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Difference Unveiled: Wicker vs Rattan vs All-Weather Wicker

Outdoor furniture plays a crucial role in transforming outdoor spaces into functional and stylish living areas. Whether you have a spacious backyard, a cozy balcony, or a compact patio, the right outdoor furniture can enhance your comfort, relaxation, and entertainment experiences.

When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture, you have tons of options to choose from – wrought iron, aluminum, plastic, rattan, wood, and so on.

Finding the best option for your outdoor furniture can be difficult with so many choices. Adding to this is the fact that some options — like rattan vs. wicker — end up causing even more confusion. So, what’s the difference, and what’s the best wicker to choose?

In this article, we’ll discuss all things wicker so you can make the best decision for your outdoor space.

A View of Patio


First and foremost is the need to understand the difference between wicker and rattan. These terms are usually used interchangeably when in fact, they are different in meaning to each other.

Rattan is a natural material obtained from the stems of various climbing palms. These stems are strong, flexible, and lightweight, making them ideal for furniture construction. The outer skin of the rattan plant is peeled and used for weaving, while the inner core is often used for making sturdy frames.

Wicker, on the other hand, is not a material itself; rather, it refers to the weaving technique used to create furniture.  It involves weaving flexible materials like rattan, bamboo, reed, or even synthetic fibers over a frame. The weave can be simple or intricate, creating various patterns and textures.

Not all wicker furniture is made from rattan, and even rattan itself is comprised of over 600 species. Plus, other materials will provide drastic differences in the appearance and overall structure of the final product.

Now, since the basic difference has been understood, let’s dig deeper into wicker, rattan, and all-weather wicker to see what sets them apart.


Widespread in tropical areas such as Asia, Africa, and Australia, rattan is a palm species recognized for its natural inclination to grow at significant heights. In its initial historical applications, rattan gained popularity for its ease of cultivation, harvesting, and transportation when compared to timber.

The inherent qualities of rattan, characterized by its lightweight, durable, and flexible nature, make it highly adaptable for various purposes. Among its noteworthy uses is the creation of wicker baskets, a ubiquitous item found in nearly every modern household in some form.

Texture background of wicker baskets made from natural materials.


Wicker, a weaving technique used to create furniture and other objects, boasts a long and fascinating history. Though evidence suggests its use dates back thousands of years, wicker didn’t truly capture global attention until the Victorian Era in Europe during the 1800s.

Before its rise to fame, wicker was simply a technique, not a specific style of furniture. It involved weaving strong and flexible materials, such as rattan, into various forms. These woven creations, from baskets to chairs, were primarily functional objects.

As wicker’s popularity grew and eventually crossed the Atlantic to the United States, the materials used for its construction began to diversify. While rattan remained a popular choice, other materials like bamboo, willow, and even synthetic fibers gained traction. This shift led to the decoupling of the weaving technique and the specific material used. The term “wicker,” originally just a method, became synonymous with the style of furniture itself, regardless of the material used.

Today, wicker furniture remains a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor settings. Its versatility, durability, and timeless aesthetic continue to inspire designers and homeowners alike. Whether you prefer the classic charm of natural rattan or the modern appeal of synthetic materials, wicker offers endless possibilities for creating beautiful and functional spaces.


Perusing various marketplaces at random reveals an array of wicker products crafted from a diverse range of both natural and human-made materials. Whether it’s furniture, baskets, or hats, both categories continue to enjoy widespread use today.

There are two main types of wicker – natural and all-weather. Understanding the differences between these two types can help you choose the best option for your needs.

Natural Wicker:

  • Material: Natural wicker is made from organic materials like rattan, bamboo, or willow. Rattan is the most common material used for natural wicker furniture, as it is strong, flexible, and lightweight.
  • Appearance: Natural wicker has a natural, earthy look with subtle variations in color and texture. The exact appearance will depend on the type of material used and the weaving technique.
  • Durability: Natural wicker is moderately durable, but it is not as resistant to moisture, sunlight, and extreme temperatures as all-weather wicker. It requires regular maintenance, such as cleaning and applying protective coatings, to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
  • Pros: Natural wicker is a natural and sustainable material. It is also lightweight and easy to move. Additionally, the natural variations in color and texture can add a unique and organic element to your décor.
  • Cons: Natural wicker is not as durable as all-weather wicker and requires more maintenance. It can also be more expensive than all-weather wicker.
  • Best for: Indoor use or sheltered outdoor areas.

All-Weather Wicker:

  • Material: All-weather wicker is made from synthetic materials, typically high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene. These materials are designed to resemble natural wicker while offering improved durability and weather resistance.
  • Appearance: All-weather wicker can be made to look very similar to natural wicker, or it can be available in a wider range of colors and finishes.
  • Durability: All-weather wicker is highly durable and can withstand moisture, sunlight, and extreme temperatures. It requires minimal maintenance and is easy to clean.
  • Pros: All-weather wicker is more durable and requires less maintenance than natural wicker. It is also available in a wider range of colors and finishes.
  • Cons: All-weather wicker is not as natural-looking as natural wicker and may not have the same unique variations in color and texture. It can also be slightly more expensive than natural wicker.
  • Best for: Outdoor use or high-traffic areas.
Textured Background


The best type of wicker for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

Where will the furniture be used? If you plan to use the furniture outdoors, all-weather wicker is the better choice.

How much maintenance are you willing to do? Natural wicker requires regular maintenance, while all-weather wicker requires minimal maintenance.

What is your budget? All-weather wicker is typically more expensive than natural wicker.

What style are you trying to achieve? If you want a natural, earthy look, natural wicker is the way to go. If you prefer a more modern look, an all-weather wicker may be a better option.

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