Rattan and Wicker: What’s the difference?

By: Wacky Brown
Many people are confused with “rattan” and “wicker.” If you’re one of those who interchange the terms, it’s time to know the difference between the two.

The distinction is “rattan” is the material while “wicker” pertains to the process. Rattan is a kind of wood that has vertical grain. Wicker, on the other hand, refers to the end product made with a specific weaving style.

Rattan is from the tropical palm tree family that grows in the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia. The plant grows upwards and then bends to the ground. Its vines snake through rainforests like how typical vines grow. They’re cut into 12-18 foot sections and dried.

Rattan is a strong material because of its vertical grain. It’s unlike many hardwoods that form concentric rings. Most manufacturers steam the raw materials and bend to their desired shapes using specialized shapers. These are usually used to form the frames of what will become a piece of wicker furniture. The results are lightweight but solid and durable pieces that may last for years.

Other than rattan, there are other types of natural fibers used to manufacture beautiful wicker furniture. Some good examples are bamboo, reed, and willow wood. Most are dipped in special coating to lessen the chances of flaking, cracking, and fading of the furniture.

Natural fibers used in wicker furniture are flexible, allowing manufacturers to easily form them. This is why it’s possible to come up with almost any shape for the wicker pieces.

The natural appeal of wicker furniture makes them best for outdoor settings. Their unique qualities and texture makes them excellent accents in homes, cafes, restaurant, resorts, and spas. The natural fibers used in wicker may also be used to make other items such as lampshades, chests, porch swings, baby bassinets and carriages.

Visit Wicker Works showrooms today to find fine pieces for your home and patio.