If you’ve ever shopped for patio furniture, you’ve probably run across a fair amount of wicker. The term wicker does not refer specifically to the material, but rather to the process by which the material is shaped into a usable piece. Natural cane is commonly made of rattan, bamboo or other sturdy, water and damage resistant wood. plastic synthetics
However, because of the limitations of supply, even the fast growing rattan vines can be quite costly when compared to plastic or aluminum patio sets. It is still significantly less expensive that slow growing hardwoods, and the quality of rattan is undeniably higher than nearly all plastic or aluminum offerings. Unfortunately, shoppers on a tight budget may be priced out of the cane market even though the benefits draw them to it.
The perfect compromise to avoid this dilemma to is to explore the options of synthetic wicker. This term can be used in reference to any cane that is crafted from a non-natural substance, but most often refers to plastic.
Unlike run of the mill plastic patio furniture, synthetic wicker is crafted to have the same durability as natural cane. Made of high grade plastic, these pieces are incredibly sturdy and attractive, usually mimicking natural rattan to an exceptional degree. Since it is not natural cane, there are apparent differences between the two. For example, natural rattan has imperfections in the wood, whereas synthetic wicker will have a very smooth texture.
Natural material is widely known for its ease of care. It requires a thorough once yearly cleaning, usually before storage, and an occasional oiling or buffing if rough patches arise. Since it is a wood, it is susceptible to the elements. Even the extremely water resistant bamboo will eventually show damage if left in standing water too often or too long. The high grade materials in synthetic wicker are far more forgiving to abuse or neglect than natural cane. Also, since the materials are non-porous, they are much easier to keep clean. Rather than using a scrub brush and cleaner, synthetic wicker can often be cleaned with a hose and a thorough wipe down.
Another key difference between natural and synthetic wickers is the ability to dye the plastic before production. While natural cane can, technically, be painted or stained, the finish is not usually as lustrous or even as it should be. Because the plastic can be dyed and shaped, synthetic wicker lends itself to a wide array of patterns and colors to match any décor. Many producers are now offering intricate designs woven into their pieces, with multiple colors and unique details that were unheard of for natural rattan. Even if price isn’t a deciding factor, you may consider going synthetic for the purely aesthetic options available.