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The Neighborhood

Selecting & Caring For Furniture  
Wicker Furniture 101
By Plow & Hearth
2/6/2013 12:40:00 PM
wicker guide

A wicker furniture grouping can be an instant upgrade to the look and feel of any home. Built for real comfort, the classic design, soft contours and pleasing texture of woven wicker furniture is an invitation to sit back and enjoy some personal time relaxing or entertaining friends and family.

A Little History

Natural wicker is a term used for any vine or natural filament that is woven onto a frame to make various furniture pieces. Traditionally made from rattan, woven wicker has been in use as a furniture construction material for thousands of years.

Casual living first began moving outdoors in Europe during the Victorian era. Long popular in the Far East where they originated, wicker styles began making their way into European gardens, porches and patios. We still draw on those classic designs to produce modern synthetic wicker that meets today’s lifestyle demands of durability, low maintenance and high value.

Traditional Rattan Wicker: Your Indoor Wicker Choice

Rattan is a fast-growing tropical plant that produces stalks and vines that are used in all kinds of construction, including furniture. Rattan can be easily bent to construct furniture frames and split to produce the flat material used to weave the body and seats. An excellent choice for your living room, family room and especially the sunroom, natural rattan does not hold up well outdoors over time. The rattan material will start to fade, weaken and break down after a couple of years of exposure to the elements; likewise rattan frames, while easy and inexpensive to produce, also don’t hold up well when used outdoors.

Wicker Furniture Made From PVC: The Best Wicker For Outdoors

Say hello to all-weather wicker! Modern PVC wicker is made by melting PVC resin and extruding it in different shapes and sizes to make the strands and filaments used for weaving the body of the furniture onto a fixed frame.

PVC resins themselves vary in quality. The chemistry of good quality, synthetic wicker makes it UV- and weather-resistant while keeping it strong and flexible over years of use. Good quality PVC wicker can be made with a multicolor textured surface that is attractive and mimics the look and feel of natural wicker. Less expensive PVC wicker may save on initial cost, but will fade easily and become weak and brittle over time.

The metal frames and PVC wicker are formed and woven into shapes and contours that combine pleasing visual design with seating comfort that no other furniture can match. It has all the charm and relaxed comfort of traditional wicker furniture with the added benefit of being low maintenance and weatherproof. The PVC resin weaving will not absorb water, so it dries quickly even after a soaking rain. Best of all, it never needs painting or treating.

Rattan wicker is generally woven onto rattan frames, while PVC wicker is most often woven onto of powder-coated tubular steel or cast aluminum frames that are tightly wrapped with PVC wicker material. This makes them exceptionally strong, lightweight and completely weatherproof. While the steel frames offer affordable strength and durability, cast aluminum frames have the added benefit of being resistant to corrosion – a quality that makes them particularly suitable for coastal climates.

Prospect Hill Wicker Seating Handwoven Resin Wicker Outdoor Dining Collection
Prospect Hill Wicker Seating Handwoven Resin Wicker Outdoor Dining Collection

Some benefits of All-Weather PVC Wicker include:

Style. Any style you can find made from rattan, you’ll also find in PVC: rockers, gliders, chaise lounges, settees or seating groups with matching side tables, coffee tables and ottomans add comfort and style to your porch, patio or deck.
Easy entertaining. Tempered glass tabletops on your outdoor PFC wicker dining sets make them a cinch to clean up, while stackable chairs are as easy to store as the cheap plastic kind found at discount stores – and are a whole lot more attractive. 
Care and maintenance. Talk about easy to clean - PVC wicker furniture is stain-resistant and quick-drying. A hose and brush is all you need to keep it looking great. To make it even easier to clean (and keep it looking great year after year), add furniture covers in the off seasons. 

Add Color And Comfort With Cushions

Cushions are an integral part of the look and comfort of wicker furniture, and a new set of cushions is an easy and affordable way to update the look and style of your wicker furniture. Choose matching cushions from a wide range of stripes, solids, patterns and colors. A great long-term decorating advantage of wicker furniture is that cushions and pillows can be replaced to easily create a fresh and different style for the porch or patio without having to replace the furniture. Quick-drying cushions are treated to resist fading, soiling and stains.

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