The Advantages and Disadvantages of Rattan Furniture

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Rattan Furniture

See some of the pros and cons of rattan furniture before buying pieces for your home

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Rattan Furniture

Rattan furniture has seen a surge in popularity, which was valued at USD 815.0 Million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 1.06 Billion by 2028, as homeowners look for natural and sustainable furnishings. The woven material made from rattan palm stems provides an organic, textural look that can complement many interior design styles.

But like any furniture material, rattan has both advantages and disadvantages to consider before purchasing. This article will provide an in-depth examination of the pros and cons of rattan furniture to help you determine if it’s the right choice for your home.

We’ll cover the aesthetic appeal, durability, cost, environmental sustainability, care and maintenance requirements, and style limitations of rattan. Understanding these key factors can ensure you select high-quality rattan pieces that stand the test of time.

Advantages of Rattan Furniture

Aesthetic Appeal

One of the biggest advantages of rattan furniture is its natural, organic visual appearance. The intricately woven texture adds visual interest and pairs well with many styles from coastal to bohemian chic. Rattan has a lighter color than many wood furniture varieties, providing a sunny, airy look.

The natural material can make a space feel warmer and more inviting. Unlike plastic wicker, rattan offers an authentic artisanal quality, with each piece slightly unique. High-end rattan is hand-woven in Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Asian countries, creating stunning, intricate patterns. The advantages of rattan products lie in their aesthetic versatility.

For example, a rattan dining chair provides texture and comfort for beach-themed rooms. A rattan hanging chair infuses a canopy with organic elegance. The light color prevents heaviness or gloominess. The same chair or sofa takes on a breezy, carefree vibe in a bohemian living space. A rattan headboard and bench lend a spa-like tranquility to a master suite. Rattan harmonizes with these varied styles through its natural beauty.

Lightweight Design

Rattan furniture tends to be much lighter than wood alternatives. A wooden dining chair may weigh 15-20 pounds versus 7–10 pounds for a rattan chair. Pieces made from rattan poles or cores wrapped in woven rattan are easy to lift and rearrange. The lightweight design also makes rattan furniture easier to ship than solid wood pieces.

This advantage makes rattan a practical option for frequently rearranged spaces. For example, rattan barstools can be moved between a kitchen island and dining table effortlessly. A rattan papasan chair weighs under 10 pounds for easy mobility. Lifting and moving rattan requires less physical exertion than solid wood equivalents.


High-quality rattan is remarkably durable for a natural fiber. With proper care and maintenance, it can potentially last for decades. Rattan’s flexibility allows it to give slightly under pressure rather than cracking or splitting like wood. It will gradually conform to the user’s body shape for customized comfort over time.

The best rattan comes from the core of younger rattan palms, where the “stems” are strongest. Look for thickness and firmness in rattan frames and poles. Avoid thin pieces prone to snapping. With its durability and longevity, rattan can represent a smart long-term investment.

For instance, vintage mid-century rattan furniture from the 1950s and 1960s is still widely available and functional, indicating life spans over 70 years. Well-made new rattan should provide similar longevity. Proper storage, cleaning and conditioning preserve rattan for generations of use.


Rattan furniture is generally more affordable than many wood alternatives. A rattan dining set may cost 35-50% less than a solid wood set. Wicker and rattan pieces can provide a comparable elegant, natural look at a more accessible price point. Handcrafted rattan may cost more for intricate weaving but remains reasonably priced.

Using rattan cores wrapped in woven material lowers manufacturing costs without sacrificing quality. The availability and renewability of rattan keeps costs down compared to scarcer woods. Rattan’s affordability makes it an attractive option for the budget-conscious. With some hunting, full rattan dining sets can be found for under $500 and chairs for under $100.

Eco-Friendly Material

Environmental advantages make rattan a conscientious furnishing choice. Rattan palms are not trees, meaning new shoots sprout after existing ones are harvested. The plants are easily renewed without the need to replant trees.

Rattan harvesting does not contribute to deforestation when properly regulated. Look for sustainably harvested rattan from plantations rather than wild jungle sources. The nonprofit Rattan Association provides sustainability certifications. Properly treated and maintained, rattan furniture can last for generations. The durability and renewability provide obvious environmental benefits.

Related articles:

Disadvantages of Rattan Furniture

Susceptible to Weather Damage

Rattan furniture intended for indoor use can become damaged when left outdoors. Prolonged sun exposure can cause rattan to dry out, warp, crack and break down. Wet weather promotes mildew and rot damage, destroying intricate weaves over time. Rattan expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity.

Storing rattan pieces in a garage or covered patio will extend their lifespan. Choosing synthetic all-weather wicker better withstands full outdoor placement. Using indoor rattan furniture outside voids warranties and constitutes misuse. Understanding these material limitations prevents costly weather deterioration.

Prone to Splitting and Fraying

Without proper maintenance, rattan may develop splits and frays from regular use over time. Dryness makes the material brittle and prone to splintering and unraveling. Moving the furniture across abrasive surfaces like tile or concrete can cause splits in the poles and frays in the weave. High traffic seating areas also show wear.

Applying protective sealants and handling rattan gently reduces splitting and fraying. Avoid dragging pieces across the floor, which strains weave points. Use felt pads beneath legs for smoother movement. Store cushions separately when not in use to maximize the rattan’s lifespan. Small splits can often be repaired if addressed promptly through reweaving and sealing.

Not Ideal for Outdoor Use

While all-weather wicker works beautifully outside, natural rattan is best suited for indoor use. The effects of sun, rain, snow and temperature swings will quickly degrade outdoor rattan. Using it outside also promotes mildew in the woven material.

Rattan expands and contracts as humidity levels change, leading to splits. Condensation also readily forms on rattan when moving it from hot outdoor settings into an air-conditioned space. These sensitivities make rattan a poor outdoor furniture choice in many climates. Only furnish covered porches with protected rattan pieces.

Requires Regular Maintenance

Like other natural materials, rattan needs regular care and maintenance. It should be dusted frequently with a soft brush to prevent buildup in crevices. Spills should be blotted immediately before staining or discoloration occurs.

Every few months, light sanding with fine 220-grit sandpaper smooths any rough spots in the weave and removes snags. Rattan must be sealed yearly to protect it from light and moisture damage. High-quality lacquer finishes need reapplication every two to three years. Waxing twice per year improves water resistance.

Thorough cleaning and monthly polishing with wax-based rattan conditioner keeps it looking its best. Neglected rattan will deteriorate faster than properly maintained pieces.

Limited Style and Color Options

Rattan has a narrower range of style options compared to other furniture materials. The look skews beachy, tropical, or bohemian. Rattan works best with casual, relaxed decor. Traditional, contemporary, and modern interiors may clash with rattan’s organic vibe.

Color choices are also more limited. Natural rattan provides a light tan color. Stains can adjust the tone but will appear in the brown, black, or gray color family. Painting rattan is not recommended for preserving the natural look. For expansive style and color versatility, materials like wood or fabric furnish more possibilities.

Summary: The Pros and Cons of Rattan Furniture

Aesthetic appealSusceptible to weather damage
Lightweight designProne to splitting and fraying
DurabilityNot ideal for outdoor use
AffordabilityRequires regular maintenance
Eco-friendly materialLimited style and color options

Related articles:


The advantages and disadvantages of rattan furniture make it a smart choice for certain spaces but less ideal for others. For beach houses, sunrooms, patios and laidback living spaces, few materials impart the breezy elegance of rattan. Its renewable nature and sustainable harvest methods appeal to the eco-conscious.

But rattan requires more specialized care to prevent splits, frays and mildew. It also has intrinsic style limitations. Ultimately, rattan works best for those desiring a casual, organic look in low-traffic living areas without outdoor exposure. Evaluating all factors allows for an informed rattan purchase suited for your unique needs and environment. With proper selection and care, rattan furniture can provide timeless, natural beauty.