Thursday, May 17, 2018

What is the Difference Between Wicker and Rattan

Ask many interior designers and furniture salespeople what is the difference between wicker and rattan, and you will get puzzled looks. Many think the terms are interchangeable. Not so fast grasshopper.                                  
Wicker is not a material. There is no material on Earth called wicker. Wicker is an ancient technique or process used to manufacture items out of natural materials, such as willow, rush, bamboo, rattan, and synthetic resins. The natural materials are made wet so that they can be easily woven to create wicker design furniture pieces. Some manufacturers may use the phrase cane furniture in place of either rattan or wicker furniture. Loomed wicker is another type of wicker furniture. As the name suggests, loomed wicker is made mechanically. It uses tightly twisted Hemp paper that looks like rope. This rope-like material is then woven by the machine into a wicker fabric. The loomed wicker material is then coated completely on both sides with a flexible latex paint.   
Rattan is a specific natural material. Unlike the bamboo pole which is hollow, rattan boasts a strong core and is thus durable and even hard to break.  In its original form, rattan is a relative of the tropical palm tree. Rattan starts to grow upwards like a tree but then bends back to the ground and snakes through the rainforest like a vine. After a few years of growth, the rattan vines can be as long as 500 feet. When harvested they are cut into 12 to 18-foot sections.
The solid core of rattan along with vertical grains is generally 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. The outside skin of the rattan pole, which is the peel, is generally used to bind the furniture joints together.
Rattan vines may also be peeled mechanically to form thin slats for weaving. The curved outer layer is also used as a decorative trim to hide the rough seams created by the wicker process.  The rattan poles can also be put into a machine that cuts the rattan lengthwise into spaghetti-like shapes.
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.  With over 600 different species, Rattan comes in a variety of natural colors, and the color is dependent on the soils where the rattan grows, generally in Southeast Asia. That means that no two pieces of wicker furniture made from rattan are alike. Rattan has been used for furniture because it is lightweight, durable, flexible, and attractive. At Wicker Home & Patio Furniture, we offer 20 different frame finishes that will fit with any d├ęcor.

Rattan furniture is best used indoors. Sun and rain are hard on rattan if it spends too much time outside. For the outdoors, we invite you to look at our outdoor wicker furniture.