Wicker vs Rattan: What is Best for Garden Furniture?

When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture, the options can be overwhelming. Among the various materials available, rattan and wicker are two popular choices that often cause confusion. While the terms are often used interchangeably, it's important to understand the differences between rattan and wicker to make an informed decision for your outdoor space. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the characteristics, pros and cons, and design possibilities of rattan and wicker furniture, helping you choose the best option for your patio.


Understanding Rattan and Wicker

Rattan: Rattan is a natural material derived from the stems of palm plants found in tropical regions such as Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is known for its flexibility, durability, and natural beauty. Rattan has been used for centuries to create a wide range of furniture and household goods due to its strength and ability to be woven into intricate designs. It is typically harvested and processed to remove the outer bark, leaving behind a solid stem that can be shaped and woven.

Wicker: Wicker, on the other hand, refers to a weaving technique rather than a material. It involves weaving pliable materials such as rattan, reed, bamboo, or synthetic fibers to create furniture or decorative items. Wicker furniture can be made from various materials, including natural rattan or synthetic materials like resin or plastic. The weaving technique gives wicker furniture its distinctive look and texture.

Differences Between Rattan and Wicker

Material: The main difference between rattan and wicker lies in the material itself. Rattan refers to the natural stems of palm plants, while wicker is the weaving technique used to create furniture. While rattan can be used to make wicker furniture, wicker furniture can also be made from other materials like reed, bamboo, or synthetic fibers.

Durability: Rattan furniture is known for its durability and longevity. When properly cared for, rattan furniture can last for decades. On the other hand, wicker furniture made from natural materials like rattan or reed may not be as durable as synthetic wicker. Synthetic wicker is designed to withstand outdoor conditions and is often more resistant to damage and fading.

Maintenance: Maintenance requirements differ between rattan and wicker furniture. Rattan furniture requires regular cleaning and occasional oiling to keep it in good condition. Natural wicker furniture may require more maintenance, including protection from moisture and regular cleaning. Synthetic wicker, on the other hand, is generally low-maintenance and easy to clean.

Appearance: Rattan furniture has a natural and organic look, with a warm and inviting aesthetic. It can be left in its natural state or stained and painted to suit different styles. Wicker furniture, on the other hand, can be made to resemble rattan but also offers a wider range of styles, colors, and patterns. Synthetic wicker allows for even more design possibilities, making it a versatile option for different outdoor settings.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Use: Rattan furniture is typically best suited for indoor use, as it may not be as resistant to outdoor elements. Natural wicker furniture also requires more protection from the elements and is better suited for covered outdoor spaces. Synthetic wicker, on the other hand, is designed to withstand outdoor conditions and is a popular choice for outdoor furniture.

Pros and Cons of Rattan Furniture

Rattan furniture offers several advantages and considerations to keep in mind when choosing it for your outdoor space.

Pros of Rattan Furniture:

  1. Natural Beauty and Texture: Rattan furniture has a unique natural beauty and texture that adds warmth and character to any space.

  2. Durability and Longevity: When properly cared for, rattan furniture can last for decades, making it a long-term investment.

  3. Suitable for Hot and Humid Climates: Rattan's natural resilience makes it well-suited for outdoor use in hot and humid climates.

  4. Customizable Appearance: Rattan furniture can be stained or painted to match different styles and preferences.

  5. Sustainable Option: Responsibly sourced rattan can be a sustainable choice, as it is a renewable resource.

Cons of Rattan Furniture:

  1. Higher Cost: Rattan furniture is generally more expensive compared to synthetic wicker options.

  2. Limited Color Palette: Natural rattan furniture is limited to its natural wood tones, which may not suit all design preferences.

  3. Requires Maintenance: Rattan furniture requires regular maintenance, including cleaning and oiling, to keep it in good condition.

  4. Not Suitable for Heavy Rain or Moisture: Rattan furniture is porous and can be damaged by heavy rain or prolonged exposure to moisture.

Pros and Cons of Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture, whether made from natural or synthetic materials, offers its own set of advantages and considerations.

Pros of Wicker Furniture:

  1. Wide Range of Styles and Patterns: Wicker furniture offers a wide range of styles, colors, and patterns, allowing for greater design versatility.

  2. All-Weather Synthetic Options: Synthetic wicker furniture is designed to withstand outdoor conditions, making it a durable choice for outdoor use.

  3. Budget-Friendly Options: Wicker furniture made from synthetic materials is often more affordable compared to natural rattan furniture.

  4. Easy to Add Cushions and Pillows: Wicker furniture's woven design makes it easy to add cushions and pillows for added comfort and style.

  5. Lightweight and Easy to Move: Wicker furniture's lightweight nature makes it easy to rearrange and move around as needed.

Cons of Wicker Furniture:

  1. Not as Durable as Natural Rattan: Wicker furniture made from natural materials like rattan may not be as durable as synthetic wicker options.

  2. Fading Over Time: Some synthetic wicker materials may fade over time when exposed to prolonged sunlight.

  3. Requires Maintenance: Natural wicker furniture requires regular maintenance to protect it from moisture and keep it in good condition.

  4. Loose Weave Can Trap Debris: The loose weave of wicker furniture can trap dirt and debris, requiring more frequent cleaning.

Choosing Between Rattan and Wicker Furniture

When deciding between rattan and wicker furniture for your outdoor space, consider the following factors:

Indoor vs. Outdoor Use: Determine whether you need furniture specifically designed for outdoor use. If you're looking for outdoor furniture, synthetic wicker may be a better choice due to its weather-resistant properties.

Budget: Consider your budget and the cost of the furniture. Rattan furniture tends to be more expensive than synthetic wicker options.

Design Preferences: Think about the style and aesthetic you want to achieve. Rattan furniture offers a natural and organic look, while wicker furniture provides a wider range of styles, colors, and patterns.

Maintenance: Consider the level of maintenance you're willing to undertake. Natural rattan furniture requires more maintenance compared to synthetic wicker.

Longevity: If you're looking for long-term investment furniture, rattan furniture may be a better choice due to its durability and longevity.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs, style preferences, and budget.

Designing Your Outdoor Space with Rattan and Wicker Furniture

Once you've chosen between rattan and wicker furniture, it's time to design your outdoor space. Here are some design ideas and suggestions for incorporating rattan and wicker furniture into your patio layout:

Al Fresco Dining: Create a welcoming dining area with a rattan or wicker dining set. Choose a table shape that suits your space, such as rectangular, square, or round, and opt for chairs with comfortable cushions.

Entertaining: Set up a wicker or rattan bar set for outdoor entertaining. A tall table, bar stools, and a mobile bar cart create a relaxed atmosphere for hosting outdoor cocktail parties.

Outdoor Lounging: Make your outdoor space comfortable and inviting with a rattan sectional or loveseat. Add a wicker chair, glider, or rocker to create a cozy spot for relaxation.

Poolside Relaxation: Enhance your pool area with rattan and wicker furniture. Consider adding chaise lounges, daybeds, and storage bins for a stylish and functional poolside oasis.

Style Suggestions: Rattan and wicker furniture complement various decorating styles. For a coastal or rustic look, opt for low-profile wicker sectionals or loveseats. In bohemian or eclectic-style spaces, blend rattan club chairs, coffee tables, and palm frond-print rugs. For a contemporary touch, choose wicker lounge chairs with sleek metal frames.

Color Selection: Both rattan and wicker furniture come in various finishes and colors. Consider rich brown tones for a natural and organic look, or opt for black or white shades for a more sophisticated aesthetic. Warm hues or cool colors can add vibrancy or calmness to your outdoor space.

Accessories and Decor: Complete your outdoor design with rattan or wicker accessories. Add wicker fire pits, heaters, baskets, and light fixtures for a cohesive and stylish look. Incorporate small wicker accents like serving trays, placemats, and outdoor planters.

By incorporating these design ideas and suggestions, you can create a beautiful and inviting outdoor space using rattan and wicker furniture.


  1. Is wicker or rattan better for outdoor furniture?

    • Rattan is often preferred for outdoor furniture due to its natural durability and weather-resistant properties.
  2. Is rattan good for garden furniture?

    • Yes, rattan is a good choice for garden furniture as it is durable and can withstand outdoor conditions.
  3. Can wicker garden furniture be left outside?

    • Wicker garden furniture can be left outside, but it's advisable to use weather-resistant materials and cover it during harsh conditions for prolonged lifespan.
  4. What type of wicker is best for outdoors?

    • Synthetic or resin wicker is best for outdoors as it withstands weather conditions better than natural wicker.
  5. Which is more expensive, rattan or wicker?

    • Rattan is generally more expensive than wicker due to its natural origin and intricate weaving process.


When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture, understanding the differences between rattan and wicker is essential. Rattan furniture offers natural beauty, durability, and customization options but requires more maintenance. Wicker furniture, whether made from natural or synthetic materials, provides a wide range of styles, affordability, and ease of maintenance. By considering factors such as indoor vs. outdoor use, budget, design preferences, maintenance requirements, and longevity, you can confidently choose between rattan and wicker furniture for your patio. With careful consideration and thoughtful design, you can create a stylish and inviting outdoor space that suits your personal taste and lifestyle.

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