Rattan, from which most of this furniture is made, is a unique palm plant found in parts of south-east Asia, and characterized by its slender stems and vine-like growing patterns. As its grain grows vertically, instead of fanning out like most hardwoods, it is considered one of the strongest woods in the world. To make rattan furniture, the straight wood is steamed, bent into the desired shape, and then dried — once dried, it retains its shape permanently.
A popular question we often get asked is...what is rattan garden furniture? Rattan garden furniture is made from a synthetic weave and is perfect for leaving outdoors all year as it is treated and woven on aluminium frames. Real/natural rattan could not be used outside. Hence the use of the term 'rattan' when describing garden furniture is usually always the synthetic type. You may also have heard it called wicker or weave; they refer to synthetic rattan.
Synthetic Rattan is a flexible but sturdy man-made fibre which has revolutionised the garden furniture market. Good quality synthetic rattan furniture is impervious to the forces of both mother nature and day to day use. It won't fade in the sun, become brittle and crack in the cold, peel or suffer from mildew even if left outside all year round. Furthermore it can do all this without maintenance and is available in traditional or truly modern designs.
Unlike traditional natural wicker garden furniture which is woven from natural abaca (palm) strands, modern outdoor all weather wicker garden furniture is hand woven from new weather resistant synthetics that are far more durable and include UV proofing additives that can resist fading for decades. Synthetic wicker garden furniture will keep its colour far longer than traditional garden outdoor furniture and is also chlorine resistant. It is truly amazing.
The problem with natural rattan, however, stems from its durability. Because it is made of a 100 per cent natural fibre without much treatment, true rattan furniture is subject to weathering and rot. This makes the high price of natural rattan furniture an unwise investment if it is intended for outdoor use. Instead, garden rattan furniture is generally made of high-quality plastics which are designed to look and feel like natural rattan with the added benefit of increased durability and performance.
The three most common materials used for the manufacturing of rattan furniture are High Density Polyethylene (HDPE or PE), Polyurethane (PU), and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Because of the common element of all these materials (the “poly”) they are collectively referred to as Poly Rattan to differentiate them from natural rattan. The table below will give readers a general idea of the differences between each of these types of plastic-based materials.
The outdoor furnishings which you select for your garden or patio need to be welcoming, relaxing, and to project an image of elegance and charm. More and more people are finding that nothing enhances their outdoor space as perfectly as rattan garden furniture. It comes in an almost infinite range of designs, it’s incredibly versatile, and it adds a touch of style to even the most ordinary patio or lawn.