Rattan, Cane & Wicker Furniture

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Rattan, Cane, And Wicker: What Is The Difference?

Wicker, cane, and rattan are three terms that tend to confuse us. While you can get a lot of information on the subject, here is a simple explanation to better understand these three terms.

Wicker is a style of making woven furniture. Rattan and cane are the materials that we use to make wicker-style materials. We make wicker furniture through the process of weaving.

Wicker Explained

Jeco Wicker Chair with Red Cushion, Set of 2, White/W00206-
Wicker Chair (Amazon)


We get wicker in its natural form and as a synthetic material as well. We then weave the vine or grass, which may be natural or synthetic, into different shapes to form various objects like furniture, baskets, and other household objects.

You can find the style of wicker in furniture and baskets. It traces its origin back to ancient Egypt and is still a popular craft even today. Wickerwork traces its origin back to 3,000 BC. Various objects adorned the tombs of pharaohs in the form of chests, boxes, baskets, and chairs. You can see pictures of artisans doing wickerwork on the walls of the ruins of ancient Egypt.

Wickerwork is a very appealing and creative form of art and experienced a revival in the early 1900s. We can find it mostly with objects that impart an antique or vintage style, but it also has some modern applications. You can get wicker from woven fibers, and it is not uncommon to find it woven from synthetic substances as well.

The different materials that we use for wickerwork are reed, rattan, cane, willow, seagrass, and bamboo. We also get wickerwork that uses synthetic materials like resin or vinyl. Synthetic wicker usually contains fibers that are already dyed or stained. Natural wicker is sometimes left alone, but it is common to apply a varnish or paint to impart a smart finish to the product.

Benefits of Using Wicker Furniture

  • Wicker furniture has a light, refreshing feel that makes it conducive to use in tropical regions.
  • The light and airy feel of wicker furniture make it perfect for tropical settings.
  • With the addition of cushions, wicker furniture gives a home a modern touch.
  • Wicker is a natural and organic way of making furniture and is an environmentally-friendly solution to home décor.
  • Furniture made of wicker is suitable for children’s rooms as it is so light.
  • It is light furniture which we can quickly move around. It makes wicker furniture a suitable choice for outdoor use.

Disadvantages Of Using Wicker Furniture

  • Wicker furniture can be somewhat uncomfortable to sit on without a cushion.
  • The weaving tends to become loose over time. Even the best quality wicker furniture may deteriorate as its binding becomes loose in due course. We then have to repair it.
  • You may find wicker furniture more challenging to maintain than regular, solid wood furniture. We can’t wipe it down quickly and also it tends to deteriorate in the sun and rain.
  • Wicker furniture is not suitable for placing outdoors in regions that experience high winds, as the light furniture can get blown about and cause damage to life and limb.
  • Painting or varnishing wicker furniture also proves to be a tricky job because of the multiple contours, unlike solid wood.

Facts About Rattan

Christopher Knight Home Aleah Indoor Woven Faux Rattan Chairs with Cushions (Set of 2), Light Brown and Beige Finish
Rattan Chairs

The material that we use in wickerwork is usually rattan. It is a vine and grows in tropical regions of Australia as well as Africa and Asia. We peel off the skin of the rattan stalks and then use the leftover material. Usually, the entire vine, including the core, finds use in wickerwork for making different categories of wicker furniture.

There are over 600 species of rattan. It is a robust fibrous plant, and we can compare it to bamboo. Rattan is the preferred type of material that we use for wickerwork because it is flexible, lightweight, and durable. Finished wicker products made from rattan are beautiful, which adds to their popularity.

Despite its popularity, rattan stalks are often cut prematurely. It impacts the ability of the plants to grow back, thereby affecting the sustainability of the material. It has led to a rise in the production of synthetic materials to provide an eco-friendly alternative.

Facts About Cane

Rattan Plant (Source)

We get cane from the rattan plant. After removal of the skin of the vine, the material that is left behind is cane. The cane then gets bent into different shapes or wrapped on wood, steel, or aluminum frames. The mottled patterns that are characteristic to rattan make cane visually appealing.

Cane has a low level of porosity and moisture absorptance. It can repel liquids, and you can easily wipe off any excess liquid with a dry cloth. It is also an extremely pliable material, thus making it conducive for making chair seats and decorative surfaces.

You can also find cane used in combination with a variety of other materials, which adds to the aesthetics. In contrast to rattan, which we paint and treat, we often leave cane as it is. Cane is considered more durable than rattan, and we use it widely for binding different parts of wicker furniture together.

The common factor for both cane and rattan is that they are both cheap. Even though these materials come from tropical countries, they are less expensive than furniture made from other materials like solid wood, metal, or plastic. One of the reasons that cane and rattan are so cheap is that they are light materials making transportation more straightforward and less expensive.

Another plus point for rattan and cane is that they are both environmental-friendly. By using furniture made of these materials, you reduce your carbon footprint.

How To Take Care Of Your Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture is robust, durable, and relatively inexpensive compared with furniture made from other materials. It will last longer if you take good care of it. Here are a few useful tips on how to maintain your wicker furniture:

Dust Regularly

If you leave your wicker furniture outside, it tends to accumulate dust. Dusting it with a dry or moist cloth every day keeps the grime away.

Apply Coatings Regularly

Although your wicker furniture may initially have a coating of paint or lacquer, it tends to wear off when exposed to the elements. Re-applying coatings at least once a year will keep your furniture looking smart perennially.

Use Soap And Water

Whenever you see stubborn stains and spills on your wicker furniture, wipe it with a cloth dipped in soap water.

Look Out For Nails

Another hazard of wicker furniture is the presence of nails. The binding and different parts of the furniture often contain nails for extra reinforcement. The nails sometimes protrude and can injure you or tear your clothes. You can flatten them using a small hammer.

Sand Rough Edges And Corners

Sometimes your wicker furniture may have rough surfaces. Splinters can cause injury to your hands. Checking the surfaces for rough spots and filing or sanding them down can prevent getting injured.

Tighten Loose Bindings

When you see that the bindings on your wicker furniture are becoming loose, you need to call in a carpenter to get them redone. A carpenter will usually replace the loose or damaged binding.


Hopefully, you are now more knowledgeable about wicker furniture. We have highlighted the difference between rattan, cane, and wicker furniture. This type of furniture looks good but also costs less compared to other kinds of furniture.

If you have wicker furniture, don’t neglect it. You need to maintain it regularly. If you follow the tips we have provided here for maintaining wicker furniture, you can extend the life of your wicker furniture indefinitely.