What’s the Real Difference b

What’s the Real Difference between Rattan and Wicker?
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What’s the Real Difference between Rattan and Wicker?

Choosing between two classic materials for your outdoor garden furniture (or for indoor use) is not an easy task. After all, rattan and wicker both look great; surely, they’re more or less the same thing aren’t they?

Nope! A popular misconception, rather than being different materials altogether, one isn’t actually a material at all!

Fortunately, Where Saints Go have some digging and drawn up a comprehensive understanding of the main differences, and also listed some top tips on how you can start using them to breathe new life into your home décor and garden experience.

 Rattan Chair

Woven History

 Pyramid Egypt


So to start with, a bit of historical context to set the scene.

Strictly speaking, wicker is a not actually a material at all, unlike rattan. Rather, it’s a type of weave, and also a technique. An illustrative example of this is our lovely Rattan Colonial Armchair (see thumbnail). This is a chair made with rattan, but having been woven in a wicker-basket style.

That’s why you often see furniture described as ‘rattan in wicker weave’. This hybrid approach often brings out the best in the both, culminating in a stylish Scandi meets Bohemian design. (Fun fact: The word wicker actually has Scandinavian origins – ‘vika’ and ‘vikker’ are Swedish for ‘to bend’ and ‘willow’. So if you’re looking for Scandi-styled décor, wicker weave is as close as you can get!)


Wicker itself dates back to Ancient Egyptian times, and was seen a real luxury item. The tombs of Pharaohs were often found containing wicker baskets, chairs and chests – wicker was associated with the super wealthy and was a renowned status symbol. By the 1500s and 1600s, it made its way over to Europe and grew in popularity. By the Victorian era in Britain, it was everywhere.

Rattan, on the other hand, is another term for climbing palms (a certain type of palm tree). Rattans differ from other palm trees because of how slender their stems are, typically with a diameter of between 2cm and 5cm.

Rattan is also very exotic. Up to 70% of the world’s rattan supply comes from three Indonesian islands; Sulawesi, Sumbawa and Borneo. That’s why we named our superb skinny rattan kitchen/bar stools Jakarta, after the capital city of Indonesia.

Indonesian Flag

Taking Care


So now that you know the main differences between rattan and wicker, how important is it to maintain once you’ve purchased your perfect piece? Quite important, actually.

Palm Trees

Since rattan furniture (in a wicker weave) is often targeted for outdoor use, it’s going to see its fair share of the elements depending on where in the world you are. In wetter climates, it’s vital that you keep your rattan chairs and tables as dry as possible.

Wet rattan leads to a distorted loss of shape and can even lead to nasty mould and mildew. You’ll want to keep your garden furniture covered up where possible with a tarpaulin or waterproof sheeting of some kind, or if you can, move it inside when not in use.

Rattan in a wicker pattern needs particular care, since the weave is often tight and involves small gaps for dirt and dust to get trapped between. Cleaning and drying out wet rattan involves using a brush to displace all the dirt that can get caught between the weave.

Conversely, rattan that gets too dry can crack and fragment. Linseed oil (also used on cricket bats to lubricate the natural willow) is a great way to keep things in check.

Just think of it like maintaining your car. Your car needs an oil check every so often, and so does your rattan furniture! So long as you keep an eye on its condition, rattan can have a long lifespan and keep your garden or conservatory looking beautiful for many years. Bear in mind that natural materials require more tender-loving-care than man-made varieties.

Final Thoughts


Rattan and wicker are often confused and thought of as the same, when in reality they are two different terms. However, when combined, they make for some gorgeous furniture and are a perfect way of upgrading your outdoor living space.

We have an extensive range of rattan on our website, so check out what you can find to add to your style collection, especially whilst there’s some summer left to be enjoyed.

Perfect for arranging weekend BBQs, afternoon/evening drinks in the garden or just some special get-togethers, rattan furniture really is a great way of adding bohemian styling to your space whilst also being super practical when properly looked after.

We hope this little fact-finding mission has been useful for you. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy what’s left of the summer months, and consider picking up some superb rattan pieces whilst you’re here.

We’ll see you next week.


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Tag: rattan rattan furniture wicker furniture wicker wicker chair rattan chair outdoor furniture garden furniture outdoor chair garden chair