What is the best rattan garden furniture?

Rattan garden furniture can be made using natural or synthetic materials (usually PE, PVC or PU rattan).

Real rattan furniture is made from natural tropical plant fibres. Natural rattan is ideal for making furniture because it is strong and pliable. Due to the nature of this natural material, it is generally better suited to home décor products and accessories for indoor use, because it needs to be kept dry. If exposed to damp or wet conditions it can rot or suffer from mildew. Real rattan garden furniture requires a lot of maintenance if using outdoors, as it will need to be stored away after each use.

For these reasons, synthetic all-weather rattan wicker is a much better choice for outdoor use, especially if you are looking for longevity.

So what is synthetic rattan?

Synthetic rattan mimics the look and feel of real rattan, but it’s a man-made fibre that requires a lot less maintenance.

There are three main types of synthetic rattan: Polyethylene (PE), Polyurethane (PU) and Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

All three can withstand British weather, but PE rattan will generally last longer. PE rattan is used more widely today to make quality garden furniture because it is also recyclable. So at the end of its life it can be used to make other plastic products.

Good quality synthetic rattan can be left outside in all weathers and will last for a long time if made with aluminium frames that won’t rust. This way you’ll have a great all-weather garden furniture set that can be left outside whatever the weather. Just remember to check if the cushions supplied with the furniture are weather resistant (some need storing when not in use). If you want to keep any rattan looking like new, we always recommend covering it. This will keep it free of general garden grime, tree sap and nuisance bird droppings.

PE rattan or woven garden furniture is sometimes more expensive than PU and PVC rattan, but that is because it is great quality and generally lasts longer.

What does synthetic rattan look like?

You can still achieve a natural look for your garden by choosing PE rattan synthetic wicker. It is manufactured to imitate the look of a natural rattan product. As such, many more weave sizes, finishes and colours are available than natural rattan.

Look for smooth, hand-woven high quality furniture. With hand-woven rattan, the weave is finished to a high standard and you generally won’t be able to see where the rattan starts or ends, giving the overall finish a neater look.

7 key things to consider when choosing the best rattan garden furniture:

Kettler Palma Wicker Swatch Rattan and Whitewash
  1. Weave Durability: We all like things to last, especially expensive items such as garden furniture. By choosing a synthetic PE rattan (not natural) you can have a set that will last for years. Most good quality manufacturers offer a warranty of at least 3 to 5 years and some offer exceptional warranties like 4 Seasons Outdoor who offer 10 years guarantees on wicker products. By choosing quality PE rattan furniture, you can also do your bit for the environment too, as most PE rattan pieces are recyclable.

2. Weave Colour: Many manufacturers offer different weave colours to enhance outdoor spaces and create a unique style for the garden. Both light and dark weave colours have stood the test of time. For example, Bramblecrest Garden Furniture offer a number of different weave colours such as Prairie, Nutmeg, Sandstone or Dove Grey, but to name a few.

3. Weave Finish: Comfort is key when choosing garden furniture and if you enjoy the smooth tactile finish of woven furniture, then this should be a key consideration, as the finish can vary.

4. Weave Size: Synthetic rattan weave size varies with some being thicker than others. Generally the finer the weave, the smoother the finish. For example, 5mm Hularu wicker is synonymous with top quality and is smooth to touch. If you are looking for something a bit different look, choose an open weave design which can provide you with a striking focal point for the garden.

5. Frame Material: Synthetic rattan will last if it is used in conjunction with a frame that is built to last too. So look out for garden furniture which is made with aluminium frames that won’t rust. Powder-coated frames will also last too.

6. Weave Style: Consider the style of the furniture that you like. PE rattan furniture can be either traditional or contemporary in design with curves or straight lines. And the thickness of wicker can vary and can change the look of garden furniture. Fine weave is extremely elegant and suits traditional woven styles, but equally looks great with contemporary designs. Chunkier weaves can create a more modern take on rattan styles, but again a thicker weave also suits traditional styles. We love Kettler’s Palma woven garden furniture collection which comes with supportive backs and flared armrests and brings a modern twist to traditional rattan woven furniture.

7. Weather Resistance: Being able to withstand the rain, wind and snow is important, but the sun can be equally damaging and so choosing PE rattan with UV stability is important. With many of us choosing a sunny spot for our garden furniture, we do not want it to fade in direct sunlight. So look out for UV stable wicker furniture for added peace of mind.

Supremo Catalan Mini Modular Firepit Set

One last point to consider is whether you can add to your collection. You’ll find that some quality rattan garden furniture brands make coordinating pieces to complete the look of your garden, from woven cocoons to cushion boxes and firepit tables.

So, the best rattan garden furniture should be highly durable and made to last, as well as being eco-friendly and recyclable. It will also reflect your style, whether you prefer traditional smooth weave or modern open weave styles. There are rattan designs to suit every garden and every budget.

Gates Garden Centre stock a number of garden furniture brands that make high quality PE rattan garden furniture, from 4 Seasons Outdoor and Bramblecrest, to Kettler and Supremo. Some come with more all-weather functionality than others (with some cushions being all-weather too), so always check the description to ensure your criteria is met.

For information on other materials used in outdoor furniture, see our blog on this subject: What are the best materials for high quality garden furniture?

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