Is Wicker your Outdoor Furniture Style

Outdoor wicker furniture is very popular for both indoor and outdoor. It comes in many shapes and sizes, and with proper care and maintenance a high quality wicker piece will last for decades. Most people, though, do not know what wicker furniture is really made of or its origins as a furniture making material. So let’s take a closer look at wicker and rattan furniture history, construction, and care.

What is wicker?

Wicker is a generic term used to describe any product that is made by weaving together stems or vines. The word itself has Scandinavian origins, there is a discussion whether it was swedish furniture, or norwegian roots, but the use of woven vines to make furniture dates back as far as the days of Egyptian pharaohs. For centuries, willow was the preferred type of vine for making wicker products.

For the last 150 years or so, high quality wicker products made in the United States have been made with vines from the Rattan plant. This plant grows only in the rainforest areas of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. The most highly prized and durable rattan vine is the honey rattan from Southeast Asia.

Why is wicker so durable?

Wicker is more durable than you might think. Americans are accustomed to building and manufacturing with sturdy products like wood, so the idea of a rattan vine being strong runs counter to most people’s experience.

In fact, the rattan vine is extremely strong because it is filled with fibers running the length of the vine. This gives it great strength and flexibility, much like a multistrand coaxial cable. Because the internal fibers are flexible, the vine can be bent and woven into many different shapes. And because the internal fibers are strong, they will not splinter or break during the bending and weaving process.

When did wicker furniture become popular?

Wicker furniture first became popular in England and America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the designs were similar to the simple and elegant lines of Victorian-era furniture, but without the tremendous expense and bulk of traditional wood furniture.

As leisure time and vacation homes expanded in the 20th century, wicker once again surged in popularity as a sturdy but lightweight material for casual indoor furniture and outdoor patio furniture. Today it can be found in all price ranges and wide range of styles to suit any taste and décor.

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Proper Care of Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture is sturdy enough to be cleaned with a garden hose or pressure washer. You generally only need to rinse it thoroughly with clean water to wash away dirt and grime, but if the furniture is extremely dirty it can be cleaned gently with a soft sponge and mild soapy water.

Wicker furniture is often left in its natural color, but it is also frequently painted white or a similar light color. Painted wicker that is not high quality will tend to flake off bits of paint as it weathers, so be careful if it gets dirty enough to require washing with a sponge. Occasional touch ups using a spray-painting gun will keep painted wicker protected and looking great.

Painting Wicker Furniture–Tips and Hints

Painting Wicker Furniture–Tips and Hints

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All Weather Furniture Resistance

Wicker furniture is naturally weather resistant, but it is not fully weather proof so you need to take precautions to prevent weather damage. Do not leave wicker furniture in direct sunlight for long periods of time, and avoid placing it in locations where it will be subject to excessive wind or rain.

In the off-season, the pads and cushions from your wicker furniture should be stored inside your home or the garage. If space allows, move the furniture itself inside, too. When this is not possible, opt instead for covering the furniture with a tarp or other protective cover and put it in a spot outside where it is sheltered somewhat from the worst of winter weather.

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