Synthetic Rattan Furniture
Outdoor furniture made from synthetic rattan is a fast growing area, and there is a diverse range now available, covering a broad range of prices.
There is also a lot of sales pitching going on ! As a customer, you need to interpret fact from fiction - pure sales fantasy or real issues.
Here are our thoughts and experiences. We've seen a lot of product, been to many trade shows and have built up enough experience to sort the good from the bad.
An aluminium frame is preferred to a steel frame. (refer to our Sika Design furniture for an exception where the frame has been treated through a cataphoresis process)
Aluminium frames are light and can not rust. However aluminium can corrode and it is not as strong. Clearly a heavier item is an indication that the tubing thickness is more substantial. The tubes should be treated with a high quality painted surface to prevent corrosion.
Look for a polyethylene synthetic wicker over a PVC wicker as it is better quality. Ensure that the colour is inpregnated all the way through the resin and not just applied to the surface. Otherwise a scratch will expose a different colour underneath.
High quality synthetic wickers will often have a highlight colour to create a 2-tone effect. It may also have a lustre. Usually, the quality of the wicker will be quite evident just from a visual look. Better quality wickers will have a quality UV inhibitor and dye pigments.
Top quality furniture will demonstrate an even wicker pattern, which is woven tightly and with very little / no gaps between the wicker. Wicker that is loose is representative of poor weaving and/or weak wicker.
Flip the item underneath and check the underside of the item. The frames should have good quality welding joints and the wicker work should look neat and tidy. In particular, look at the wicker terminations (where the wicker is stapled to the chair). Make sure stainless steel staples are used, and the terminations are tidy.
Check the feet and ensure they are good quality fittings.
If it is a chair, test it for comfort and style... Often, chairs destined for Europe have generous seat bases.
We have often found that chairs designed in Asia are smaller when put up against their European counterparts. Perhaps this is a cost saving exercise, or they are just sized for smaller bodies. Regardless, you will generally notice that chairs designed in Europe are larger and deeper, adding to overall comfort.