Wicker furniture can be made either by weaving natural timber vines/stems of rattan, reed, bamboo, seagrass, willow, or banana leaf, or with man-made material such as polyethylene, synthetic vinyl, and resin. Rattan cane is the primary material used for making wicker. The pliability of these materials makes it possible to make furniture in a wide array of designs such as full-sized wicker beds, dinning tables, and bookshelves. Following are some factors to consider when buying wicker furniture.
Natural wickerwork made of rattan or bamboo is more vulnerable to weather damage and must be protected from exposure to the elements. Too much sunlight will make the fiber brittle and cause it to crack or chip off. On the other hand, excess humidity may cause mildew to fester on the furniture. Therefore, for outdoor use, go in for an all-weather wicker furniture which is either made of synthetic material or has been coated with synthetic vinyl or resin, in order to weatherproof and increase its durability. The internal frame of outdoor furniture must be made of aluminum, so as to resist rust and warping.
Both natural and synthetic wicker furniture is durable and attractive. However, as mentioned earlier, for outdoor use, the furniture needs to be provided greater protection in order to last several years. Natural wicker is best-suited for indoor use, where it can be protected from the damaging effects of the elements. That being said, natural wickerwork requires more maintenance as compared to synthetic furniture. Caring for wicker furniture involves regular cleaning to keep dust away. It may also require cleaning with bleach to remove mildew, and timely treatments with gloss lacquer to prevent the furniture from looking timeworn. On the other hand, other than the occasional dusting, synthetic wicker does not require much looking after. Secondly, such materials tend to last for several years without much maintenance.
Do not be swayed by the aesthetic appeal of a furniture alone. Make sure that the furniture is sturdy, made of excellent quality reed/synthetic material, and the weaves are tightly intertwined. Most importantly, you will need to check the fiber, and ensure that there are no damaged ends sticking out from the undersurface of the furniture. The weaves must be able to withstand the weight of the user and not give away under pressure. Secondly, you will need to check the paintwork if any, and check for stains, discoloration, and sloppy work. Thirdly, you will need to check whether the fiber has been properly coated with weatherproof resin and gloss.
Although you may be tempted to buy the biggest wicker sofa, dinning table, or chairs you come across, you will need to consider the space where you intend to place the furniture. If possible, go in for furniture with exact size specifications so as to avoid buying furniture that is either too large or small for indoor or outdoor use. Secondly, consider the number of pieces that you wish to buy, and whether you would prefer individual pieces or would like to buy furniture in pairs.
Unless the secondhand wicker furniture is being bought in mint condition from a reputable dealer or has been checked thoroughly for defects, it is always preferable to go in for new furniture. Used furniture is often refurbished to hide signs of wear and tear, and may even be infested with termites, which are hard to detect. If possible, go in for used wicker furniture that is relatively new and was bought not-so-long ago by its original owner. Test the joints of the furniture, and avoid the ones that make squeaky sounds.
Furniture with close weave pattern are tighter, stronger, and more labor intensive than open weaves, and thus, more expensive as well. Additionally, the type and quality of reed, and the design and make of the furniture also determine the cost of the furniture. More importantly, furniture that is being ordered online and needs to be imported from countries such as Thailand, Philippines, or Malaysia, are bound to prove more expensive as compared to pieces sold by local stores. Secondly, individual wicker pieces tend to be more costly as compared to furniture that are sold in pairs or sets.
Make sure that you go in for wicker furniture that compliments the interior decor of your home. For example, for modern interiors, opt for furniture with sharper, geometric designs.