Second Hand Furniture – The Difference Between Rattan and Wicker

At Home from Home we stock a wide range of second hand furniture. After doing some online research we have discovered some tips on the difference between rattan and wicker.

The difference between wicker and rattan is the distinction between a product versus a process. Rattan is a type of wood with a vertical grain that is often used to make woven second hand furniture items. An item made with a particular weaving style, whatever material is used, is called wicker.

In its original form, rattan is a relative of the tropical palm tree. It starts to grow upwards like a tree, but then bends back to the ground and snakes through the rain forest like a vine. Furniture companies that specialize in furniture made with this plant often have processing plants in the Philippines or Southeast Asia to treat the wood and ship it out to large furniture manufacturing plants in America. North Carolina has a significant number of wicker and rattan furniture companies.

Rattan is considered to be one of the strongest woods available, since its grain grows vertically instead of forming the concentric rings of most other hardwoods. The straight wood is usually steamed and then bent into the desired shape through the use of specialized shapers. Once dried, it will retain its shape forever. These poles are often used to form the frames of what will become rattan or wicker furniture. Rattan is solid, which makes it an ideal material for lightweight but solid second hand furniture.

Here’s where the difference between the two terms lies: rattan is a specific material, but wicker is the general process of weaving this wood or other materials into finished goods. A rattan chair is definitely made from that specific wood, but a wicker chair may use other materials such as straw or bamboo slats around a rattan frame. There is no specific material called wicker, and some manufacturers may even use the phrase ‘cane furniture’ instead. It is essentially the same thing as wicker, but the material used in the weaving may or may not be rattan.

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