Are you looking to revamp your outdoor space with stylish and functional patio furniture but find yourself puzzled over the difference between wicker and rattan? Fear not, for you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we’ll unravel the mystery surrounding these puzzling terms (is there really a difference?!).
We’ll delve into the world of wicker patio furniture and different materials and provide invaluable tips to help you choose the best option for your outdoor haven.
So, let’s get to it!
When you are done reading below, come back and check out:
👉 Black wicker is a popular option for outdoor furniture. Check out our roundup of some of the best black wicker patio furniture options.
👉 Get all the info you will ever need about wicker with our complete guide to wicker outdoor furniture.
Table of Contents
What is Wicker?
Wicker refers to a weaving technique that utilizes various materials like rattan, bamboo, reed, willow, or synthetic fibers to create intricately designed furniture pieces. With a history dating back to ancient Egypt, wicker has become an enduring choice for outdoor (and indoor) furniture due to its durability, lightweight nature, and versatility. From traditional to contemporary, wicker furniture designs run the gamut, catering to various tastes and preferences.
What is Rattan?
Rattan is a natural material derived from a type of palm plant that thrives in tropical regions. Known for its strength, flexibility, and resistance to splintering, rattan is harvested and processed to be used in a variety of applications, including furniture making. Rattan furniture showcases an array of styles and designs, offering homeowners plenty of choices to enhance their outdoor spaces.
Wicker vs. Rattan: What's the Real Difference?
👉 What’s the difference? The distinction between wicker and rattan lies in the fact that wicker is a weave, while rattan is a material commonly used to create wicker weaves. So really, there isn’t a meaningful difference between the terms wicker and rattan when it comes to patio furniture, and they can be used to mean the same thing: wicker-style patio furniture.
💥 But, the crucial question for readers shouldn’t really about wicker versus rattan, but rather if the material used to make the wicker furniture is natural, like rattan, or synthetic. Understanding this distinction allows homeowners to make more informed decisions when selecting the perfect outdoor furniture for their backyard oasis.
The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Wicker or Rattan
Natural wicker furniture is crafted from organic materials like rattan, bamboo, reed, or willow, lending an authentic touch to outdoor furniture. Synthetic wicker or rattan, on the other hand, is manufactured from man-made materials such as polyethylene, resin, vinyl, or plastic material, providing a more durable and weather-resistant alternative.
When comparing natural and synthetic wicker or rattan, several factors come into play, including appearance, durability, maintenance, cost, and environmental impact. While natural wicker offers a classic, organic aesthetic, it requires more care and will not hold up as well against the elements. Synthetic wicker, though less authentic in appearance, is typically more durable, easier to maintain, and often more affordable.
To differentiate between natural and synthetic wicker or rattan, examine the texture, color, weight, and flexibility of the material. Natural wicker tends to have a more uneven texture and color, while synthetic materials are generally smoother and more consistent. Some lower-grade synthetic wicker furniture may look shiny too.
What Really is Synthetic Rattan?
Synthetic rattan is a man-made version of rattan that replicates the appearance and texture of natural rattan but is constructed from materials like resin or plastic. You may have seen some patio furniture labeled as “PE Rattan” or “All-Weather Rattan,” these terms mean they are a synthetic version of rattan (check out our articles that explain what PE Rattan and All-Weather Wicker are for more information). Synthetic rattan offers several advantages and disadvantages for homeowners to consider when selecting outdoor furniture.
The benefits of synthetic rattan include weather resistance, low maintenance, and recyclability. Synthetic rattan is designed to withstand the elements, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Additionally, it requires less care than natural rattan, which can be a significant selling point for busy homeowners. Synthetic rattan’s recyclability also reduces waste, contributing to a more sustainable outdoor living space.
However, synthetic rattan’s drawbacks include its non-biodegradability, energy consumption during production, and potential toxicity (mainly vinyl-type synthetic materials). These factors may concern environmentally conscious homeowners who prioritize eco-friendly materials in their outdoor spaces.
👉 What you really need to know:
If you are buying wicker outdoor furniture (even if it is called rattan), you want it made from synthetic materials. And, the vast majority of wicker patio furniture is made from synthetic materials.
Styles of Wicker or Rattan Patio Furniture
Wicker or rattan patio furniture is versatile enough to complement various outdoor décor themes such as bohemian, traditional, contemporary, coastal, modern, rustic, or tropical. Trendy and stylish wicker or rattan furniture pieces include egg chairs, daybeds, sectionals, bar sets, and swings. The main point is: no matter what your style is or what kind of patio furniture you are looking for, there is a wicker outdoor furniture option for you!
You can enhance your wicker or rattan patio furniture by accessorizing with cushions, pillows, rugs, lighting, plants, or art. These additions can bring a personal touch and elevate the overall aesthetic of your outdoor space.
How to Choose the Best Option for Your Outdoor Space
When deciding between wicker and rattan patio furniture, consider factors such as budget, style preference, climate, space availability, and intended use. Here are some tips and scenarios to help you make an informed choice:
Budget: Synthetic wicker furniture is generally more affordable than natural rattan, making it a better option for those on a budget.
Style preference: Consider your outdoor décor theme and choose furniture that complements it.
Climate: If you live in an area that can have some harsh weather (high heat, very wet, lots of sun, extreme cold), consider getting wicker patio furniture made with high-quality materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
Space availability: Measure your outdoor space and select furniture that fits comfortably without overcrowding the area.
Intended use: Consider how frequently you’ll use the furniture and whether it needs to withstand heavy usage or just occasional relaxation. Additionally, consider if you will need a cover to better protect your wicker patio furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wicker and Rattan Patio Furniture
Here are answers to some common questions about wicker and rattan patio furniture:
How to clean and care for wicker and rattan patio furniture?
For synthetic wicker, use a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt and debris. A mild soapy solution can be used to clean stubborn stains. Avoid using harsh chemicals or pressure washing, as these can damage the furniture. Regularly inspect the furniture for damage or wear and address any issues promptly.
How to protect wicker and rattan patio furniture from weather damage?
Wicker patio furniture made from synthetic materials is naturally weather resistant, with some materials being more weather resistant than others. To protect your furniture from weather damage, use outdoor furniture covers and store cushions indoors when not in use.
How to tell the difference between natural and synthetic wicker or rattan?
Examine the texture, color, weight, and flexibility of the material. Natural wicker tends to have a more uneven texture and color, while synthetic materials are generally smoother and more consistent.
How to tell the difference between high and low-quality wicker patio furniture?
Additionally, if you are trying the difference between a higher grade and lower grade of synthetic wicker, higher-grade wicker will usually be textured, thicker, and/or rounded. Whereas lower-grade wicker can be thin, flat, and shiny.
How long does wicker or rattan patio furniture last?
The lifespan of wicker or rattan patio furniture depends on the materials used, maintenance, and exposure to the elements. With proper care, synthetic rattan furniture (especially high-quality wicker) can last up to 20 years or more.
🚨 Now Check Out These Wicker Patio Furniture Options!
Now that you have good understanding of the difference between wicker and rattan, go check out some of our roundups and favorite brands of wicker patio furniture below!
In conclusion, wicker and rattan patio furniture offer a versatile and stylish option for your outdoor space. The key to remember is that wicker is a style of weave, and rattan is a material that can be used to make wicker weaves. For patio furniture, the terms can be used interchangeably to mean the same thing: wicker-style outdoor furniture.
Understanding the differences between natural and synthetic materials, as well as the various styles and trends available, will help you make the right choice for your needs. By considering factors such as budget, style preference, climate, and space availability, you can create a beautiful, functional, and comfortable outdoor haven with wicker or rattan furniture.
Don’t forget to care for your furniture properly and protect it from weather damage to extend its lifespan. Happy decorating, and enjoy your revamped outdoor space!