Rattan and wicker furnishings can add a modern natural vibe to your home’s décor. But before you rush out and grab some on-trend pieces, first understand what these two terms really mean.
Most people, including salespersons who sell furniture, tend to have this misconception that Rattan furniture and wicker furniture are practically the same. As such, the terms are often used interchangeably to describe indoor/outdoor furniture commonly found in homes.
The fact that rattan and wicker furniture fall under the same category doesn’t mean that they are indistinguishable; there is a remarkable difference between the two.
To help find out which woven furnishing is best for you- and how you can extend the life of your preferred option- we developed this expert guide to rattan and wicker furniture. We’ve also included some facts that will help you understand the difference between the two.
Rattan Furniture Overview
Rattan is a vine-like species and a close relative to the palm tree. There are over 600 different species of rattan found mostly in tropical regions in the jungle of the South Eastern region. It naturally grows in the shape of a pole with a diameter that varies between one to three inches.
Rattan palm has a strong pole, which is durable and hard to break and is thus used in various ways to create different types of furniture. The hardy, fibrous qualities makes this material a very popular choice and a hot commodity for both consumers and businesses alike.
It is lightweight, flexible, durable, and more importantly attractive. The vertical grains of rattan along with the sturdy core are harvested and cut into smaller pieces.
Then they are normally steamed to price varied shapes. The outside part of the rattan vine/pole- which is the peel- is mostly used to bind the furniture joints together.
Simply put, rattan is a general term used to address a wide variety of old-world climbing palms. Historically, rattan has also been seen in the field of sports equipment and weaponry and for making homes in rural areas where it grows. Primarily, though, it is used for wickerwork.
Unlike rattan, Wicker is not material. It is an ancient style of weave known as “wicker weave” used to make items out of natural materials such as rush, willow, rattan core, and more.
With thousands of years behind, the wicker style can be traced back to olden Egypt, where wicker baskets, boxes, and chests have been uncovered in the tombs of famous pharaohs.
Historically, wicker is made of woven fibers, although recently synthetic resins have been applied in the creation of wicker weaves. The natural materials are first made wet to make it easy to weave different wicker designs and furniture pieces.
Rattan vs Wicker: What's The Difference
The difference between the two is that rattan refers to a material while wicker is a style of weaving. The confusion lies on the point that wicker can be made from rattan as well as many other materials, whether natural or synthetic fibers.
For instance, there are many options of outdoor furniture that feature wicker rattan weaves. That basically means the actual material employed in the making of the furniture is rattan, and the technique used in the weaving is wicker. Hence “wicker rattan weave.”
Therefore, applying the terms “wicker” and “rattan” synonymously is like using “mashed” and “potato” to address the same thing. In this case, “potato” is the material (rattan) whereas “mashed” is the method or technique (wicker).
A wicker woven furniture, therefore could be made from natural rattan, synthetic rattan, cane, bamboo, or any usable material and still be termed as wicker due to its production.
With regards to durability and versatility, rattan furnishings score much than wicker items. Rattan has a strong core and is available in a variety of natural colors.
On the other hand, the strength and durability of wicker furniture usually depends on the type material employed in the wicker furniture production. Natural rattan items are sure to fade if exposed to sunlight. For that reason, they are considered best for indoors only.
Meanwhile, painted wicker furniture, or furnishings constructed with synthetic materials that don’t fade with exposure to sunlight. Meaning, they can be ideal for both outdoors and indoors.
Synthetic Wicker vs Natural Rattan
While synthetic furnishings are known to withstand the outdoors, items made with natural items are only meant for indoor purposes. Wicker furnishings are great for outdoor purposes because they are generally lightweight and easy to move around.
Although rattan is durable, and has been historically used for backyard furniture, it is not really the best choice for outdoor application given that it isn’t water resistant.
That means you will have to keep your rattan furnishings indoors or be sure to cover them when it rains. Synthetic rattan, meanwhile, can be an excellent option for outdoor use.
So, there you have the difference; Rattan is an actual material, meaning rattan furnishings are crafted out of rattan only. However, wicker furniture may be developed out of different materials such as straw, bamboo, and possibly rattan.
Final Word: Wicker and Rattan Aren’t the Same
To sum up, rattan and wicker aren’t the same. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is that they are both lightweight and less expensive than your ordinary furniture sets.
Rattan is an actual material, meaning rattan furnishings are crafted out of rattan only. However, wicker is a weaving technique; thus, wicker furniture may be developed out of different materials such as straw, bamboo, and even rattan.
If you’re searching for a stylish, lightweight and long-lasting product, rattan is definitely your best bet. If you’re interested in natural woven material, then wicker should be the way to go.
Whichever option you go for, just remember to cover, maintain and clean it as needed to help prolong the usage life.
While synthetic rattan is typically weather-proof, natural wicker rattan may be susceptible to different climates like rain and downpour.