On the hunt for the best rattan furniture for your garden, but have no idea where to start? We have done all the thinking for you with our round-up of rattan garden essentials.
There are few experiences that can rival sitting in your garden with a cup of tea, the sun warming your cheeks. But taking it all in, while relaxing on gorgeous garden furniture, makes it that much better. Stylish and durable, rattan furniture does just that, flawlessly complementing any garden.
Rattan (also referred to as ‘wicker’ or ‘cane’) is a distinctive hand-woven material. It was originally made from rattan vines and natural wooden cane, but these materials expand and don’t retain colour, so are no longer used.
Nowadays, rattan furniture is usually made from either high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or PVC. HDPE creates a more premium product, according to Robert Bridgman - founder of Bridgman furniture store, which specialises in rattan furniture. “The properties are in-between a plastic and a wax,” he says, “and that gives it a very natural look and feel. It doesn’t look plasticky and it also has no toxins or chemicals.”
Is rattan furniture durable?
Rattan furniture is “extremely durable” according to Bridgman, which makes it “the best material that we’ve found for outdoor furniture”.
It's expected to last a minimum of 10 years, but the furniture’s durability is affected by how it is made. While all rattan furniture is hand-woven, some manufacturers use nails to secure the material in place. "They’re the bits that would rust or fail”, says Bridgman.
Instead, you should opt for furniture where the rattan material has been wrapped around the frame and not secured with metal fixtures.
Does rattan furniture fade in the sun?
Sunlight is rattan’s kryptonite, as the UV attacks the waxy material, it can withstand it depending on the manufacturing process.
Rattan is made through a method called extrusion where, Bridgman explains, “all of the materials are melted in a big machine and pushed through a nozzle of all different shapes and sizes”. There are two types of manufacturing process when extruding rattan: dual extrusion and mono extrusion.
Mono extrusion is a process that produces a solid weave that’s not hollow in the middle. This means the colour is stable throughout (so even if you scuff the bottom, the colour won’t fade). It is also “more UV stable, so it doesn’t fade, crack or split”, according to Bridgman.
This stability is due to the UV protection built into the furniture - which is “essentially like adding a sunscreen to the process,” Bridgman says.
Dual extrusion, on the other hand, has less than half of the UV protection, which makes it a cheaper method. During this process, one part of the machine makes the weave and the other sprays on the colour. This means the colour is not likely to last as long as rattan furniture made using mono extrusion.
Do you need to cover rattan furniture if it gets wet?
If you cover your rattan furniture with waterproof cushions they will withstand the rain. However, if you don’t own waterproof cushions (or prefer the bare look), you should take your rattan furniture indoors.
When it rains, the water passes through the fabric, deep inside the material. The next day, in the sunshine, it will feel dry to the touch but, as soon as you sit on it, the water will seep upwards and you’ll get wet.
Taking all of the above into consideration, we have assessed the market competitors and created the following shortlist of the best rattan garden furniture on the market.
1. Calamus rattan garden bench
With its ornate and intricate design, the Calamus rattan bench is rich in rustic charm. The handcrafted bench is made from woven rattan and has a natural acrylic varnish finish which should protect it from dust - although you will still need to protect it from the elements (especially wind and rain). The piece works well in the garden during summer months, but you can bring it into the conservatory for when the weather turns cooler.
Family-run business Bridgman specialises in high-quality rattan furniture made using mono extrusion. The Mayfair Modular set is no different. This curved rattan sofa is ideal for large family gatherings or summer parties, especially if you have a spacious patio. The olive-coloured rattan material creates a country chic aesthetic, and the cosy seating would work in any garden, conservatory or even living room.
3. Mayfair Swing Set
There’s nothing like the tranquillity of rocking on a swing in your garden as the weather turns warmer. The Mayfair Swing set may be slightly expensive, but it’s built to last. The frame is made from powder-coated aluminium (the same strong stuff that’s used for car paint) and the HDPE rattan material is durable. The swing set will be assembled by Bridgman upon delivery, and the set can withstand wet weather (although you should take the cushions indoors).
For more rattan furniture from Bridgman, visit bridgman.co.uk
4. Maze Rattan Tuscany Florida Sun Lounger
Sit back and catch some rays on this Maze Rattan sun lounger and table. The cushions are comfortable for a day spent relaxing in the garden, and their cream colour perfectly complements the rattan bed beneath. As an added bonus, the adjustable back and side table mean you can turn tanning sessions into cocktail hours in seconds.
This set is ideal for dining al fresco or for the couple who want to have a cuppa outside as they birdwatch. The coffee table and chairs have a rustic look and their quality is assured, as they are made by Kettler - a company that has been producing durable, UV-protected garden furniture for over 30 years. The chairs should remain intact for a long time, as the rattan is made using mono extrusion and it is woven onto a sturdy aluminium frame.
For more rattan furniture from John Lewis, visit johnlewis.com
6. Murano sofa armchair
This wicker weave armchair is woven from resin fibres that have been created to look like natural rattan. The strong fibres are weatherproof, as is the aluminium frame - so they should neither fade nor rust over time. The cushions, however, ought to be brought indoors if it rains - as they are weather-resistant rather than weather-proof. The durable chair's rustic pattern makes it ideal for either the garden or living room. It's also comfortable to sit in, as it is slightly slanted - making it ideal for a relax on the patio.
Available in a creamy 'White Kubu' or more golden 'Water Hyacinth' hue, the York table set can have a brightening effect on your garden. You can also opt for bright, clashing cushion colours - such as fresh orange and lime green - to really add some pop to your patio. The table itself is made from teak material but the chairs are made from an Ecolene synthetic rattan, weave and spun right to the bottom of the aluminium frame. The rattan was made using mono extrusion, so it should be particularly durable. You can buy the table and chairs in this set, or buy the chairs separately.
For more rattan furniture, visit gardenfurniturecentre.co.uk
8. Maze rattan 6-seat round bar set
With its slick black design and incorporated ice bucket, this rattan bar set can add a touch of glamour to any patio or garden party. The flat weave of the rattan ensures a smooth finish, and the material is of high quality and woven on to a durable aluminium frame. Bar stools are equipped with cushions - although these need to be stored indoors when it rains.
With a reclining sofa and plush back cushions, this casual dining set is ideal for sunbathing with the family or taking a quick catnap in the garden. Crafted from weather-resistant wicker and with season-proof fawn cushions and removable covers, this set is useful in the garden come rain or shine. We particularly like its light and breezy aesthetic, and that it is so versatile - the table, for instance, has an adjustable height, and the two benches can accommodate a larger party.
For more rattan furniture from Bramblecrest, visit bramblecrest.com