Do You Know the Difference Between Wicker and Rattan?

Wikimedia Commons-Baao Rattan

When you go shopping for that beautiful outdoor patio set, have you ever given a second thought whether you’re buying a Rattan or Wicker set? Probably not, because most people often confuse the two, but rattan and wicker are two distinctly different things.

Specifically, wicker refers to the weaving process for a multitude of products like furniture, baskets and assorted items while rattan is a particular type of material that is bendable, shaped and woven to create these products.



The materials used in the wicker process of weaving and interlacing flexible material to create a stiffer, more rigid item can include Reed, Bamboo, Cane and Rattan. Items made out of these natural materials are especially strong and long lasting.

Wicker can also use a number of artificial materials such as resin, plastics and high steel tensile wire that is wrapped in plastic. These man-made materials are non-porous, which makes them ideal for outdoor use since they can hold-up against environmental fluctuations and moisture. Since Rattan and other natural materials are porous and susceptible to weather conditions, they will eventually deteriorate and need to be replaced over time.


Rattan is a type of vine that grows in the rain forest. There are over 600 species of rattan and it’s relatively easy to harvest. Most of the rattan used in product manufacturing originates from Malaysia, Indonesian and Southeast Asia. Although rattan has similarities to wood, but unlike bamboo or cane which is hollow, and reed which is less strong, rattan vines are solid throughout, making it a very tough and durable material.

Some of its main characteristics include strength, pliability, retention of shape and availability. Because of these traits, rattan has a long history in furniture production, particularly because rattan is very resistant to splintering. It is a highly attractive material since it readily accepts paints and stains, so it comes in many attractive colours for the numerous products that are manufactured.

Finally, since wicker furniture is shaped into a stiff form, most buyers will add colourful chair cushions to provide more comfortable seating. So, the next time you go shopping for outdoor patio furniture, rattan furniture will be what you are purchasing and wicker in the method by which it was made. Happy shopping!


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