Monday is the first day of spring and our thoughts turn to living outside as soon as the sun warms us. Spring is also the time when we go out on our deck and assess the winter rain and snow damage. For many of us after we refinish the deck and replant the planters with colorful flowers, we realize that the outdoor furniture is looking a little shabby. Rather than take that high-gas price road trip, we decide to shop for new deck furniture. The home décor magazines stimulate us with pictures of rattan garden furniture in light and dark shades.
A little research reveals that rattan and wicker are used, interchangeably. People may say they have rattan furniture or a wicker chair. They shouldn’t be confused. Rattan is a relative of the tropical palm tree that grows along the ground. The vines can be as long as 500 feet long. There is no material on Earth called wicker. Wicker is the result of weaving rattan or some other fiber to form furniture.
Rattan is considered to be one of the strongest woods available, since its grain grows vertically instead of forming the concentric rings of most other hardwoods. Rattan vines may also be peeled mechanically to form thin slats for weaving. The straight rattan is usually steamed and then bent into the desired shape through the use of specialized shapers. Once the rattan has dried, it will retain its shape forever.
Rattan is ideal for outdoor use, because it is lightweight and easy to clean. Just wipe it down with a cloth dipped in warm-soapy water. However, synthetic rattan should be considered, if the furniture will be out in the rain. Rain will ruin natural rattan.
rattan cube set. The Cube Four set is a modern four-seater dining set that packs away in to a neat cube form. The Seville Sofa set pictured here includes a rattan sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table.