Wicker furniture made from natural rattan has made a major comeback in recent years. More and more people are choosing it to fill their outdoor space with comfortable and great-looking furniture.
But many people also realize that rattan furniture pieces with and without wicker weaving are perfectly suitable for indoor use as well.
Before you jump into such a buying decision, there are a few things you need to consider before buying a new furniture set to use in and outdoors.
Let’s start with some basics.
Wicker rattan is a combination of the oldest furniture-making method and sustainable wood material that makes it ideal for use in outdoor furniture.
More on the history shortly.
Wicker generally refers to a woven material that can be anything from rattan stalks to grass, and bamboo to synthetic plastics. So when you hear people talk about wicker furniture, it just means some form of weaving.
On the other hand, natural rattan furniture refers to the use of wood from palm-like plants. These are climbing plants, and it’s the vines that form the source of wicker rattan furniture.
But it’s the details that are important.
Rattan furniture on its own can be created with very thick vines that manufacturers can bend into required shapes. These rattan pieces are solid, durable, and strong. And once you add thinner woven rattan vines, you have what is correctly referred to as wicker rattan.
Wicker weaves for furniture, and other household items have been around for thousands of years, going all the way back to ancient Egypt. But this type of furniture design was made popular again through the arts and craft movement of the 20th century.
It’s also a common go-to furniture design method in tropical regions where people weave rattan and other types of vines into chairs, tables, and many types of storage devices.
It later became very popular in the Roman empire, where it was also a status symbol of wealth. Most households could only afford a few baskets, while wealthy Romans had chairs, chests, and boxes.
More widespread wicker furniture use didn’t happen until the 19th century across Europe and North America. It was expensive, but people thought it was more hygienic than upholstery.
And it quickly became clear that it was ideal for an outdoor space as it was so hard-wearing. This also led to many different wicker weaves and decor styles, which is what you can see today with all types of wicker and rattan chairs and tables.
The main appeal is still the durable nature, but it’s also the eco-friendly characteristic of rattan that is making it a lot more attractive to buyers.
Rattan is the wood from a reed or palm-like plant. Over 600 different species of plants fall into the rattan family, but they all have one thing in common.
Unlike hardwood sourced from regular trees, rattan is harvested from reeds and vines growing from the main plant. As farmers cut these vines of different thicknesses, the process doesn’t kill the entire plant like when you cut down a tree.
As a result, the vines grow back, and within a few years, they are ready for harvesting again. And because people are becoming increasingly conscious of deforestation and its impact on the environment, investing in natural rattan furniture is an eco-friendly option.
Rattan is also a very durable type of wood despite also being pliable. The fibers are strong and provide the wood with a toughness that competes with hardwoods like oak.
And because it weathers far better than hardwoods, rattan outdoor furniture can last for decades with some regular care and maintenance.
To understand the difference between wicker and rattan furniture, it’s important not to get the two mixed up. Many people will often refer to any kind of woven material in furniture as rattan when in fact, the weaving is what’s called wicker.
Wicker can be made of seagrass, reeds, and even synthetic materials like synthetic resins and PE rattan. When you see furniture advertised as wicker, all it refers to is some form of woven materials. There is no definition in the furniture design world that says all wicker must also be natural rattan material.
As we already defined above, rattan furniture is made with materials sourced from a vine-like plant. It’s simply referring to a very specific type of eco-friendly material.
To answer this question, I’m going to compare natural rattan furniture to synthetic rattan, and the important part is that both would have at least some part, like the tabletop or seat area of a chair with some sort of weave.
Some people will argue that the style of weave is also important as some are more durable, but that makes a side-by-side comparison nearly impossible.
So, let’s keep it simple.
Natural rattan wood is extremely tough wearing and pliable. That’s why it’s ideal for bending into shape for wicker furniture that you’re going to use outdoors. It will withstand extreme conditions as long as manufacturers have prepared it properly and applied the right protective finishes.
Whether you have harsh winters with freezing temperatures or long summer months with plenty of sunshine, wicker rattan furniture won’t just survive, but it will also maintain its natural beauty, with the right amount of protection and maintenance.
With synthetic woven wicker, you can still find great style, and it will be easy to keep clean outdoors. But that stylish new look that you enjoy so much won’t stand up to the elements.
Between water damage to cheap frame material, UV damage to the surface color, and scratches from daily wear and tear, you’ll quickly notice that a synthetic wicker furniture set won’t look great for as long as a natural rattan one.
Yes, rattan furniture will last as long as hardwood. And it will arguably last longer when used as outdoor furniture with just a little bit of regular care and maintenance.
And that is the important part.
If you simply leave your natural rattan furniture outdoors all year and never maintain it by topping up the protective finish, then, like any natural wood, it will start to break down.
That will leave it looking ugly, and it will eventually cause the weave and frame to break.
Compared to hardwood like oak and maple, it’s also a lot easier to keep a wicker table or chair clean. And despite it being lightweight, rattan won’t absorb as much moisture as hardwood.
It’s why you rarely see hardwood for outdoor furniture, making it a much more suitable option for indoors.
If you’re unsure what kind of material your wicker furniture is, then there are a couple of tips to follow to see what you have.
First of all, you’ll want to get up close to the furniture and inspect what it looks like. With synthetic rattan, you’ll likely find that it’s either completely uniform in color or it has a repeating pattern that the manufacturer printed onto the surface. You’ll just need to look at a couple of sections to notice this kind of printed style.
But if it’s completely uniform, then it could still be natural rattan furniture with a full coat of spray paint. This style is mainly on rattan furniture, where people want it to look less rustic and more contemporary.
Essentially, the paint hides the natural grain of the rattan.
So, the next thing you need to do is feel the surface of the rattan weave and frame sections. Because it’s a naturally growing vine, it should have imperfections. If it feels completely uniform and smooth, then it’s most likely synthetically made.
But if you can feel bumps and uneven edges, then it’s quite likely rattan or maybe bamboo. This is a lot more difficult to do without expert knowledge and equipment. But if you see some thicker sections of the frame where the round wood is hollow, then you’ve got bamboo garden or patio furniture.
What people like about rattan is that its durability is ideal for outdoor use, whether it’s in the sun or shade. It will stand up to rain and snow but will require regular maintenance and some protection to ensure it doesn’t break down or absorb moisture.
It’s also a lightweight option for patio furniture, which means that you can easily move it around or place it in storage for the winter months.
The stylish weave of wicker rattan has made it very popular as a choice of furniture for use indoors as well. Its natural look and rustic appeal make it a great choice if you have a classic interior design style.
You can buy rattan furniture for every room of your house, including beds, dining tables and chairs, and even storage options like chests. There really is nothing you can’t consider as a rattan option.
Natural rattan furniture is an amazing option for kitting out your garden or patio area and getting it ready for the summer. But you should also find some inspiration for bringing that same natural and eco-friendly wood into your home.
Start by looking at our extensive range of wicker rattan furniture to see how you could transform the look and feel of your home.
All of our furniture is made in America by the most skilled people in the furniture industry. And if you need some help with any of the products, then simply contact our team for support.
I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.