We wove together the facts
Rattan. Wicker. Bamboo. It all seems alike, doesn't it? You want to know which is best for you before you buy, so you get exactly what you're hoping for. They're all related, but the difference makes all the difference.
So what's the difference?
Think of wicker as a technique, not a material. The word "wicker" is rooted in the Scandinavian words for "bent willow." Wicker furniture can be made from anything you can weave together, including sticks and plastic fibers.
Rattan, on the other hand, is a specific kind of vine, famous for its strength compared to its light weight. Like bamboo, rattan grows fast and strong. It is a wonderfully renewable and sustainable resource. When you enjoy a rattan chair, you can also enjoy knowing you helped preserve a timber forest.
Soft, light and handsome
The rattan vine grows fast and it's easy to harvest. While bamboo is hollow and prone to brittleness, a rattan chair is strong, solid and flexible. The shiny outer skin of rattan, called the cane, is stripped off in long narrow strings. You can see this smooth, glossy cane on your rattan chair, where it's used to bind the sections together. The remaining center core is more porous and flexible. While a single strand can't support much, the core is remarkably durable when woven into rattan dining chairs, rattan end tables and even rattan bedroom furniture. Its flexibility makes it amazingly comfortable, as it shapes and forms to your body. Rattan doesn't split and splinter like bamboo, resulting in surprisingly strong yet lightweight wicker furniture.
Rattan's porous nature helps it absorb stain and paint well too. That's why it's common to see white rattan furniture. Other stains and washes can lighten or darken the natural earthy tones. Artisans create intricate combinations of rattan chairs accented with lighter bamboo, reed and banana fibers, with regal results.
Keep it inside
Like all natural fibers, rattan couches, loveseats and woven rockers are susceptible to the ravages of sun and rain. The breezy comfort of a rattan chair tempts you to take it outdoors, but the sun will weaken its structure. Keep your elegant rattan furniture indoors or on shaded patios only.
If you want the beauty of rattan for your sunny deck or patio, choose resin wicker. Woven like a rattan chair and just as flexible, resin wicker is made from polyresin synthetics that love all kinds of weather. They don't fade, crack or rot in the sun. To clean them, just hose them off.
But for natural, cool comfort and casual style, nothing beats real handmade rattan furniture, from relaxing wicker bedroom sets to rattan dining chairs, coffee tables and rattan end tables. Give it the tush test and see!