If you ask most people what the difference between Rattan and Wicker is, they would probably say they are essentially the same. Because of this, the two terms are often used interchangeably when referring to indoor and outdoor furniture with the ‘wicker look’. The truth however is that although wicker and rattan are considered in the same ‘natural materials’ category there is a vast difference in the two materials.
Rattan is a close relative of the palm tree. It is a type of a vine that rapidly grows in the jungles of South Eastern region. It grows in the shape of a pole, and its diameter varies between one to three inches. Rattan is one of the strongest woods and possesses the ability to grow up high as hundred feet. Unlike the bamboo pole, rattan boasts a strong core and is thus durable and even hard to break.
On the other hand, wicker is not a material but an ancient technique used to manufacture items out of natural materials, such as willow, rush, rush, rattan core and more. The natural materials are made wet so that they can be easily woven to create wicker design furniture pieces.
So here is where the difference lies – Rattan is a specific material, hence rattan furniture is crafted out of rattan only, but wicker furniture may be crafted out of different materials such as bamboo, straw and even rattan. Recently, synthetic materials are also being used for manufacturing wicker furniture.
In terms of versatility and durability rattan furniture scores much more than wicker furniture. Rattan features a solid core and is available in an array of natural colors. Wicker furniture, on the other hand, may or may not be strong. It basically varies with the material used for manufacturing wicker furniture.
Natural rattan furniture is sure to fade if exposed to sunlight. As a result, it is preferred for indoors only. On the other hand, painted wicker furniture or furniture made of synthetic material is not known to fade when exposed to sunlight. Hence, they can be used indoors as well as outdoors.