Long a staple of porches in warm and sunny climes, furniture made from woven, natural materials is an enduring favorite for homeowners across the US. But is it a good choice here in southern California? And what is the difference between the two anyway? Read on for our guide to rattan vs wicker and which you might prefer for your luxury backyard oasis.
Rattan vs Wicker: Defining Each
Although many people use the two terms interchangeably, they are not at all the same things. Rattan is a type of material while wicker is a type of weave.
Rattan material is often used in woven wicker pieces. The word rattan refers to a fibrous plant akin to bamboo. It has long been a favorite for outdoor furniture due to its strength, durability, flexibility and attractive looks. Natural rattan, however, is rarely used in modern outdoor furniture manufacturing because the process of removing stalks from the plants causes them to wither. Today there are plenty of synthetic materials that emulate the good looks of rattan while being a more environmentally friendly alternative to real rattan material.
Wicker is a process of weaving that has been in use since ancient Egypt times. It is common to find wicker rattan outdoor furnishings because rattan material lends itself perfectly to the wicker method of weaving. Wicker does not, however, require the use of rattan. Wicker can be used with a number of materials, such as willow branches, reeds and bamboo stalks.
Modern Wicker and Rattan Furniture
Today, many outdoor furniture makers turn to synthetic resins, polyethylene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or HDPE (high density polyethylene) to emulate the look of rattan material that has been woven. This makes modern rattan furniture very durable and easy to maintain, plus it is lightweight. For southern California homeowners, all these are benefits – except when a strong wind blows in off the ocean, sending these pieces flying across the yard.
Most often, our customers are looking for rattan bar stools or a rattan chair for their backyards, patios or pool decks. Synthetic wicker rattan is comfortable to sit on and doesn’t absorb heat the way metal furnishings do. If it gets dirty, a quick scrub with a mild cleaning agent and rinse are all it takes to get it looking brand new again.
Rattan bar stools, such as the counter height stools from Tommy Bahama Outdoor pictured above, are a natural in the southern California environment. They evoke images of a luxurious island escape which you can recreate right in your own backyard. The synthetic resin rattan is fade resistant and stands up well to all types of weather.
For a rattan chair with lots of style, the Island Estate Lanai lounge chair shown here is an excellent choice for our climate and the laid-back vibe of our lifestyle. The matching ottoman and side table form a pleasant seating arrangement of wicker rattan furniture sure to hold a treasured spot in your backyard oasis. A rattan chair can be used with or without cushions, but this lounge chair is extremely comfortable due to the deep cushions included.
In the case for rattan vs wicker, both the synthetic rattan material and the wicker type of woven frames make great outdoor furnishings that look right at home in southern California.