned the chairs upside down and went over the chairs again with several light coats of spray paint.  By turning the chairs upside down this ensured the cane was fully covered in paint from all angles.  In total, I used approximately two cans of spray paint per chair. 

Step 6: Apply a Top Coat

I used a spray-on top coat that was recommended for the spray paint that I choose to use. This is another step where you could choose to use a brush on finish but after working so hard to paint the cane in light coats in the previous step I was worried a brush on option would ruin my smooth finish. 

I used the same long, sweeping motion as I had for the primer and the paint and went over the cane and chair frame with the spray on top coat. After the top coat was completely dry, I checked each chair to ensure it was fully sealed with the top coat.  I found the top coat went a long way – it took less than once can per chair but a bit more than just a half of a can.

paint cane furniture
paint cane furniture

Interested in more home décor DIYs? Check out our other Home How To’s here!

How to Paint Cane Furniture Links

*Disclosure: We only recommend products that we regularly use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own.  This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission.  We greatly appreciate your support in using our links! 

paint cane furniture

How to Paint Cane Furniture

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 hours
Build Time 3 hours
Dry Time 1 day


  • Soft Bristle Brush
  • Sanding Block
  • Microfiber Rag


  • Dawn Soap
  • Bullseye 123 Primer
  • Spray Paint
  • Spray Top Coat


  • Thoroughly Clean the Cane
  • Lightly Sand the Cane
  • Wipe with Denatured Alcohol
  • Paint Cane with a Primer
  • Paint the Cane
  • Apply Top Coat
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5 thoughts on “How to Paint Cane Furniture”

  1. I’m very pleased to find this page. I need to to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have you book-marked to look at new stuff on your web site.

  2. 5 stars
    May I ask what you used for a topcoat that won’t yellow my white chairs? I’m painting 7 chair almost identical to these. Is there a brand of spray paint you also used? I felt so fortunate to come across this tutorial at just the right time. Thank you!

    1. I used the Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Spray Paint, Matte Clear and this paired perfectly over top the Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Spray paint. I used the color Chiffon Cream. I have had no issue with yellowing with this top coat finish! Good Luck finishing your chairs!

    2. 5 stars
      Following up on your dining set, I have my chairs primed & ready to paint. Will this chalked paint hold up to heavy use. 2 boys and many meals. Originally thought about satin or semigloss but do like the look of mat. Thanks

      1. For me, the chalked paint with the top coat has held up great! However, this is not our everyday meal spot. If it was my chair for everyday use I would more than likely use the chalked paint (because I love the color) and then use a Rust-Oleum Ultra Color spray paint in Stain Clear. The stain will create a bit more of a sheen but not as shiny as a semi gloss and you will still be able to easily wipe it off. I have used this finish on other furniture and have not had any issue with yellowing! Here’s a direct link to what I’d personally use and recommend –

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