What Is Rattan Furniture? (And Why Is It the Right Choice for Your Outdoor Space?)

December 08, 2016

When it comes to choosing a type of furniture for outdoor spaces, many people get confused between rattan and wicker. While the two materials may seem very similar, they’ve got a host of critical differences. Read on to learn more about rattan furniture, and how adding it to your outdoor space can contribute to a luxurious and comfortable seating area.

Rattan Furniture 101

Rattan furniture is produced from a jungle vine grown throughout Southeast Asia. The furniture is made from sturdy, solid cane which features a vertical grain that makes it ideal for weight-bearing. Once the cane is harvested, it’s sliced into precise lengths and steamed, which allows artisans to shape it into the curves required by patio furniture.

Additionally, the skin of the vine is stripped off and soaked when the cane is harvested. The resulting pieces are used to enclose the furniture and provide additional strength and beauty.

The result is a luxurious, exotic piece of furniture that’s also very strong and durable. Because the cane grew in a tropical environment in the first place, rattan furniture performs well in hot, humid, tropical or sub-tropical environments, where it stands up to the elements and performs beautifully in outdoor settings.

The Difference Between Rattan and Whicker

Wicker is a weaving process that uses materials like willow and reeds to create baskets, furniture, and mats. The weaving technique has been used for thousands of years and is revered for being eco-friendly and attractive.

While wicker provides some of the same looks as rattan, it’s not nearly as strong. Because the materials used in wicker furniture are thinner and less durable than the cane used in rattan furniture, wicker is at risk of tearing, ripping, or wearing out faster than rattan, which makes it unsuitable for humid or tropical environments.

Although it’s not uncommon to find luxury collectors with pieces of wicker furniture dating back to the Victorian period, this furniture often isn’t meant to be kept outside and may break down quickly if it were.

At the end of the day, rattan is the stronger of the two materials and will perform better in an outdoor seating environment.

Natural vs. Synthetic Rattan

If you’d like to use rattan furniture in your outdoor spaces, you’ll have the choice between natural and synthetic rattan. Here’s a breakdown of each type of material:

Synthetic Rattan: Synthetic rattan looks quite a lot like natural rattan at first glance. The weave style is similar, synthetic rattan furniture comes in a wide selection of shapes and sizes, and the material is durable enough to withstand the elements. That said, however, many owners of synthetic rattan report that the material doesn’t have the same character as traditional, handwoven, natural rattan.

That said, there is typically no difference in the comfort of synthetic rattan, and the durability of synthetic rattan furniture may be greater than natural materials.

Natural Rattan: Although natural rattan is popular in tropical climates, it doesn’t hold up well to regular soakings or consistent exposure to direct sunlight. That said, natural rattan furniture will stay beautiful for decades as long as you care for it properly. To extend the life of your rattan furniture, keep it in a covered area, like a patio or under an overhang.

Unlike synthetic rattan, natural rattan furniture has lots of character and uniqueness, which is what makes this such a treasured material among so many homeowners.

The Case for Traditional Rattan Furniture

If you’re looking for beautiful, durable, luxurious outdoor furniture, natural rattan is the way to go. Revered for its durability, traditional craftsmanship, and quality appearance, rattan furniture works perfectly in environments ranging from private homes to outdoor commercial patios.

Plus, since rattan furniture is available in such a wide selection of colors, shapes, and sizes, it’s not hard to find a beautiful outdoor set that matches your décor and enhances the overall look of your space. For best results, choose a set that’s comfortable and functional, with indoor/outdoor cushions for added luxury and durability.

Remember that, once you purchase rattan furniture, it’s critical to care for it appropriately. Rattan will wear out if left in the sun and rain, and making your rattan last for decades is a matter of respecting the craftsmanship that went into the piece, and keeping it in a safe, dry place throughout its life.

When cared for properly, rattan furniture is a gorgeous addition to any outdoor space and can provide a comfortable and luxurious reprieve from the hectic pace of everyday life.

Ready to find your ideal rattan furniture set? Contact us today to learn more about our ample selection!