The Ultimate Wicker Furniture Buying Guide: A Step-by-Step Handbook

The Ultimate Wicker Furniture Buying Guide: A Step-by-Step Handbook

Wicker is one of the hottest trends in home décor, and it is easy to see why. With its classic elegance, ageless appeal, versatility, and durability, it offers homeowners a variety of options to choose from.

While decorating with wicker is a good choice, there are several considerations. Its wide range of styles, materials, and categories can overwhelm novice shoppers and distract them from their shopping goals. 

Before you set out on a wicker shopping spree, read through our comprehensive wicker furniture buying guide

This wicker furniture buying guide provides a detailed framework outlining diverse wicker materials, wicker weaves, budgets, wicker sets, and other aspects to help you design the ideal wicker retreat for your home. 

Wicker Furniture 101: What Does “Wicker” Mean?

Contrary to popular belief, wicker isn’t a material, but rather a specialized weaving technique that produces the unique design we see and love. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt when it was commonly employed to construct long-lasting homeware and furniture. 

Back then, artisans created wicker ware from flexible natural materials such as reed, willow, bamboo, water hyacinth, grass, and rattan.

These natural resources are still used in wicker production today. Rattan, for example, is a popular material for making wicker goods. 

Natural materials are no longer exclusively used to make wicker furniture in the modern day. Temperature and weather conditions necessitate using synthetic materials in wicker furniture production for long-term use. 

Let's explore the differences between these two materials and why they're crucial to consider while buying wicker furniture.

Wicker Furniture Buying Guide Step 1: Differentiating Between Natural Vs. Synthetic Wicker

Did you know indoor and outdoor wicker furniture can be vastly different? Read ahead to understand how.

Synthetic Wicker – Great for Outdoor Use

The modern world loves organic products. Most homeowners would also like their homes to reflect this natural philosophy. 

While wicker constructed from natural materials seems appealing on paper, it is unsuitable for outdoor use. Natural materials such as cane, rattan, and bamboo require utmost care and attention. They are not resistant to external elements such as heat, water, and dust. 

Note: Prolonged exposure to these elements can cause their natural fibers to break down, leading them to deteriorate faster than indoors. 

The only viable substitute is a synthetic material. Its manufacturing approach yields exceptional tensile strength. Some materials also retain the lightweight properties of natural wicker. 

During the process, synthetic materials are dyed a natural wicker color first. They are then cut into thin strips (similar to natural fibers) and weaved together to mimic the appearance and style of real wicker furniture.

The process uses synthetic materials such as:

  • PVC
  • Resin
  • Polyethylene
  • Vinyl

Many of these materials yield “all-weather outdoor furniture”, thanks to their optimal durability and resistance to:

  • Color fading
  • Warping
  • Cracking
  • Mold/mildew
  • Water damage/moisture

Synthetic outdoor furniture retains the classic appeal and elegance of genuine wicker furniture despite its non-natural element.

Natural Wicker – Great for Indoor Use

If you're purchasing wicker indoor furniture, you can choose all-natural wicker furniture. Natural wicker thrives well indoors, away from the sun and weather. However, being indoors doesn’t mean you can just forgo cleaning. Natural wicker furniture requires careful maintenance even when used indoors.

It should be cleaned with a gentle soap every few months, besides vacuuming and dusting. If you live in a humid climate, you should regularly inspect natural wicker for mold or mildew. 

To protect and extend the life of indoor natural wicker furniture, a lacquer sealant against moisture is a good option. 

Wicker Furniture Buying Guide Step 2: How to Choose the Right Material for Your Wicker Furniture

Knowledge about quality standards will help you choose the best wicker furniture for your home. Before you invest, consider the following criteria:

Inner Frame Material Check

When you go to a furniture store, what is the first thing you do? Sit on the furniture and examine how it feels, right? 

This is a critical step in establishing whether the furniture has good bones. Strong construction is the cornerstone of high-quality furniture, and you don't want to skimp on this. A durable structure also reflects the quality of the materials employed in its construction. 

Anything that seems flimsy, unsupportive, or just weak, no matter how wonderful it looks, is a red flag. When you go furniture shopping, always examine the inner frame of the wicker furniture. 

The difference between premium quality and inexpensive, knock-off wicker furniture is a high-tensile inner frame. 

Nowadays, most high-quality outdoor wicker furniture employs a metal frame. Even if you're shopping online, ensure the wicker furniture you're eyeing has an inner frame made from one of the following materials:

Aluminum

Aluminum is the golden medium for wicker furniture. Aside from its structural superiority, its lightweight properties are a big plus because everyone desires conveniently movable furniture. 

Some of its other benefits include:

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to clean (in coastal areas, must be wiped with a moist towel) 
  • Durable

Powder-coated metal furniture is a bonus. This layer of defense ensures maximum weather resistance. 

Steel

If you want something more durable, consider wicker furniture with a steel frame. It is also a more affordable choice. Its sturdiness is a plus, but steel is corrosive and invites rust. 

Other materials to consider are wrought iron and wood. While wood is attractive, it is not as durable as its metallic equivalents. Caring for hardwood frames is also twice as difficult, especially for outdoor furniture. 

Wrought iron is an appealing alternative in terms of price and durability. The sole disadvantage is its heavyweight nature, which is an advantage if you live in windy locations.

Considering Wicker Weave

Now that we've addressed the structural aspects of wicker furniture, let's move on to the principal weave. Wicker employs a variety of synthetic materials, each with its distinct benefits and drawbacks. 

Here's a rundown of each::

  • Resin Wicker: Another name for resin wicker is all-weather wicker because it is a hard plastic derived from organic components. This makes it resistant to water, scratches, and bumps. It is both long-lasting and inexpensive.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl has a similar quality to PVC. While this is a low-cost wicker material, it does not last as long as other materials.
  • Polyvinyl chloride aka PVC: Another low-cost wicker option is PVC. Unlike resin though, PVC is not designed to survive for years and tends to peel off/fade after a few years of use. 
  • Polyethylene (PE) and High-density Polyethylene (HDPE): Polyethylene is a low-density polyethylene commonly used in wicker furniture. It is also known as "PE Rattan" since it mimics the appearance of rattan. 

HDPE, or High-density Polyethylene, is a superior choice offering numerous benefits, including:

  • High sturdiness and durability
  • UV-protective layer making it resistant to sun exposure.
  • Sustainable
  • A natural-looking finish resembling organic wicker.

Choosing the Right Fabric

When it comes to outdoor furniture, one has to accept the possibility of sun, rain, or wind ruining your patio setup more than once. If you plan on having social gatherings or parties, there is the risk of messy spills. 

Don't limit your search for high-quality wicker furniture to the weave and frame. Choose a fabric that can withstand the rigors of outdoor living while still maintaining an aesthetic balance. You can consider one of the following textiles based on your needs, your location, and the predominant climate:

Polyester:

  • Water and moisture resistance
  • Stain- and tear-resistant
  • Fast drying time
  • Available in a variety of colors and pattern

Note that polyester fabric is not the best choice for sunny climes. When exposed to prolonged sunlight, it can deteriorate. If you choose this fabric, keep the furniture in a shaded place or use a parasol to protect it from UV rays.

Acrylic

  • Resistant to color fading
  • UV-resistant
  • No moisture damage

Textilene

  • Best choice for sunny climes
  • Waterproof and flame-resistant
  • Mold resistant

Wicker Furniture Buying Guide Step 3: Which is the Right Weave for Your Aesthetics?

Wicker furniture comes in all shapes and sizes, but its unique weave is limited to three types: full-round, half-round, and flat. 

Full- and Half-Round Wicker Weaves

One of the most beautiful patterns in wicker furniture, you can recognize the full-round wicker weave by its circular pattern. The close-knit pattern of a full-round weave ensures sturdiness, making it resistant to bumps and scratches. Its fuller weave is also attractive to buyers since it retains the luxurious aesthetic wicker is best known for. 

Half-round weaves are equally strong and durable as full-round weaves. The only distinction is they feature a semi-circular design

Flat Weave

Flatweaves feature a more linear and less elaborate design. They’re often indicative of low-quality wicker furniture. That said, high-quality wicker furniture also occasionally employs flat weaves. 

Choose furniture with a more textured surface if you prefer the look of a flat weave. A textured flat weave indicates better quality than furniture with plain flat weaves.

Wicker Furniture Buying Guide Step 4: Budgeting for Wicker Furniture

We may wax poetic about wicker furniture all day, but the truth is, it doesn’t come cheap. 

Good quality wicker furniture has a higher price point, but if you’re lucky, you can also find good budget deals on sale online. On average, wicker furniture sets can range in price from $500 (lower grade) to $5000 (high quality)

This doesn’t mean settling on either end of the price spectrum. You can find a pleasant middle ground for your wicker furniture purchases if you plan your budget well. 

The best way to accomplish this is to allocate your budget as per your furniture needs and it’s because of one simple reason: big-ticket furniture items deserve a larger share of your money. These are your sofas, wicker seating sets, or dining sets.

They will spend significant time outside, battling the sun, rain, dust, and grime. They must be of the highest quality to endure these factors, which drive up their price point. Think of it as a long-term investment that will pay for itself with durability, comfort, and aesthetic appeal. 

After you've purchased the main pieces of furniture, you can devote the remainder of your budget to smaller items like end tables and cushions for your wicker furniture, and other accessories. 

During adverse weather, you can stow away smaller objects. If there is damage, they will be easier (and less expensive) to replace. This method also allows you to freshen your furniture annually and brighten up the space without replacing the larger core pieces.

Wicker Furniture Buying Guide Step 5: Familiarize Yourself With These Wicker Furniture Categories

Wondering which wicker furniture to budget for? This step in our wicker furniture buying guide tackles this dilemma.

Big-Ticket Wicker Items (Sofas, Sectionals, Conversation Sets)

These functional wicker sets make up the heart of your outdoor space. They range from supersized sectionals for large family gatherings to plush sofas for lounging. You can select from a range of styles, fabrics, and colors.

Check out this luxurious modern sectional set made of HDPE resin wicker. Its powder-coated metal frame can withstand hours of exposure to the sun. It has a warm bronze wicker pattern and a variety of fabric choices for its cushions.  

You may also consider the sleek South Sea Rattan Chaise sofa made of handwoven HDPE wicker. 

Wicker Dining Sets for Gatherings

The patio is now a functional space that can accommodate a variety of social occasions, including family dinners. If you don't have a plan for your outdoor space, consider converting it into a dining area.

This casual, five-piece cushioned dining set provides the perfect haven for intimate meals beneath the stars. If you prefer a more formal setting, this elite seven-piece dining set with a rectangular glass table will leave your guests in awe.

You can also add standalone bar stools to your dining set. 

Small Wicker Furniture

These small decorative items and accessories are just what you need to liven up your outdoor space. Whether they’re ottomans, comfortable rockers, loveseats, or end tables, invest in or update existing pieces in your outdoor setting. 

If you want a simpler space, this wicker swing is a fantastic addition for a bit less than the options above. . 

Tip: Create an Eclectic Wicker Oasis

Consider a mix-and-match approach when purchasing wicker furniture to up your wicker game. Instead of buying one-dimensional matchy sets, select separate pieces for a more varied aesthetic reflecting your taste. Learn simple tricks to mix and match your patio furniture here

A Summary of the Wicker Furniture Buying Guide

Our guide gives you an easy-to-adapt framework for buying wicker furniture. It also shows you why wicker is an exceptional investment.

You need to do careful research to avoid wasting your money on low-quality furniture. You must examine the quality, comfort, and style of the wicker furniture. You should also know how to take care of your wicker furniture after you buy it.

You may not know what kind of wicker furniture you need for your patio space. We suggest that you plan your outdoor space according to your needs. Then, you can use our wicker category recommendations to choose the best one for you.

Now that you know how to buy wicker furniture correctly, you may wonder where to buy it. Don’t worry, we have the answer.

Modern Wicker is one of the best places to buy wicker furniture. We are a reputable retailer that specializes in high-quality wicker furniture. You can find a wide range of wicker furniture options on our website, including wicker dining sets and seating options. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Our staff will be happy to help you.