Article by Nick Rinylo
Rattan furniture appears to be “having a moment”. In April, “rattan garden furniture” attracted a peak number of searches – 823,000 – on Google, and this furniture makes a strong case for itself at a time when being out in the open air has probably never felt more important for our general health.
There have even been stories of rattan furniture stock running low recently, making it feel like an increasingly valuable commodity. However, if you are going to spend on rattan furniture, you will naturally want it to deliver you good value for money – including over the longer term.
If you’ve already been conducting online research into rattan furniture, you have probably seen the word “durable” pop up quite a lot. However, does rattan furniture really live up its reputation for strength and resilience, or is “durable” more of a buzzword in this case?
How rattan furniture is made
The word “rattan” for furniture is derived from the Old World climbing palms from which the rattan material – a type of wood – is sourced. While rattan furniture can often look as though it is machine-manufactured, it is actually crafted by hand, albeit in a pretty thorough way.
The furniture itself doesn’t entirely consist of rattan, as the vertical strands of rattan are woven around an aluminium frame that has been powder-coated to help prevent corrosion. As more of the horizontal strands are weaved, the furniture grows denser and, eventually, close to solid.
Nonetheless, the exact density of the finished work can depend on the quality of the rattan as well as how skilfully it is weaved. This is why we regularly try to find new ways of improving our rattan-weaving techniques – not to mention why we do not always limit ourselves to natural rattan.
When plastic can be truly fantastic
While furniture made from natural rattan is often visually appealing, this particular quality doesn’t tend to last long if the furniture is exposed to harsh elements like rain or frost. You could find it a hassle to have to keep remembering to cover or stash away this furniture as the weather worsens.
Consequently, a market has opened up for synthetic rattan fibres that preserve the look of organic rattan but don’t disintegrate if left outdoors on a stormy day. Usually, synthetic rattan is made from one of two materials: HDPE or PVC.
Yes, these acronyms look like the names of driving schools – but HDPE refers to high-density polyethylene, while PVC is polyvinyl chloride. Rattan furniture made from either material can stay intact for at least ten years, though how the furniture has been assembled will also play a part.
You should be wary of rattan furniture where nails have been used to fix the material into place, as these nails could be the first failure points that emerge in the furniture – for example, due to rust.
Could the colour of your rattan furniture fade?
We offer a wide range of outdoor rattan furniture built for use in various open-air settings, such as on lawns and beside swimming pools. So, you might feel relatively comfortable with leaving this furniture outside for extended periods of time – especially during sunny weather.
Nonetheless, you might have heard on the grapevine that sunlight’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can play havoc with the colour of rattan. We’ll put your mind at rest here – as, in creating our rattan furniture pieces, we routinely give them their own in-built “sunscreen” in the form of UV protection.
We achieve this via a process called “mono extrusion” – where, for each piece of rattan furniture, we produce a solid weave rather than leave the furniture hollow in the middle. As a result, the rattan’s colour stays stable – and the material is also less likely to crack or split.
You should be concerned if rattan furniture is made using “dual extrusion”, which fails to deliver even half of the same UV protection. Hence, the furniture’s hue could easily fade sooner.
Should you worry if your rattan furniture gets wet?
As wet conditions can be a big problem for natural rattan furniture pieces, you should make sure you cover these with waterproof cushions if those conditions threaten to emerge – for example, if the weather forecast warns of rain or your kids will be splashing about in a nearby swimming pool.
However, the wet stuff is less of a problem with synthetic rattan furniture. If it does get drenched for any reason, the water might be absorbed by the fabric and re-emerge as you sit on it, but the furniture probably won’t incur any permanent damage.
If you are thinking of kitting out your outdoor space with rattan furniture, take heart that we offer a significant range, including corner sofas, footstools, hanging chairs, loungers and hospitality tables.