Polyethylene rattan is an all weather material, making this a great product to choose when shopping for outdoor furniture. Not only does rattan look great, it’s also low maintenance, leaving you with nothing to do in spring and summer except enjoy your furniture with friends and family.
Here at Bali Wicker we’ve spent years and years up to our armpits in rattan furniture. We deal with it every day. We’ve been to the big trade shows and visited the factories.
We have an unbreakable rule to never stock an item we haven’t sat on for a decent amount of time -so we’ve sat on a lot of wicker furniture. We’ve supplied it to homes and businesses around the country. We’ve definitely learnt a thing or two about a thing or two about the stuff!
Our highly discerning corporate buttocks have countless hours of direct experience of what works in wicker and what won’t.
One thing that we have learned very early on is that not all furniture that looks great, sits great... that’s why we take care of grouping the most comfortable selections for you, all you have to ‘worry’ about is deciding which piece fits your identity and living space.
Now that the comfort question is out of the way, lets address some other factors that would assist you in deciding over your first purchase.
Wicker and Rattan: What’s the Difference?
Sometimes customers get confused by the difference between wicker and rattan outdoor furniture.
In broad terms they describe much the same thing. More specifically, wicker refers to the woven construction method by which these items are made, while rattan refers to the material used for weaving. Rattan originally referred to a natural fibre harvested from a family of palms in Southeast Asia. These days we use a more modern, lightweight, synthetic material called polyethylene rattan. At Bali Wicker we use Viro Tech. This material is more resistant to both ultraviolet light and water, and avoids contributing to the over-exploitation of the world’s natural rattan resources. To add to the confusion between the two phrases, synthetic rattan is also sometimes referred to as resin wicker.
Benefits and Characteristics of Polyethylene Rattan
Rattan is not as heavy as teak or other wooden furniture and it doesn’t stain and corrode like aluminium and other metal furniture. You can choose from a wide range of price options, colours and weaves. There are a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to rattan furniture and most
pieces come complete with plush cushions for comfort and style.
Caring for this material
If your rattan does become a little dirty over the cooler months, cleaning this product is simple and hassle free. Use a soft brush to remove any dirt or dust. Wipe down the rattan with a damp cloth using mild soapy water. Rinse using a bucket of cold water or even a hose. We recommend removing the cushions before cleaning and avoid using any chemical cleaners.
We also have to mention the harsh South African sun! We live in a hot country, and products left exposed to the sun will deteriorate over time. We strongly recommend that your rattan furniture is covered when not in use. We supply custom made covers for all outdoor products.
What to look for in Wicker Furniture
There are a few things to look for to get good value for money when shopping for wicker outdoor furniture. Get these things right: it’s well worth your while. Choose items made from quality materials with good workmanship, so you can be sure you’re fitting out your outdoor area with furniture providing relaxation in style and comfort for years to come. Any good wicker will have at least a 2 year guarantee on its wicker and at least 2 years on its frames. If not, it could well mean that you are buying recycled rattan which will fade and get brittle in as little as 2 years.
Aluminium, the second most widely used metal in the world, will not rust! It will oxidise over time, but this won’t compromise the material’s strength. Because it doesn’t rust, aluminium is a popular choice when it comes to manufacturing outdoor furniture frames.
It’s a lightweight material, however some manufacturers use aluminium that is too thin or a poor quality. Look for outdoor furniture built with an aluminium frame with a gauge of at least 1.2mm.
Wicker furniture can also be built with a stainless steel frame to save money. This is still a durable material, however it will rust over time. An aluminium frame is better. At Bali Wicker, we stock wicker furniture with aluminium frames and therefore have a 2 year warranty on all our frames.
Powder coating is a process which helps to maintain and protect outdoor furniture from the elements.
Powder coating is an environmentally safe process, is extremely durable and will help resist chipping, rust or colour fading from the sun. Powder coating is a mostly cosmetic process on wicker furniture built on quality aluminium frames: the uncoated material is already very resistant to corrosion.
When shopping for rattan furniture consider the type of weave you would prefer - flat, narrow round or even half round. Flat rattan is the lightest of the bunch and considered standard amongst the industry. Narrow round rattan uses more rattan in the assembly of the product. The result is a much heavier product that will last a lot longer than the standard flat weave. There’s also a wide range of colours and textures available, so take time to choose a look that will reflect your personal style and enhance your outdoor area.
Some manufacturers use polypropylene rather than polyethylene rattan. This a cheaper but less sturdy material.
Weaving wicker furniture from rattan inevitably produces off-cuts. These off-cuts can be recycled by placing them back in the rattan extruder. Putting this material through the extruder a second time weakens it. While there is nothing wrong with using a small amount of recycled material, too much will create a less sturdy material that is liable to fall apart when all you’re trying to do is enjoy a cup of tea and a moment to yourself. At Bali Wicker we use polyethylene rattan from Viro Tech that is non recycled material. This enables us to have a 2 year warranty on all our wicker.
Look for polyethylene rattan that is UV Stable. Rattan made with too little or no UV stabiliser quickly becomes brittle in the South African sun. Unfortunately there is no way to tell how much UV stabiliser has been used in polyethylene rattan just by looking. Your best guide to the UV stability of the rattan is the warranty. All products at Bali Wicker come with at least a 1 year factory warranty.
Wicker furniture is hand-woven. Weaving rattan is difficult. It takes a skilled worker to do the job properly. A good weaver consistently weaves tight and straight. Some manufacturers save a few bucks by cutting corners on skilled labour. This results in a loose or crooked weave, and an item that looks shoddy. A tight weave supports weight better and lasts a lot longer.
Sofas starts to sag because of loose weaving. This is not a comfy place to park your backside.
The foam for cushioning material used in wicker furniture comes in two main types: regular foam sponge, and “sandwich” foam made with dacron. Using regular foam sponge helps keep costs down and this material is suitable for items that will receive only occasional use.
Sandwich foam is a sturdier alternative which uses both foam layers as well as a material called dacron. These layers are “sandwiched” together, hence the name: one layer of foam to one layer of dacron. Dacron is a synthetic, toughened polyester with elastic qualities making it an ideal material to use in between the foam layers.
Avoid cushioning made from low density foams as they provide little support or comfort. Low density foam is not meant for sitting on. It props your posterior poorly. At Bali Wicker, all cushioning on our wicker furniture has a minimum density of 28 kilograms per cubic metre.
Polyester is a common material used for cushions. It’s affordable and can be screen printed in variety of bright colours, shades and patterns. However polyester can fade if left in the sun. So while it is a weather resistant fabric it is important to use polyester only in areas that don’t see a lot of direct sunlight. Fabrics that use this material should be taken inside when not in use.
100% acrylic fabrics are weather resistant and will hold their colours for a longer period of time compared to polyester. They will however fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. It is recommended that acrylic cushions be covered or kept under some sort of shade to prolong the life of the fabric and keep it looking fresh and vibrant for many years. Acrylic is the fabric you’ll find on most wicker furniture at Bali Wicker.
At Bali Wicker, we also offer you a second set of covers for free.
Sunbrella is widely regarded as the best in outdoor fabrics. It is water, fade, mould, mildew and stain resistant, making it a brilliant outdoor fabric. Sunbrella outdoor fabric is 100% solution dyed acrylic. Solutions dyed means that the fibres are dyed in a colour solution before they are woven - not printed on after the fabric cloth is manufactured. It is also a great deal more expensive than other fabrics. We use Sunbrella on all our furniture items.
Now that you know what we stand for, we hope we could help you make an informed decision.
Hopefully you get to choose something from us that will set you apart from the neighbours.