Wicker is a popular outdoor material seen at many upscale commercial venues and beachfront resorts. It’s modern, stylish, and decorative but is it safe to use outside? There are two types of wicker; natural and synthetic. Synthetic resin wicker is best suited for outdoor use while natural wicker is only intended for indoor use or temporary outdoor use.
First we need to clear up a few things; the difference between wicker and rattan and the difference between natural wicker and synthetic resin wicker. Synthetic wicker (most popular) can be used outside but natural wicker is the material that comes into question more often than not. To rephrase:
- The question is asking, “Can you use wicker furniture outside?”
- What you probably mean is, “Can you use natural (rattan) wicker furniture outside?”
Wicker vs Rattan
Wicker and rattan are often used interchangeably however they are not the same thing. Wicker is a type of weave and rattan is a natural material (plant fiber) that is used to make wicker furniture. Learn more about the differences between wicker and rattan.
Outdoor Use: Natural Wicker vs Synthetic Resin
Using Synthetic Resin Wicker Outdoors
When people say “outdoor wicker furniture,” most of the time they are referring to synthetic resin wicker instead of rattan. This is what you’ll see on most (if not all) home decorating websites. Synthetic wicker is typically made of either PVC or Polyethylene, the latter being the most durable outdoor material. Synthetic wicker is perfectly fine to be used outside. Although outdoor wicker furniture is made to withstand the elements, you should always use care to ensure that any type of outdoor furniture lasts for extended periods of time. At the bottom of the article you can find articles that will teach you how to clean and care for wicker furniture.
- Full details on the the difference between Natural Wicker and Synthetic Resin
Using Natural Wicker Outdoors
Natural wicker on the other hand is not intended to be used outdoors. Natural wicker is usually only meant for indoor use because it can deteriorate rather quickly. Even Wicker Woman advises:
“…it’s OK to use your wicker outside on your deck, but leaving it out there permanently, exposed to all the weather elements, is not a good idea at all…Antique wicker furniture can never be replaced, so is not intended for outdoor use! …Or if you really want the wicker look, be sure to buy all-weather wicker or resin wicker which are made to be used outdoor or buy a cheap reproduction rattan wicker that’s easily replaced?”
-Cathryn Jungroth Peters from © Wicker Woman
Natural wicker is not intended to be used outdoors and no amount of “water-proofing” spray-on’s will protect natural wicker from the sun, moisture, mold, and mildew. If you want to use wicker furniture outside, it has to be resin wicker. Resin wicker is one of the most durable outdoor materials and looks just like the real thing. Just make sure you purchase quality sets. One of the tell tale signs of cheap resin wicker is that it will have an extremely glossy finish. Find out more tips below.
Natural rattan or paper fiber wicker cannot be used outdoors for extended periods of time however, synthetic resin wicker can be used outside. Most of the time when you’re searching for outdoor wicker furniture, you’re seeing is synthetic resin. Please browse our Blog or review some of the resources below for more information. Shop outdoor wicker sectional sets, wicker dining sets, and resin wicker daybeds!
- The 5 Best Wicker Furniture Brands
- How to Choose Quality Wicker Furniture Without Paying the Price
- The Complete Guide To Synthetic Wicker Furniture
- How to Properly Store Wicker Furniture in the Winter
- 7 of the Coolest Outdoor Wicker Hanging Chairs
- Deep Seating Wicker Patio Furniture Sets
- White Outdoor Wicker Furniture
- Thick Wicker Furniture Sets with Rounded Strands
About the Author
Cheryl Khan is able to lend her insight on this topic after spending years in the design field. She has learned that all outdoor furniture is not the same. She is a contributing author to the Patio Productions Blog where she shares outdoor living tips to transform your backyard!