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5 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Rattan Furniture

With the arrival of the warm spring and summer months, it is the perfect time to relax outside and enjoy the sunshine. People looking for the best new home and garden furniture will find that light, durable and fashionable rattan furniture is the natural choice. This guide should help explain the differences in rattan types and narrow your choices in selecting the right furniture for your needs.

1) What is Rattan?

Rattan is a type of climbing palm vine closely related to the palm tree and has over roughly 600 species; it is a fast growing, very strong vine that grows in the jungles of the south eastern regions of Africa and Asia, growing in the shape of a pole with diameter varying between one to four inches and able reach a hundred feet high

The long canes are harvested, the outer skin is peeled away for use as weaving material, than the core is cut into sections and steamed until it is soft enough to be manipulated into shape.Rattan is therefore an incredibly strong and lightweight wood; the durable, resistant and versatile material is perfect for creating indoor and outdoor furniture that is long lasting.

2) Why Buy Rattan Furniture?

Outdoor rattan furniture has a natural, organic look and can be purchased in a wide variety of colours and fabrics allowing much versatility in style and appearance. The items are built to last for years, outdoors under all weather conditions with very little maintenance, thanks to the durable and resistant nature of the material. rattan furniture is designed to resist prolonged exposure to light UV rays and rain without fading or breaking apart, remaining attractive for ages.

The flexibility of the material allows for a wide selection of weave patterns providing styles to match multiple tastes and uses for different items. Most outdoor items favour a tight close woven weave for durability and support; seating is usually accompanied by thick padded cushions for extra comfort.

Rattan can be both good and bad for the environment depending on the source. If using high quality natural fibres sourced from an environmentally conscious and sustaining forest or factory than these items can be beneficial as they replace wood, preserving forests from deforestation, and provide a sustainable economy with jobs to the areas. Synthetic materials tend to raise more suspicion but most synthetic materials are developed and treated to ensure minimal harm to the environment using non-toxic and recyclable methods.

3) What Are The Different Types of Rattan?

Cane Rattan– Cane is the layer just beneath the outer skin of the rattan plant, which is removed before the cut rattan poles are stacked, cleaned, dried and smoked. After this process, the cane layer is then peeled and processed into long strands. Cane is suitable for weaving chair seats or wrapping material like rope due to its durability and flexible nature. Cane has a natural glossy shine to the skin and does not absorb stain well; therefore furniture is usually left in its natural colour.
Reed Rattan– Reed is the inner wood-like layer of the rattan plant, more fibrous and porous than the cane. This part is far more absorbent which allows it to be easily stained, painted or lacquered in a wide range of options. Reed is often used for decorative embellishments on wicker furniture such as swirls, leafs or floral patterning.
Synthetic Rattan– Synthetic rattan is usually constructed from a plastic material known as Polyethylene, designed to resemble and mimic the properties of rattan, wicker or bamboo. PE rattan is a highly popular choice for making garden furniture as it is generally weather-proof and Ultraviolet (UV) resistant, so items do not fade, dry or crack. The rattan can be dyed or spray painted before and after creating the items; also requiring very little maintenance. Other types of rattan include PU(polyurethane) and PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) but these options are not recyclable or as long lasting.

Natural Rattan vs. Synthetic Rattan

Generally synthetic rattan is the superior option for outdoor furniture as it is more durable and flexible allowing it to more easily withstands exposure to the elements for a number of years. Natural rattan would be less able to tolerate extreme weather conditions and more susceptible to rotting, UV damage and other damage; therefore natural rattan is more useful for indoor items.

However it is important to mention that the quality of the fibre used and the quality of the weaving have a major influence on the overall beauty and durability of the furniture as well. Synthetic rattan may be slightly more costly for high quality furniture, but if it is sourced from sustainably managed forests or manufactured in an environmentally conscious factory, you will save money in the long term with long lasting items and keep our planet green as well, compared to cheap versions.

Rattan vs. Wicker

Many people tend to believe that wicker and rattan furniture are almost alike, which results in the terms being used interchangeably to address outdoor/indoor furniture. The fact is that wicker and rattan fall under the same category but with remarkable differences between the two.

However Wicker is not a material but a technique used to manufacture products out of materials such as rattan, bamboo, rush, willow and straw. The natural materials are made wet and easily woven together to create wicker furniture; which is an incredibly popular choice due to its wide variety of materials, colours, contemporary designs and ease of maintenance. Yet if you require solid durability, versatility and long lasting furniture, rattan material is the ideal choice.

4) Which Rattan Furniture Is The Best For Me? 

Overall when choosing the right furniture for you it is a good idea to consider the pros and cons for the items; you should also ask yourself a few questions to narrow down your choice and select the best material for your needs:

  • Where will I keep the furniture?
  • Does it need to be able to withstand extreme weather?
  • How often will it be used?
  • Who will it be used by?
  • What kind of aesthetic design is required?
  • How much space is available?

If you are looking for high quality garden furniture there are some aspects that you need to look out for.

Weave tightness – the overall quality and tightness of the weave is important in ensuring a long lasting product, a solid, tight weave represents good quality workmanship.

UV Stabilised – for outdoor furniture it is necessary to make sure it is resistant to UV radiation, especially synthetic rattan as exposure to sunlight can cause them to fade and break down.

Powder-Coated frame – for furniture with a steel or aluminium frame, a powder coating is needed to increase its weather and rust resistance.

Fibre Type – Natural fibres are suitable for indoor items with synthetic fibres being the much better option for outdoor furniture. Some types are thicker or lighter than other versions.

Upholstery – Most garden furniture arrives with thick deep padded cushions to increase comfort, available in a range of materials or colours. Make sure you check whether the fabrics need to be removed in bad weather conditions.

5) How To Maintain My Rattan Furniture?

Thanks to its strong and durable design rattan furniture does not require any excessive cleaning schedule or maintenance. However as mentioned natural rattan is more vulnerable to the effects of the weather and would require resistant protective covers or indoor storage, making synthetic the recommended choice for garden furniture.

Your furniture can be simply maintained with some soap, warm water and a soft cloth or toothbrush. Lightly dip the small cloth in the soapy water and wipe the rattan without over wetting it, apply more detergent or water for tougher stains, and dry it in the sun or with a hairdryer if wet. Use an old toothbrush for cracks and crevices. You can apply a coat of lacquer with a paintbrush for added protection or use boiled linseed oil to restore any cracks.