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Choosing the Right Rattan Garden Dining Set

 

Rattan is one of the most popular types of garden furniture available today, and with good reason. It is comfortable, durable, and very much in fashion. But what do you need to know to choose the right rattan garden set for your garden, and for your lifestyle? Read on:

Why Do People Choose Rattan Dining Sets?


There are many types of garden furniture available today, and each type has certain advantages and disadvantages. For example:

  • Metal

Solid or fretwork metal tables are sturdy, and quite heavy, making them unlikely to blow away in high winds. However, they can be expensive, hard to move and prone to rust when used as outdoor furniture.

  • Plastic

Plastic tables are light and inexpensive. However, they rarely survive more than a single season of exposure to the sun, quickly becoming brittle and losing their original colour. They can also look a bit tatty.

  • Solid Wood

Solid wood is a sturdy, long lasting natural material, much like rattan dining furniture. However, it is very heavy, can be expensive, and requires frequent restoration and refinishing if used outside.

  • Stone

Stone is of course very heavy, and can be quite expensive. It is also surprisingly delicate, as inherent flaws in the stone itself can cause dangerous cracks or breaks to form. These are almost impossible to repair.

  • Composite Wood

Composite wood tables combine strength and lightness, and often look lovely, at least until the veneer begins to peel away. Long-term exposure to sun and weather can cause composite wood to deteriorate quickly.

  • Laminate

Laminate tables fit in with modern and retro-styled gardens equally well, but can be both heavy and cumbersome to move. They hold off weather well, until a crack exposes the material under the surface material. After that, they can easily delaminate.

  • Glass

Glass tables are fairly light, and quite elegant. They handle weather well, but do require frequent cleaning. Their real drawback is their relative fragility. Even a dropped fork or glass can mark the surface forever, or send dangerous cracks spidering through it.

 

Material


As ‘rattan’ is generally used to refer to both natural and synthetic rattan wicker furniture, we need to address what ‘kind’ of rattan your garden furniture will be made of. Natural rattan is woven out of strips of dried stems from the rattan plant, a kind of liana that grows throughout South East Asia.

 

What is synthetic rattan made of?

It could be nearly anything that is not a naturally occurring material. Plastics with high UV-tolerance, or to which UV-resistant materials have been added are the most common choices.


What is ‘poly rattan’?

Poly rattan is rattan that is woven of strips of strong, sun and weather resistant polyester. Relatively thick stems of this material have a similar strength, weight and performance to natural rattan, and poly is often used for synthetic rattans for that reason.



What are the benefits of natural vs. synthetic rattan dining sets?

Natural rattan dining sets and other garden furniture offer a pleasant, organic surface that looks truly ‘classic’ in almost any garden. It can also be painted or finished in nearly any colour. With proper care, it can last for years, or even decades.

Synthetic rattan garden furniture is much more resistant to moisture, and generally lasts a bit longer than natural rattan. It can be less resistant to UV from sunlight, and it can look a bit less ‘premium’ in some gardens.



What are the benefits of rattan vs. wicker dining sets?

This is really a false question, as most rattan furniture is both rattan (the material) and wicker (the technique used to weave the rattan into shapes and structures). You can have non-wicker rattan, but this is very uncommon.


What to consider when choosing a rattan garden furniture set


Usage How will you be using your furniture? Occasional barbecues, or constant poolside furniture? A dining set that will sit in the open air all season, or one that will remain under a roof or inside a garden structure? Have a thought about how you want to use it, before you buy.
Space The set you choose will need to fit inside your garden, with room to move as well. Make careful measurements of the space before buying. 
Storage If you intend to store your rattan furniture inside during the colder months (which is by far the best option), you’ll need to pick something that you have the space to store. Our Roma and Barcelona ranges are particularly easy to store, for example. 
Budget Some sets are less expensive than others, but also consider how long they will last. Replacement cost is also a factor. 
Seats If you will regularly be entertaining, or feeding a family of 8, you’ll need a large garden dining set than the couple who want a small table for their balcony.  
Shape Round tables are better for entertaining, sharing food, and adding extra guests. Rectangular tables may be a better match for pre-existing garden features or the space overall. Oval tables offer many of the benefits of both, as well as a unique, striking appearance. 
Quality  Do you know how to tell if Rattan furniture is good quality? Honestly, you have to trust the company you are buying from here. A good reputation tells you more than mere appearance does. 
Weave Type   What are the different weave types for Rattan furniture? The most common are the Flat Weave, the Round Weave and the Half-Round Weave. However, there are plenty of more exotic or old-fashioned weaves, including hole-to-hole, pressed cane, porch cane, and many others. 
Usage How will you be using your furniture? Occasional barbecues, or constant poolside furniture? A dining set that will sit in the open air all season, or one that will remain under a roof or inside a garden structure? Have a thought about how you want to use it, before you buy.
Space The set you choose will need to fit inside your garden, with room to move as well. Make careful measurements of the space before buying. 
Storage If you intend to store your rattan furniture inside during the colder months (which is by far the best option), you’ll need to pick something that you have the space to store. Our Roma and Barcelona ranges are particularly easy to store, for example. 
Budget Some sets are less expensive than others, but also consider how long they will last. Replacement cost is also a factor. 
Number of Seats If you will regularly be entertaining, or feeding a family of 8, you’ll need a large garden dining set than the couple who want a small table for their balcony.  
Shape Round tables are better for entertaining, sharing food, and adding extra guests. Rectangular tables may be a better match for pre-existing garden features or the space overall. Oval tables offer many of the benefits of both, as well as a unique, striking appearance. 
Quality  Do you know how to tell if Rattan furniture is good quality? Honestly, you have to trust the company you are buying from here. A good reputation tells you more than mere appearance does. 
Weave Type   What are the different weave types for Rattan furniture? The most common are the Flat Weave, the Round Weave and the Half-Round Weave. However, there are plenty of more exotic or old-fashioned weaves, including hole-to-hole, pressed cane, porch cane, and many others. 


How to identify woven chair seat patterns


Flat Weave

Flat weave rattan is just like it sounds – a single, thin layer of material. It is often used because it is particularly lightweight.

Round & Half Round Weave      

Round and half round weave is a thicker, more three-dimensional shape. It is heavier, but sometimes stronger than flat weave.

 

Garden Size / Ranges


Small

Small gardens perforce require small dining sets. Bistro Sets are very popular right now, and do simulate dining at a tiny bistro table quite well. Some small gardens can accommodate a long, thin rectangular table though.


Medium to large

If you have more space, you have many more options. Large round tables can be quite elegant, if you can fit it, its chairs, and a bit of room to move. Longer rectangular or oval tables have the same luxurious effect, but are better for more midrange spaces.

 

Style


Shape Curved or rounded wicker furniture is very popular, and is perhaps the strongest, physically. It is also much easier to accommodate one or 2 extra chairs, if no one has to sit ‘at the corner’. 
Rectangular or cubed garden dining furniture can be more striking, especially if it conforms to (or contrasts against) the shape of your garden space. 
Colour Colour is of course a very personal decision, and has more to do with what you like to see in your garden than abstract principles. Luckily, wicker furniture can be bought in a wide variety of colours, and natural wicker takes paint and stains very well.                
Comfort  Is rattan furniture comfortable? It certainly can be, but that varies between people as much as between different pieces of furniture. Many rattan chairs feature a deep seat and a high back, and can be very comfortable indeed with the right cushions. Cushions will also greatly extend the life of your furniture, so long as the cushions are not left out in the rain.
Table Top    Rattan tables are available with a wide variety of hard tops, and the choice of which is largely cosmetic. Glass is very popular, as it is sturdy and easy to clean. Wood is also a lovely choice, but your options are nearly limitless. 
Accessories How to protect your rattan furniture, and enjoy it more? A few accessories will help. For example:
  • Cushions are practically a ‘must’, as they protect the furniture and make it more comfortable
  • Covers can greatly increase the set’s useful life, especially if it is to be stored outside.
  • Table-wear – Some kind of table-wear is essential, so why not chose a complimentary style?
  • Lazy Susans are extremely useful for round or oval tables, and quite convenient.
Shape Curved or rounded wicker furniture is very popular, and is perhaps the strongest, physically. It is also much easier to accommodate one or 2 extra chairs, if no one has to sit ‘at the corner’. 
Rectangular or cubed garden dining furniture can be more striking, especially if it conforms to (or contrasts against) the shape of your garden space. 
Colour Colour is of course a very personal decision, and has more to do with what you like to see in your garden than abstract principles. Luckily, wicker furniture can be bought in a wide variety of colours, and natural wicker takes paint and stains very well.                
Comfort  Is rattan furniture comfortable? It certainly can be, but that varies between people as much as between different pieces of furniture. Many rattan chairs feature a deep seat and a high back, and can be very comfortable indeed with the right cushions. Cushions will also greatly extend the life of your furniture, so long as the cushions are not left out in the rain.
Table Top    Rattan tables are available with a wide variety of hard tops, and the choice of which is largely cosmetic. Glass is very popular, as it is sturdy and easy to clean. Wood is also a lovely choice, but your options are nearly limitless. 
Accessories How to protect your rattan furniture, and enjoy it more? A few accessories will help. For example:
  • Cushions are practically a ‘must’, as they protect the furniture and make it more comfortable
  • Covers can greatly increase the set’s useful life, especially if it is to be stored outside.
  • Table-wear – Some kind of table-wear is essential, so why not chose a complimentary style?
  • Lazy Susans are extremely useful for round or oval tables, and quite convenient.

 

How do you clean rattan furniture?


Cleaning your rattan furniture varies depending on whether it is natural or synthetic. Natural rattan should be cleaned with a soft moist cloth or very gently with soap, then allowed to dry fully in the sun. Synthetic rattan can be scrubbed a bit more vigorously, or simply ‘hosed off’. As always though, follow the care and cleaning instructions that come with your garden set.

For more detailed information on how to look after your Rattan dining set check out our Rattan clean and care guide.