What’s the difference between rattan and wicker patio furniture?

At DeVries we have decades of experience in selling patio furniture throughout New Jersey. We’ve definitely learned a thing or two about everything related to patio furniture, but one of our most frequently asked questions is what is the difference between rattan and wicker patio furniture?  Today we’ll share with you the key things to know when shopping for either wicker or rattan furniture.

Wicker and Rattan: What’s the Difference?

Sometimes customers get confused by the difference between wicker and rattan outdoor furniture.  In broad terms they describe much the same thing.  More specifically, wicker refers to the woven construction method by which these items are made, while rattan refers to the material used for weaving.  Rattan originally referred to a natural fibre harvested from a family of palms in Southeast Asia.  These days we use a more modern, lightweight, synthetic material called polyethylene rattan.  This material is more resistant to both ultraviolet light and water, and avoids contributing to the over-exploitation of the world’s natural rattan resources.  To add to the confusion between the two phrases, synthetic rattan is also sometimes referred to as resin wicker.

What to Look for in Rattan or Wicker Furniture

There are a few things to look for to get good value for money when shopping for wicker outdoor furniture.  Get these things right: it’s well worth your while.  Choose items made from quality materials with good workmanship, so you can be sure you’re fitting out your outdoor area with furniture providing relaxation in style and comfort for years to come.

The Frame

Aluminium, the second most widely used metal in the world, will not rust.  It will oxidize over time, but this won’t compromise the material’s strength.  Because it doesn’t rust, aluminium is a popular choice when it comes to manufacturing outdoor furniture frames.  It’s a lightweight material, however some manufacturers use aluminium that is too thin or of a poor quality.  Look for outdoor furniture built with an aluminium frame with a gauge of at least 1.2 millimeters.

Wicker furniture can also be built with a stainless steel frame to save money.  This is still a durable material, however it will rust over time.  An aluminium frame is better.  At Outdoor Living Direct, we stock wicker furniture with aluminium frames.

Powder coating is a process which helps to maintain and protect outdoor furniture from the elements.  Powder coating is an environmentally safe process, is extremely durable and will help resist chipping, rust or color fading from the sun.  Powder coating is a mostly cosmetic process on wicker furniture built on quality aluminium frames: the uncoated material is already very resistant to corrosion.

The Weaving

When shopping for rattan furniture consider the type of weave you would prefer – flat, narrow round or even half round. Flat rattan is the lightest of the bunch and considered standard amongst the industry. Narrow round rattan uses more rattan in the assembly of the product. The result is a much heavier product that will last a lot longer than the standard flat weave. There’s also a wide range of colors and textures available, so take time to choose a look that will reflect your personal style and enhance your outdoor area.

Some manufacturers use polypropylene rather than polyethylene rattan.  This is a cheaper but less sturdy material.

Weaving wicker furniture from rattan inevitably produces offcuts.  These offcuts can be recycled by placing them back in the rattan extruder.  Putting this material through the extruder a second time weakens it.  While there is nothing wrong with using a small amount of recycled material, too much will create a less sturdy material that is liable to fall apart when all you’re trying to do is enjoy a cup of tea and a moment to yourself.  At Outdoor Living Direct we use polyethylene rattan made with no more than 5% recycled material.

The Cushioning

The foam for cushioning material used in wicker furniture comes in two main types: regular foam sponge, and “sandwich” foam made with dacron.  Using regular foam sponge helps keep costs down and this material is suitable for items that will receive only occasional use.  Sandwich foam is a sturdier alternative which uses both foam layers as well as a material called dacron. These layers are “sandwiched” together, hence the name: one layer of foam to one layer of dacron.  Dacron is a synthetic, toughened polyester with elastic qualities making it an ideal material to use in between the foam layers.

For more information about buying wicker furniture in New Jersey, contact DeVries today!

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