Can Rattan Furniture Be Left in the Rain?

Can Rattan Furniture Be Left Outside in the Rain?

What Happens if Rattan Gets Wet? Caring for Rain-Soaked Natural Ratton Furniture

Can Rattan Furniture Be Left in the Rain?

Rattan furniture has become increasingly popular for contemporary outdoor spaces due to its natural beauty, versatility, and craftsmanship. With its ability to withstand the rigors of outdoor living, it’s understandable that some may assume rattan is impervious to all weather conditions. However, the truth is rattan can become damaged when left out in the rain, despite its hardiness.

So, can rattan furniture be left out in the rain?

If it’s made from synthetic ratton then yes, as it is designed for outdoor use. If it’s made from natural rattan then no. Natural rattan furniture should never be left out in the rain unattended. Exposure to rainwater will cause damage to natural rattan fibers leading to irreversible swelling, mold growth, discoloration, cracks, and accelerated structural deterioration.

In this article, we’ll explore in detail the reasons natural rattan suffers water damage, steps to prevent rain damage, and how to care for natural rattan furniture if it does get wet.

With proper preventative measures and care, rattan’s aesthetic appeal and structural integrity can be preserved. Let’s take a deeper look at protecting rattan furniture from the rain.

Reasons Rattan Furniture Gets Damaged by Rain

To understand why rain damages rattan furniture, it’s helpful to first understand what rattan is made of.

The Composition of Rattan

Rattan is derived from several species of palm vines native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia. It’s harvested and processed into poles, sticks, and wickerwork.

There are over 600 species of rattan palms, but only about 13 are used in rattan production. Most commercial rattan comes from the species Calamus manan.

After harvesting, the outer bark is peeled off and the inner cores are dried and treated. These rattan poles are then woven into various shapes and patterns to create weaving, cane, and wickerwork furniture.

Quality rattan furniture will be constructed from 100% natural rattan material. Some low-end rattan furniture uses a rattan veneer over cheaper materials. Always examine workmanship when purchasing.

Why Rattan is Prone to Rain Damage

Rattan’s natural origins make it prone to the effects of moisture and rainwater. When the natural fibers become saturated, swelling, warping, splitting, cracking, and even mold growth can occur. Rattan will also deteriorate more quickly from regular exposure to rain and the elements. Let’s look at some of the common types of damage:

  • Swelling – When rattan becomes waterlogged, it can swell up and distort in shape. This swelling can lead to rattan becoming out of round.
  • Warping – Exposure to rain can cause rattan to warp or bend out of shape, especially pieces like rattan table tops.
  • Cracking – As rattan swells and dries repeatedly, cracks can form throughout the material, compromising its structural integrity.
  • Mold Growth – Damp rattan left out in rainy or humid conditions can develop unsightly mold growth. This not only makes it look unappealing but can begin to break down the rattan.
  • Discoloration – Rain and sun exposure can cause the natural finish of rattan to become bleached and faded over time.
  • Deterioration – Frequent rain accelerates the deterioration of rattan fibers. Pieces will become brittle and start splintering and unraveling.

Examples of Rain Damage

Here are some examples of what can happen to rattan furniture when it gets repeatedly saturated in the rain:

  • Rattan chair seats that swell and bubble up, making them unusable
  • Outdoor rattan table tops that warp and prevent items from sitting flush
  • Wicker peeling up and unraveling on the corners of a rattan chest
  • Fine cracks spreading across the frame of a rattan daybed
  • Mold spots forming on rattan cabinet doors left in humid rainforest conditions

As you can see, water and rain can wreak havoc on rattan furniture. The effects range from cosmetic damage affecting its looks to functional impairment impacting its structure and durability. It’s best not to take any chances.

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Preventing Rain Damage to Rattan Furniture

The good news is rain damage can be prevented with proper care and maintenance. Here are some tips to protect your rattan furniture from the rain:

Storage and Coverings

  • Store it Indoors – The simplest solution is to keep rattan furniture inside a shed, garage, or covered patio area when not in use. This prevents rain exposure entirely.
  • Use Furniture Covers – For rattan furniture that remains outdoors, investing in waterproof furniture covers is wise. Ensure covers fit snugly and are secured in windy conditions. Look for breathable covers.

Maintenance Practices

  • Apply Protective Sealants – Sealing rattan furniture helps repel moisture. Look for clear sealants safe for outdoor rattan. Reapply yearly or after heavy rains.
  • Choose Synthetic Rattan – Synthetic rattan made from resin or wicker over an aluminum frame is impervious to rain damage. This is ideal for uncovered areas.
  • Allow for Drainage – With porch rattan furniture, ensure water can drain through the floorboards underneath. Pooling water accelerates deterioration.
  • Bring Indoors Before Rain – If storms are forecasted, proactively move rattan furniture into a sheltered area. Don’t wait for the first raindrops.
  • Remove Cushions – Take off rattan chair and sofa cushions when not in use. Wet cushions left on furniture can transfer moisture.

Ideal Protective Sealants

When applying a protective sealant to rattan, look for water-based polyurethane formulas. Oil-based sealants can darken rattan. Always spot-test new sealants first. Ideal sealants include:

  • Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
  • Varathane Premium Outdoor Polyurethane
  • Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane
  • Tried & True Original Wood Finish

Reapply protective sealants once a year or after heavy rain. Follow manufacturer application and drying instructions closely.

Staying diligent with preventative steps will ensure your rattan furnishings stay looking their best, despite the occasional rain shower.

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Caring for Rattan After Rain Exposure

Even with preventative measures, unexpected rainy days happen. Here is how to care for rattan furniture that gets wet:

Immediate Drying

As soon as possible after getting wet, use clean absorbent towels to gently blot moisture from all rattan surfaces. Pay special attention to woven corners and joints which can retain water. For lighter rattan pieces, carefully flip them upside down to allow water to drain out of hollow poles and channels. Standing water can cause faster deterioration and mold growth.

Bring towels outdoors and replace with dry ones as needed to catch all residual drips. Don’t rub aggressively as this can damage the rattan finish.

Allowing to Dry Thoroughly

After the initial manual drying, rattan requires 1-3 full days to dry out completely. This depends on humidity levels. Move furniture into a dry-covered space like a patio or garage with good airflow all around each piece. Position a fan to circulate air if needed.

Check for any remaining damp spots each day, using more towels to catch moisture. All areas should feel uniformly dry to touch before considering rattan restored to pre-rain condition.

In-Depth Inspection

Once rattan appears dry, carry out a detailed inspection in good lighting. Scan for any swelling, bubbling, or peeling of the material. Look for fine cracks starting in vulnerable join areas. Check for spots of mold growth which can embed deep into the fibers.

Watch for bleached sections or faded color tones indicating sun and water damage to the finish. If any concerning signs are present, rattan may require refinishing or resealing after fully drying.

Corrective Steps

For rattan furniture with only minor surface issues like light mold or bleaching after rain exposure, sanding and refinishing can restore appearance. Start by sanding down any finish deterioration and mold growth using 300-grit sandpaper.

Wipe sanded areas with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution to clean. Allow to fully dry again. Apply fresh sealant following manufacturer instructions. Match the existing finish sheen and tone as closely as possible.

If structural integrity has been compromised through extensive cracking or splitting, replacement is recommended. Attempting rattan repairs risks premature failure in weakened areas. Consult a professional about complex rattan repairs.

Related Questions

How Long Does Rattan Last Outdoors?

When kept fully protected from the elements, quality rattan furniture can last 5-7 years outdoors. However, rattan left continuously exposed to rain, sun, and humidity will deteriorate much faster, lasting only 2-3 years before requiring replacement.

Applying protective sealants yearly and covering rattan furniture when not in use extends the lifespan. Synthetic rattan lasts longer outdoors than natural rattan. But even synthetic rattan will eventually fade and degrade without proper care. Regular inspection for damage is recommended to get the maximum usage from outdoor rattan.

Does Rattan Furniture Go Moldy?

Yes, rattan can absolutely develop mold when left in damp conditions. The natural plant fibers provide the perfect environment for mold growth when moisture is present. Tiny black or green mold spots will begin to appear on rattan left outside during humid or rainy weather.

Over time, unattended mold can spread across entire surfaces, embedding into the rattan fibers. This not only looks unsightly but can make the furniture unsafe through mold exposure. Stopping the spread of mold requires sanding down the rattan in affected areas and refinishing.

Preventing outdoor rattan from going moldy involves sealing, proper drainage, dry storage, and immediate drying after rain. Indoor rattan can also develop mold if exposed to leaks, flooding, or high humidity. Proper moisture control prevents mold.

How to Protect Indoor Rattan Furniture

For rattan used inside the home, moisture and spills are the main concerns. Avoid placing rattan furniture near sources of excess moisture like bathrooms or laundry rooms. Raise rattan off wet carpeting and ensure it has good airflow around it.

When cleaning rattan, use a barely damp cloth and immediately dry. Vacuum rattan regularly to prevent dust buildup. Wipe spills promptly to avoid saturation. Apply protectants made specifically for indoor rattan about once a year. Bringing rattan outdoors during periods of high interior humidity can also be helpful.

How to Protect Outdoor Rattan Furniture

To protect outdoor rattan furniture, use furniture covers secured tightly when not in use. Store cushion inserts separate from rattan frames to prevent moisture transfer. Choose rain-proof cushion exterior fabric.

Apply outdoor sealants to rattan at the start of each season. Ensure proper drainage under porch rattan furniture. Inspect for signs of damage after storms. Bring lighter rattan pieces fully indoors if heavy rains or hurricanes are forecast.

Wipe down outdoor rattan regularly to prevent dirt buildup leading to deterioration. Rinse off bird droppings which can damage the finish. Maintain proper footing pads under rattan to prevent saturation from below.

Can You Leave Synthetic Rattan Furniture Outside?

Synthetic rattan made from all-weather resin is more water and UV-resistant than natural rattan. However, it still requires some protection when used continuously outdoors. Over time, the synthetic material can become brittle and faded without care.

Apply outdoor sealants to help repel water and prevent mildew growth on synthetic rattan. Use furniture covers when not in use to protect from sun and wind damage. Inspect for signs of wear and re-coat with sealant annually. Avoid leaving synthetic cushion covers on for extended wet periods.

While synthetic rattan lasts longer outside than natural cane, it cannot be left fully exposed to the elements indefinitely. Taking steps to shield it from rain and sun will extend its lifespan and looks. Properly maintained, it can last over 10 years outdoors.


In summary, rattan furniture is prone to water damage and should never be left out uncovered in the rain. Rattan’s organic construction from palm leaves makes it susceptible to irreparable swelling, warping, mold growth, discoloration and deterioration when exposed to rainwater over time.

To prevent damage, store rattan furniture indoors or use protective covers when not in use. Apply sealants formulated for outdoor rattan at least annually. Ensure proper drainage under rattan patio sets. Bring pieces under cover at the first sign of storms. Promptly dry rattan after rain exposure and inspect for any swelling or mold development.

With diligent preventative maintenance and care, rattan can retain its beauty for many years without sustaining major water damage.