What is rattan furniture?

High-end and aesthetically pleasing form of outdoor furniture that has long been a staple in UK gardens, rattan tables and chairs are stylish and timeless patio essentials.

However, despite its popularity, there can be confusion around what rattan furniture actually is - what it is made from, how it is manufactured, and even if it actually makes for comfortable outdoor furniture. In this article, we look into rattan in detail, giving you all the information you need when it comes to this perennial furniture favourite.

What is rattan garden furniture?

Put simply, rattan furniture refers to tables, chairs and other large movable objects made from the plant material known as rattan, typically using a wicker weave method.

Grown in hot tropical areas, such as regions of Asia, Africa and Australasia, the many different species of rattan are part of the palm family. They feature impressive weatherproof properties that provide protection against a range of natural elements, including rain, moist/humid environments and even UV rays. Naturally, this makes this material perfect for outdoor furniture.

Additionally, when chopped down and worked into a suitable crafting material, rattan represents an extremely durable substance that is both lightweight and flexible - ideal for weaving and manipulating into complex and stylish items of garden furniture.

What is rattan garden furniture made of?

Although, as discussed above, traditional rattan garden furniture is still made from the natural rattan palms using a wicker weave, synthetic rattan furniture is now also a common sight in UK gardens.

While traditional rattan furniture is made from rattan material with a wicker weave - which creates a durable and weatherproof item - synthetic rattan is crafted from a resin that is specially manufactured to resemble the real thing. This synthetic material does have a number of advantages, including typically being much cheaper than real rattan, however it doesn't tend to offer the same wide-ranging natural benefits that rattan can provide, including weatherproof and UV resistant properties.

How rattan furniture is made

Regardless of whether you opt for authentic rattan furniture or items made from synthetic alternatives, the chances are both were manufactured in the same way.

Firstly, a frame for the item is made. This is typically made from a strong yet lightweight metal, such as aluminium. Vertical strands of rattan/synthetic rattan are then fixed to the frame using furniture staples. Next, horizontal stands are woven in and out of the vertical stands and fixed into place at each end using stapes. The chair or table is then complete when the entire frame is covered by the weave.

Although traditional rattan furniture is usually handmade by a skilled weaver who can create complex weaves with long-established methods and basic tools, modern synthetic rattan replicas tend to be made by an industrial weaving machine.

Are rattan chairs comfortable?

Rattan chairs are deceptively comfy, and much more comfortable than other outdoor alternatives such as wooden benches and fabric camping chairs. This is because the weaved seat of a rattan chair is designed to take the shape of your body when you sit down, cradling your weight evenly to provide a comfortable platform. This is something that also improves as time goes by, as the weave loosens over time to provide even more comfort.

To boost your comfort levels, you can always add cushions. The minimal design of traditional rattan furniture means finding the perfect cushions for your garden furniture is simple and relatively inexpensive. Some rattan furniture sets even come complete with their own matching cushions.

All in all, rattan items make for great outdoor furniture. Whether you’re looking for a large lounge set or simply a small bistro table and chairs in the rattan style, we hope that this guide helps you to make an informed decision when it comes to these patio essentials.