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Wicker 101: What Not To Buy

Posted by on October 11th, 2018

Buying wicker furniture can be an intimidating process when considering the different price ranges, materials, and designs. Due to the complexity of the industry, we encourage you to conduct your own research before purchasing wicker furniture. It’s important to consider your options so you end up with the right fit for you. We’re here to help guide you through that journey to better equip you with the knowledge you’ll need to purchase the best wicker furniture for your home and business.

Wicker VS Rattan

Many people get confused when reading the materials used for wicker furniture and they see words such as cane, rattan, wicker, and polyethylene. On a broader scale, wicker refers to the construction of the material, meaning the small strands of material are woven together in a pattern. Rattan is the material most wicker furniture is made out of. Originating in Southeast Asia, Rattan is a tropical palm tree that eventually bends towards the ground like vines. Over time, the branches begin to snake through the ground. Rattan is one of the strongest woods available, which is why it makes such durable furniture. Rattan and bamboo are two different materials. Bamboo is not bendable and is hollow at its cores therefore not generally used for furniture. Rattan is solid at its core and is bendable with heat. When you see the word “polyethylene”, it typically refers to a synthetic form of rattan that is lighter and more resistant to UV damage. Many people opt for the synthetic option to fight against the exploitation of the world’s natural rattan sources.

Weak frames

Aluminum is an extremely common metal used in wicker furniture for the framing. While steel is also used, aluminum won’t rust and will hold its strong structure. Your aluminum frame may oxidize over time, but this won’t compromise the integrity of the frame. When using an aluminum frame, consider opting for powder coating if possible. This is a process that helps maintain and protect outdoor furniture from the elements. It’s environmentally safe, and extremely durable. While mostly a cosmetic process, utilizing powder coating, especially for outdoor wicker furniture, can ensure that your piece won’t face corrosion or discoloration. At the Wickery, we only sell aluminum frames as they’re guaranteed not to rust or corrode.

Poorly woven furniture

There are two factors in considering outdoor wicker furniture: the actual material used and the craftsmanship of the weave itself. The most important factor in your consideration should be the grade of vinyl.

At The Wickery, we carry mid to high end vinyl wicker furniture. Many of the materials used in the lower-end brands and at discount stores add “fillers” to the vinyl to reduce cost, thereby reducing the wearability and shelf-life of the piece. After exposure to sun and other outdoor elements, outdoor wicker containing these fillers will disintegrate. Our mid-level outdoor wicker furniture lasts about ten years while our high end will hold out for fifteen years or longer! Brands such as Lloyd Flanders and Lane Venture are made with 100% virgin vinyl with no added fillers. In addition, UV inhibitors are added to protect from the sun.

While this should go without saying: when purchasing woven furniture, you need to carefully examine the woven work to ensure quality pieces. Unless your online purchase is through a reputable source who you’ve conducted business with before, look for poorly woven sections of furniture when purchasing a piece, and be sure to inspect your furniture as soon as it ships to you. Skilled weavers practice tight and straight woven patterns, while those with less skill or who rush their work will end up with looser and sometimes crooked lines. When wicker is loose, places like the center of the seat and the armrest will begin to sag, wear out, and may cause discomfort during use. After examining its lines, don’t forget to look underneath your furniture. Proper wicker furniture will use the same material throughout the piece, while less expensive options may supplement with other, cheaper materials. If crafted correctly, your wicker furniture should provide plenty of support and last for years to come.

Consider cushioning

While cushions and fabric can always be replaced if needed, choosing a piece with proper cushioning and fabric can make your life easier in the long run. Most importantly, it is cheaper to pay for an upgraded fabric when you first buy your furniture than to replace cushions and covers a few years later. For outdoor and very sunny rooms, Sunbrella is the gold standard. Sunbrella fabric is fade, mold, and mildew resistant for up to five years. Traditionally, wicker furniture either comes with sandwich foam covered with dacron or regular foam sponge cushions. The sandwiched cushions provide sturdiness and durability, while the regular sponge cushions are less expensive, but might need to be replaced more frequently. Consult your wicker professionals for what cushions are right for your space as they can help guide your selection.

Remember that when choosing wicker furniture, it’s important to consider the material and structure in order to ensure durability and comfortably. Here at the Wickery, we love to help guide people through their buying journey, and will happily answer any questions you may have when searching through our wicker pieces.

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