Natural rattan furniture is still available, and is constructed from one or more of the more than six hundred species of tropical palm fibres. New natural rattan furniture is beautiful, and it can sometimes cause confusion in those wanting to buy outdoor furniture: which one is best suited to your needs? Let’s look at a few of the factors to consider, so you can make your choice with all of the knowledge necessary to spend your money on the best product for you.
Better Aesthetic Appeal
There is no denying that high-quality, natural materials have a charm and beauty that is difficult to rival using synthetic products, but synthetic rattan has come extremely close to replicating it. For most people, it is difficult to tell the difference between new natural rattan furniture, and a good synthetic counterpart.
Both natural and synthetic rattan furniture comes in a wide variety of sizes, styles and colours, so they are pretty equal in that department too.
Where synthetic rattan pulls ahead, is with regard to resisting harsh outdoor elements, like all-day UV ray exposure when in sunlight, wind and rain, snow and freezing temperatures. Natural rattan will not stand up to this punishment. Not only will it soon look old and damaged, it will split, crack, peel and fade, losing the appeal that attracted it to you in the first place. It doesn’t matter how well made it was, or what quality of natural rattan was used; it simply won’t stand up to constant outdoor exposure. Those who own it must be diligent in keeping it covered, or moving it into sheds or other shelters when not in use.
High-quality synthetic rattan, however, resists moisture, freezing, abrasion, UV damage, and anything else nature throws at it throughout the year. The colour is part of the material itself – not painted on – so it doesn’t fade or peel either. Your furniture retains its great look despite exposure to weather. Avoid the cheap plastic versions – they won’t stand up to some of the harsher dangers, like UV rays – but choose a quality product and you’ll enjoy it for years on end.
Natural rattan has been used for furniture for a long time, because it is naturally strong and durable in its native conditions. If protected from outdoor elements in the UK, high-quality natural rattan furniture lasts a long time and looks beautiful. This requires it to be kept inside, of course, or at least moved back inside after outdoor use.
Quality synthetic rattan differs in that it can be kept indoors or out, with no difference to the appearance or function of the furniture. It can stay outside all of the time without damage to its beauty or durability.
When new, there is no difference in comfort between natural and synthetic rattan furniture. A good design will mean comfort and beauty using either material. With aging, if exposed to the elements, natural rattan will tend to peel, split or break, though, so in that respect synthetic rattan retains its comfort despite exposure to outdoor conditions.
In both cases, quality is a major factor. The weave should be relatively fine, the piece not too large or small for those using it, and the cushions should fit properly and provide proper comfort.
Easier Care & Maintenance
Routine cleaning with mild, soapy water is all that is need to maintain either natural or synthetic furniture. Synthetic rattan has the added benefit that is can be sprayed down if desired, and retains its beauty even after repeated cleaning, whereas natural rattan will eventually show the effects of even proper cleaning.
Quality is always a key part of this advantage, however; cheap plastic rattan will not hold up as well or look as good as a high-quality synthetic rattan will. Some very cheap brands are even made from moulded plastic, and not a weave at all. These should be avoided, for style, comfort, and durability reasons.
Unless you are diligent in covering your natural rattan furniture to protect it from sun and rain, and bringing it into a storage area when weather is poor, synthetic rattan is a clear winner here. After all, if you buy beautiful furniture, it is a shame to keep it covered up in ugly bags.
Eco-Friendly Garden Furniture
As with any production process, there are pros and cons to both natural and synthetic rattan products.
The heavy use of natural rattan fibres has brought some species near to extinction, and where farming practices have taken over from wild harvesting, there have been problems with forest degradation and a decrease in biodiversity.
Both processes can involve the use of toxic chemicals, but it is possible to use non-toxic methods for synthetic rattan production – and so that’s what we do. All of our rattan garden furniture pieces are made from non-toxic, eco-friendly, 100% recyclable fibres. In areas where natural rattan is produced, there is little or no protections for local residents and environments; we make sure that our products support a healthy environment.
The fact that our products last longer, and look great the whole time, gives them even less environmental impact. They are a good, eco-friendly alternative.
There is no significant difference in the initial cost, between a high-quality natural rattan piece and a high-quality synthetic rattan piece. The longevity of function and appearance of synthetic rattan furniture can make it a better long0term value than natural rattan, though a natural piece that is cleaned regularly, covered, and brought indoors to protect it from the elements can also last a long time.
Cheaper versions are out there, but since they lose their beauty more quickly, and break down more quickly, they will need to be replaced much sooner, meaning that the apparent lower cost is repeated, making it not such a great deal after all. Besides that, investing in a quality piece will bring you more comfort and enjoyment – which means better value.