Guide to Rattan Outdoor Furniture

What Is Rattan Furniture?

Porch with outdoor rattan furniture.

Rattan furniture is made from natural or synthetic material and is a popular material for outdoor furniture. Natural rattan is a vine that originates from the South-East Asia region and is found in the jungles there. This material is extremely strong and easy to weave. It is also beautiful, which is why it has been used to create furniture for decades. 

When natural rattan is used to make outdoor furniture, the constant exposure to the elements causes it to become brittle. It often rots and breaks, meaning you cannot use it for extended periods. 

To increase its durability, manufacturers created Poly rattan, which is the most common synthetic alternative to traditional rattan. This new synthetic version is much more durable and can survive harsh conditions without rotting. Furniture made with Poly rattan is also an economical alternative because it lasts long and is durable.

This rattan is then weaved in a classic wicker style, creating a laid back boho look common in outdoor furniture. The horizontal strands are interwoven between the vertical ones, and the finished piece is dense, durable, and exquisitely detailed.

Rattan outdoor furniture is highly versatile and easy to style. The texture allows you to make your outdoor space look more boho or cozy. The warm natural hues and whimsical swirls can fit into any outdoor setting, making the place look stylish. It also breathes fresh life into the space. 

Advantages of Choosing Rattan Furniture

Several pieces of rattan furniture with different coloured cushions.

Rattan furniture is commonly found in most outdoor spaces. It is so prevalent because there are many advantages to using rattan furniture.

Stylish and Adaptable

Rattan furniture is extremely easy to incorporate into any outdoor space. You can place them in patio areas, balconies, gardens, and even conservatories. Due to their color, they easily blend in with nature and look like they were meant to be there. If you have a cozy apartment balcony, you can even place your rattan pieces there to elevate the space.

By purchasing rattan furniture, you are not limited to using them only in outdoor spaces. You can repurpose them for indoor furniture as well. Additionally, suppose you decide to change the look of your outdoor space. In that case, you could probably fit the rattan furniture into the new look because of how adaptable it is to every style.

Low Maintenance

Rattan furniture is effortless to maintain because it can be cleaned with soapy water and a soft cloth. The material does not absorb liquid; therefore, you must wipe the surface to remove dust and stains. Cleaning the rattan often allows you to keep its weave tighter for longer. Other than cleaning it, you don’t need to do much else. 

Hardwearing

Furniture made out of rattan is extremely tough and durable, meaning that when you purchase a piece of furniture, you are making an investment. Rattan outdoor furniture pieces are designed to last long and offer years of comfort and enjoyment.

Weatherproof

Rattan furniture mainly uses poly rattan, which is designed to prevent UV light damage. It can also stand up well against snow, rain, and wind exposure. This makes such furniture perfect to use in areas that experience a wide variety of climates. 

Lightweight

Furniture made using rattan is exceptionally lightweight, and you can quickly move it around your garden or patio when needed. Its lightweight nature makes redecorating extremely easy. However, such furniture is not breakable. Rattan furniture is often made using a powder-coated aluminum framework, making the furniture solid and stable. 

Compared to other kinds of material, rattan furniture is beautiful, versatile, and long-lasting.

The Difference Between Rattan and Other Kinds of Furniture

Two wicker chairs and a small table.

Rattan outdoor furniture is often confused with other materials, such as wicker and bamboo. Although they look similar, it would be incorrect to use the terms interchangeably because of notable differences.

Rattan is essentially a kind of vine among the family of palm trees. On the other hand, wicker is not a raw material but an end result. The process of making wicker includes using willow, straw, bamboo, and sometimes rattan core to produce goods. The material is also wet during wicker making, making weaving the wicker-style furniture quick and easy. 

When comparing rattan and wicker, rattan is much more suitable for outdoor furniture because it is versatile and durable. This is because rattan has a solid core, making it much more reliable than wicker-style furniture. However, the durability of wicker furniture may vary depending on the kind of materials used.

Suppose you are using these materials to make outdoor furniture. In that case, wicker may be a better option than natural rattan because the latter is prone to fading when exposed to sunlight. If you paint your wicker furniture or use synthetic material for it, it will not fade when exposed to sunlight. Wicker furniture is also more versatile as it can be used indoors and outdoors. 

Rattan furniture is also often confused with furniture made using bamboo. Both of these materials are sustainable but come from different plant species. The main difference between the two is that bamboo is much more rigid and does not bend easily, while rattan is more pliable. Bamboo is also hollow in the middle, and rattan is not, making the latter much stronger.

To check whether your furniture is made using rattan or bamboo, you can try to bend the canes. If they do, then the furniture is made using rattan.

How To Choose Rattan Outdoor Furniture

A rattan couch and armchair on a terrace with flowers.

Suppose you are in the market for rattan furniture. In that case, there are many different factors that you should take into consideration to ensure that you purchase long-lasting and durable pieces. By considering these factors, you can also ensure you get the best value for your money.

Color

When purchasing rattan furniture, pick a color that compliments the overall theme of your other outdoor furniture. You do not want one light-colored piece to pair with darker-hued furniture. 

Most rattan outdoor furniture comes in dark brown or beige colors. These colors are universally flattering and go well with most colors. Ensure that you factor in other predominant colors in your space and choose a color that will complement it. 

Size

Rattan furniture is available in a variety of sizes. You can find expansive sets or buy a single small chair. However, suppose you purchase just one rattan piece. In that case, it may be challenging to purchase a matching item in the future, so try to buy enough seating options. You should also factor in the size of the furniture in comparison to the area. Do not buy pieces that are too large or too small for your outdoor space.

Weight

Rattan furniture is designed to be lightweight, meaning that you can quickly move it or stack it on top of each other when not in use. If you have a small space and want to avoid your outdoor furniture taking over the area all the time, aim to choose a lighter rattan variety. On the other hand, if you intend to leave your furniture out and plan to move it infrequently, you can opt for the heavier variety.

Frame Type

If you plan on purchasing rattan furniture for your outdoor space, ensure that you purchase one with a powder-coated aluminum frame. Since outdoor furniture is exposed to elements like the sun regularly, they are more likely to develop rust. When rust starts growing on the frame, its integrity is compromised, and the structure weakens. Powder-coated aluminum frames are designed to resist developing rust, thereby increasing the longevity of rattan furniture. 

Aluminum is impervious to corrosion, lightweight, and robust. Therefore, it is the perfect material as it increases the longevity of the furniture pieces.

You should also invest in a shield cover, which can protect the furniture when you are not using it. A shield cover is instrumental if you plan on leaving your rattan furniture out in the open for extended periods. 

UV Protection

Outdoor furniture is often left in the sun for extended periods, which can significantly affect the quality of the material. When furniture is left in the sun and exposed to UV radiation for extended periods, it can fade. Therefore, you must invest in rattan furniture that offers UV protection, which will allow the color of the furniture to remain vibrant. UV protection also helps prevent the rattan from splitting, which can happen due to heat. 

Weather Resistance

When purchasing rattan garden furniture, ensure that you choose one that is weatherproof or weather resistant. Since garden furniture is meant to be left out in the garden or patio for extended periods, it should be able to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. 

Rattan is a natural material found growing in rainforests, meaning that it is made to survive outdoors and has built-in weatherproof properties. These weatherproof properties enable it to withstand the harshest conditions, such as snow, sun, and wind. 

However, ensure that if you intend on leaving your furniture all year, you choose poly rattan. Natural rattan is not waterproof and will most likely get damaged if you live in an area with high moisture or rainfall. On the other hand, poly rattan is resistant to rain and 100% waterproof. Therefore, it is much more suited for outdoor furniture, as it won’t swell, rot, or grow mold in damp conditions. 

Despite the weatherproof quality of poly rattan, ensure that you use furniture covers so that your furniture can last longer. By adding a layer of material, you can significantly reduce element-based damage. 

Weaving and Wrapping

Always check the weaving and wrapping when picking out a piece of rattan furniture. Ensure that it is done expertly and is of high quality. Ideally, you should not be able to pick apart the weaving or wrapping. To ensure that the weaving is done well, inspect it closely and see if you can pick the wrapping away from the frame or loosen it. If you can, it is a low-quality piece, and you should steer clear of it. 

The tightness of the weaving on rattan furniture significantly affects how durable the piece is. Aim to purchase rattan furniture that has a tight weave. The tighter the weave, the more durable it will be. Looser weaving breaks down and unravels much more quickly than tight weaving, making the piece unusable.

It would help if you also took note of the weave. The more complex a weave is, the higher the durability of the piece of furniture. 

Kind of Weave Advantage
Flat Weave It is a single and thin layer of strong and durable material. Therefore, it is an excellent value for your money.
Half-rounded Weave The half-rounded weave is thicker and heavier, which is often a lot stronger than other kinds of weaves. It is more premium and imitates genuine rattan.
Rounded Weave Rounded weaving is beautiful and gives furniture a three-dimensional touch. It has a high-end feel to it.

Comfort

When picking out a piece of furniture, you should ensure it is comfortable to sit on. It should not have sharp corners or irregular edges as it will make it uncomfortable. Test the furniture by sitting on it as you would normally. If the surface digs in or is unstable, you should avoid it at all costs.

Authentic and high-quality rattan furniture has no sharp edges and is extremely strong. It holds its shape when pressure is put on it and feels solid when placed on the ground. You can add pillows or cushions to make your rattan furniture more comfortable. Still, even without them, the piece should be comfortable enough for you to sit or lie on.

The Functionality of the Product

Rattan furniture comes in all shapes and sizes, which is why it is essential to purchase functional pieces. Ensure that the pieces are neither both manageable nor comfortable. Otherwise, they will not be user-friendly and will remain unused. 

Synthetic vs. Real Rattan

When purchasing rattan furniture, do not shy away from synthetic or poly rattan because it does not mean that the piece is low quality or cheap. Poly rattan has been greatly improved and perfected over the years. It looks just as beautiful and luxurious as the authentic kind. 

Poly rattan is even more durable because it is designed to be weatherproof, meaning it will neither rot nor degrade. It is a good option for outdoor furniture you intend to leave out in your garden or terrace year-round. Synthetic rattan offers you the feel and looks of authentic rattan without the need for maintenance and the fear of degradation.

How To Maintain Outdoor Rattan Furniture

Cleaning rattan with a cloth

Rattan outdoor furniture is known for being low maintenance, which is why it has become popular among homeowners. However, this does not mean that rattan furniture does not require any maintenance. The better you maintain your furniture, the longer it will survive.

One of the best maintenance strategies is to use a rattan cover. Such covers protect your outdoor rattan furniture from all the elements that may wear it down. It acts as an extra barrier against UV rays, wind, rain, and snow to increase the longevity of your products. Rattan covers are cheap; you can leave them on all year round when you are not using the furniture. 

You should avoid using harsh chemicals on your rattan furniture. Ensure that you use gentle soaps and cleaners to clean the furniture and warm water. Once they are clean, leave them outside to dry naturally. The more chemicals you use on such outdoor furniture, the quicker techy will deteriorate. It would be best if you also wrung out the cloth before using it because excess water exposure can cause mold and rot on natural rattan.

Check that the crevices and corners of your rattan furniture do not have any dust, dirt, or food bits. Over time, the gaps and corners get dirty with lodged items. Still, they can be easily cleaned using a vacuum and a brush attachment. 

When exposed to high temperatures, rattan can dry out, and you may see cracks or warping. You can apply boiled linseed oil or tung to fix such signs of degradation. This helps keep the skin of the rattan well moisturized and protected to prevent it from drying out. 

Getting rubber stoppers to attach to the bottom of your rattan garden is also an excellent idea, as it protects the bottom of the furniture from experiencing wear and tear. If you do not attach the rattan, high levels of wear and tear may cause the legs to become uneven, and the furniture piece will lose its balance. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Rattan couch with blue cushions.

Advantages Disadvantages
They are versatile and stylish, meaning you can use them indoors and outdoors. They are more uncomfortable as compared to soft couches.
They are eco-friendly since rattan is a sustainable material. It is an excellent replacement for wood furniture that requires manufacturers to cut down an entire tree. They may loosen over time and need repairs.
It can survive harsh outdoor weather. If you use natural rattan, you will need to take care of it to ensure it remains in good condition.

FAQs

1. Can rattan furniture be left outside?

Yes, you can leave your synthetic rattan furniture outside at all times because they are weatherproof and built to withstand harsh climates. If you own natural or low-quality rattan, you should avoid overexposing it to sunlight and rain, as it can cause swelling, fading, and rotting.

2. How can you differentiate low-quality rattan from high-quality rattan?

High-quality rattan should feel bouncy, and you should be able to put pressure on it without it losing its shape.

3. What is the difference between poly rattan and rattan?

Poly rattan is a much more durable form of natural rattan that requires low maintenance. If you use natural rattan, you will need to treat it with dedicated oils and preservatives. On the other hand, you need to do little to maintain poly rattan.

Conclusion

Rattan outdoor furniture is a classic in most patios as the color and style blend exceptionally well in natural settings. They are an excellent replacement for wooden garden chairs because furniture made out of such material is highly durable and long-lasting. The woven pattern of such furniture is also gorgeous and has a chic boho feel to it. Such pieces are also highly versatile.

However, it would be best if you were vigilant when purchasing rattan furniture. Ensure that you check the weaving, size, comfort, weather resistance, and frame type before you make your purchase.