Rattan & Wicker Furniture Guide- Answers to FAQs

A large golden wicker sofa with chequered cushions

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Rattan and Wicker Furniture FAQs

Wicker and rattan furniture are common in gardens, porches, and sunroom furniture. It’s popular because it’s inexpensive, lightweight, and long-lasting with proper maintenance. With its popularity growing, more customers are asking questions about the product as they explore rattan and wicker. This article will answer your frequently asked questions about rattan and wicker furniture.

What Materials is Wicker Furniture Made Of?

Wicker furniture typically uses either natural materials or synthetic mimics; natural materials used in wicker furniture range from classic rattan and bamboo to reed and willow strips. Synthetic materials used in wicker materials include resin, nylon, or vinyl.

Genuine rattan furniture uses materials from the calamus rotang L. or rotan plant. Authentic rattan furniture uses the pliable stem of the plant as both the frame and the woven surfaces of wicker furniture. Bamboo, reed, and willow are often used in place of rattan.

Synthetic materials like resin and vinyl are sturdier, usually less expensive, and better suited for outdoor use than natural materials.

What is Paper Fibre Wicker?

Paper fibre wicker utilises an artificial material similar to natural fibres. However, it more closely resembles natural materials in its appearance. Paper fibre wicker consists of a highly-processed paper product turned into a continuous rope or chord perfect for weaving.

Can You Tell the Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Rattan?

At first glance, synthetic and natural wicker can appear the same. However, there are several notable differences between them if you know what to look for.


Even the best synthetic wicker will feel like plastic when touched. Touching wicker furniture will usually tell you whether it is artificial or natural.


The second way to tell if wicker is synthetic or natural is its appearance. Natural materials are typically matte unless painted or stained.

Can Wicker Furniture Stay Out in the Winter?

Whether your wicker furniture can stay out all winter depends on its materials. 

Natural Rattan

Natural-based wicker furniture should not stay outside in the winter and usually does best as indoor furniture in a garden room.

Synthetic Rattan

Synthetic materials like nylon do fine in the winter, provided you take precautions. Synthetic materials won’t fade quickly or retain water damage from winter weather. However, after prolonged exposure, synthetic materials can fade or warp. Therefore, it’s best to cover your furniture with waterproof covers and store cushions away for the winter.

Is Wicker Furniture Waterproof?

As a rule, natural and paper fibre wicker furniture is not waterproof. However, synthetic wicker furniture can withstand water exposure for extended periods. But water can damage and deteriorate even the best of synthetic materials. Additionally, dyed wicker furniture will be more fade resistant than paint.

Finally, it’s essential to know the frame material of your furniture. Non-weatherised metals will rust when exposed to water. But, all-weather materials like stainless steel and aluminium will survive cold and wet environments.

How Can I Avoid Mould and Mildew in Rattan Furniture?

Reducing water exposure is the best way to avoid mould and mildew in rattan and other natural-based wicker furniture. Keep your furniture away from humid environments, rain, and snow. Store your furniture in dry environments, away from open windows.

Can I Replace Damaged Reeds in Wicker Furniture?

In many scenarios, you can repair damaged wicker furniture. If you don’t mind a bit of weaving, you can usually repair minor damage yourself. But, more extensive damage may require a professional.

If you want to attempt repairing your furniture yourself, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Identify the extent and location of the damage.
  2. Identify the type of reed material. If you are unsure, reach out to the furniture manufacturer or a professional at your local furniture repair shop.
  3. Obtain a matching reed from the original manufacturer if possible – if not, find the closest match. You’ll also need a wicker weaving tool.
  4. Photograph the pattern.
  5. Remove the broken reeds.
  6. Insert and weave the new reed to match the previously photographed pattern.
  7. Finally, stain and seal the completed pattern. If you’ve repaired a natural wicker, ensure you stain and seal immediately to prevent additional damage.

Keep in mind that wicker and rattan furniture can have very complicated patterns. Contact a professional furniture repair shop for assistance if you feel the least bit uncertain about the pattern or repairing the furniture.

Can I Refinish Scratched Wicker Furniture?

Scratches are bound to happen with wicker furniture, particularly in homes with children or pets. However, you can usually repaint or restore scratched wicker furniture with sanding, staining, and painting. Note, if your furniture material is dyed resin, not painted or stained, you’ll have to replace the dyed reeds to fix any scratches. However, you can paint over the reeds to hide the stain if you choose.

Can I Restore Overly Dried-Out Rattan?

Rattan and other natural wicker materials can crack and dry out over time. However, you can usually repair and revitalise the rattan if the damage is not too significant. Before starting your restoration, ensure you’ve cleaned the rattan first. 

To restore dried-out natural wicker, you need to rehydrate the reeds. You can use thin layers of linseed oil, beeswax, or teak oil to rehydrate the wicker. Teak and linseed oil will add a lovely lustre to the furniture. 

However, it’s important to note that synthetic wicker does not benefit from oil or beeswax. Instead, you can spray a few layers of WD40 to reduce creaking in the materials.

How Do I Clean and Maintain Rattan Furniture?

Cleaning wicker furniture is relatively easy. You’ll need a dust cloth or feather duster, mild soap, a sponge, and clean water. First, you’ll want to dust the furniture and remove any grime or dirt. Then, gently clean the reeds with soapy water before rinsing them with a clean washcloth. Repeat as needed. Regularly cleaning will help preserve natural and synthetic wicker furniture’s appearance and longevity.


Rattan furniture is a classic choice for indoor and outdoor use. Armed with the information above, you can rest assured that you have the knowledge to care for your wicker furniture for years to come.