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Wicker Vs Rattan

Among some of the misconceptions in the furniture world, one of the most common one is confusing wicker with rattan. The following paragraphs are going to clarify this confusion once and for all.

What is Rattan?

Rattan is a vine which mainly grows in South East Asia, India, China and Indonesia. There are several different species of rattan which can grow up to 180 meters in length. Although, rattan technically belongs to the palm family, it looks more like a vine (similar to a bamboo).

The vine is used readily all over the world which is why in recent years because of forest destruction and conversion, the natural habitat of rattan has depleted rapidly. Owing to this fact, the Forest Department of Indonesia has established a safeguarded rattan cultivation program. The commercial cultivation of the rattan plant is a viable venture however and offers bright possibility of future supply.

Photo of Rattan Baskets

Rattan Made Baskets

Rattan is mainly used for furniture making, the outer sheath of the vine or its skin is removed and cut into thin strips when rattan is being processed, these strips are used as weaving material for the furniture. The inner part of the rattan is molded into different kinds of furniture.

Furniture companies that specialize in rattan furniture, mostly have their processing plants in the Philippines or other areas where rattan grows naturally, the wood is treated and processed in these plants before it is shipped off to where it is needed.

Rattan is considered by many as one of the strongest woods to make furniture out of, because the plant’s grain grows vertically instead of forming rings as is true with other kinds of hard woods such as mahogany and oak, the material can be manipulated and molded into any kind of shape and design that you would like using specialized shapers.

Rattan is shaped in a wetted condition and once it is dry it maintains the shape forever. Though, highly versatile there are some issues with having rattan furniture as an outdoor option. While it does give your home that very nice Caribbean and tiki look, the material can’t really withstand the unpredictable weather, too much rain or sun can easily damage your furniture.

The furniture can become cracked and can also fade fairly easily. One could simply move the furniture in bad weather, as rattan furniture is particularly light weight but really nobody wants to do that much work.

Man, however, has formulated and easy enough solution for this, which is man-made or synthetic rattan.  Synthetic rattan is manufactured from a food grade plastic material called polyethylene. The rattan Furniture supplied by Lloyds Garden Furniture is synthetic.

This material is a big hit with homeowners as it requires minimal maintenance and is highly resistant to UV rays and humidity. Which means you can leave your furniture out for as long as you want and it won’t get cracked or faded.

What is Wicker?

Wicker as opposed to rattan is actually not a furniture making material at all but is an ancient technique which is used to manufacture items from natural materials such as rattan and willow etc. The willow and rattan are first dampened so that they can easily be woven into different kinds of furniture using the wicker technique.

So, rattan is a product while wicker is merely a process; a process of weaving the wood such as rattan or other materials into a finished furniture piece or any other accessory.

Photo of Wicker Chair

Traditional Wicker Chair

To create a piece of wicker furniture various techniques can be used, the wicker weaves are made up of spokes, weavers and vertical supports which are the horizontal strands. To help shape up the reeds of the material such as rattan, the material is first soaked in warm water to make it more malleable. The thickness of the material is what decrees how long the material is going to be soaked in the water.

Because there are so many craftsmen doing the wicker technique, there is a lot of variation found among the wicker style. The most standard and common wicker technique is going over one spoke and under the next and then going on like this. This kind of weave is transformed into a kind of braid intertwining around two to four pieces at a time.

Wicker patterns are extremely intricate, some patterns are so delicate that actual images can be created from them.

Next time you hear a salesman confuse the two terms, feel free to correct and inform him.

Repairing Rattan Furniture

Repairing Rattan Furniture – Tips and Tricks

Rattan furniture is highly flexible and versatile; this is what makes it such a common choice of home-owners all over the world. However, the trouble with rattan is that it needs just the right kind of setting to ensure its longevity. The furniture needs absolute moderate conditions if it is to be used as outdoor furniture (which is what most home owners go for), the conditions can’t be too humid or even too dry or else the furniture suffers.

If you do manage to keep your rattan furniture in a suitable environment and keep on maintaining and cleaning it at regular intervals it can last you a very long time. You do have to remember however that the furniture should not be kept somewhere that’s:

Too Dry

Your rattan furniture is essentially a dried plant so if you tend to leave it in a place that’s too dry and has a lot of sun well then the material gets even drier and starts to get brittle and finally cracks. If you are using rattan furniture in the patio, be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight- place it under a shade somewhere.
And if you’ve kept your furniture inside, it would be better if you keep it as far away from heating ducts and open fireplaces as you can. If the air inside your home is too dry, you can think of using a humidifier to keep the furniture from drying and cracking.

Too Damp

As mentioned above as well, neither too dry nor too damp conditions are good for the life of your rattan furniture. If you place your furniture in a place where there’s a lot of humidity in the air and not enough natural light, mould or mildew will form on your furniture, giving it a blackened look and a bad odour.

If your furniture is kept outside in the rain, it will become damaged very quickly and quite easily. It is best to move your rattan furniture inside if you sense that there’s rain coming. As an alternative Lloyds Garden Furniture offers all weather PE Rattan furniture which can be left outsid all year round.

Rattan Care

So, it’s understood that you need to keep your rattan furniture in just the right place with just the environment, but what also needs to be mentioned here is the fact that if you want your rattan furniture to last you a long time, you need to properly maintain it.

The good news is that rattan furniture maintenance is actually not that hard. Just make sure that you dust and clean your furniture at regular intervals. Making a cleaning schedule will help a lot.

You can either dust your furniture gently using a feather duster or if you see some persistent stains on it, you can use liquid detergent mixed in with water, take a soft brush or a sponge to clean off the stains.

Just remember that if you have dampened your rattan furniture in the cleaning process, you need to dry it off properly and immediately. You can do this by either using a dry towel, a hair dryer or even a fan.

If you’re looking to give your furniture a brand new look, you can apply lacquer on it after you’ve cleaned it. And if you’re bored with the same old traditional rattan colour, you can even stain the furniture into whatever colour you want. One of the best qualities of rattan furniture is that it can easily be stained and painted.

While all this is good and fine, you have to be wary of the fact that your rattan furniture can be damaged, because of the intricate wicker work on this type of furniture there’s a chance that some of the reeds will get loose over time. If this situation comes you have to look into repairing your rattan furniture, which you can either get done by a professional or you can go for the DIY option.

Professional Repair

Because wicker work is so delicate the restoration or repair of your rattan furniture by a professional can take days or in some cases even months. Antique wicker work charges can cost you about $60 per hour on top of tax.

Also, intricate wicker work is a lost art, so you will need to search high and low for an actual professional to get the job done.

Because the repair and restoration tends to be such an expensive option, you need to figure out if the furniture is even worth repairing or should you just go and buy some new rattan furniture.

There are some rattan furniture repair specialists located in the UK which you can look up.

The DIY Option

Image of conventional rattan weave pattern

Conventional Rattan Weave

Image of Rattan Open Weave Pattern

Open Weave Pattern

Image of Rattan Closed Weave

Rattan Closed Weave

If you can’t afford to get your rattan furniture repaired by a specialist or don’t have the funds to buy new furniture, you can always go for the third option which is the Doing It Yourself option.

First off you would need to get your hands on some pre-woven rattan, which is available in the following three styles;
You would also need water, cane splines, wood glue, a clean cloth, wood stain, a blunt edge chisel and a hammer. First off, you need to remove the damaged part of the old rattan, clean out the grove meticulously soak the pre-woven rattan in water for at least 30 minutes so you can handle it easily.

When the pre-woven rattan is good and wet, wedge it into place on the furniture, move it from back to centre adjusting the rattan into the groove. Do this first from the back end and then from the front end when the piece has fitted in properly apply the wood stain on it and allow it to dry.

Repair it Yourself

Whether you go for professional repair or decide to fix it yourself, after the repair your rattan furniture will look as good as new.

If yo are looking for synthetic rattan which can be left ourdoors in all weathers the look at http://lloydsgardenfurniture.co.uk/rattan

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What Is Rattan?

Rattan comes in two basic forms, natural and man made. In this article we will discus the natural Rattan only.

Rattan is the term used for around 600 different species of palms which are native to the regions of Africa, Australasia and Asia. The feature that distinguishes rattan from other kinds of wood is its slender stems which are around 2-5 cm in diameter. As opposed to other furniture making materials, rattan is in fact not a tree at all but is vine like and can be found growing through and across various vegetation sites.

Appearance
Superficially speaking, rattan is strikingly similar to bamboo, the difference being that unlike bamboo shoots which are hollow from the inside, rattan stems or Malacca are solid and require additional structural support in order to stand.

Photo of the Rattan Plant

Natural Rattan In The Forrest
Curtesy of © WWF Laos

Almost 70% of the Rattan plant population is known to grow in Indonesia, the plant also grows in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Most Rattan is grown in whats known as secondary forests. This is where most of the trees and plant are young and the light levels on the forest floor are much higher. Growing from the forest floor Rattan is a climber or creeper plant useing other trees to climb up and hold onto. Rattan can grow up to be hundreds of meters long, with long internodes between the leaves- some rattan also have spines which serve a twofold purpose; they help the plant climb over other plants present in the vegetation and also dissuade herbivorous animals from eating the plant.

Benefits of Harvesting Rattan
As opposed to other kinds of wood, harvesting rattan is actually economically and environmentally beneficial. The economic benefit is derived from the fact that when loggers choose to harvest rattan they leave other trees in the vicinity, also choosing to gather rattan instead of other types of wood is much easier and requires much simpler tools and transportation means as it is much lighter than the alternatives.

Once the Rattan has been harvested it then requires processing into a form suitable for making furniture and weaving. This process involves washing the Rattan to remove the Silica which coats the core and to remove any staining which may be present. After the wasing the Rattan is dried and cured, this process involves turning the pale green color of the raw rattan to the yellow that one mostly sees in furniture today. Raw rattan can be processed into numerous products that can all be used in the rattan furniture making process; rattan skin can be peeled off and used as a weaving material for the furniture items, the core of the material can be used to make the base of the furniture.
Rattan can be painted and stained like many other types of wood, so it actually can be bought in different colors.

As with other types of furniture, buying rattan furniture for your home both has its pros and cons- some of which are discussed below. Lloyds Garden Furniture offers premium high quality rattan furniture

Pros
Considered among the advantages of rattan furniture is the fact that it is very versatile i.e. you can mold into having various looks depending upon your taste. Rattan furniture is a great outdoor option as it’s quite light weight and you can easily move it inside if there is sign of bad weather.
Another pro of rattan furniture is its cost, it is one of the most economical furniture type available in the market. Have a look at http://lloydsgardenfurniture.co.uk/rattan to see some examples of quality rattan furniture.

Cons
One of the biggest cons of keeping rattan furniture outside is that it really can’t be left outdoors for longer periods of time as humidity and even a lot of sun can easily damage it. However, if rattan furniture is taken care of properly you can easily enjoy it for a lot of years. For more information on Rattan please read Rattan Facts