How to Tell the Age of Wicker Furniture

What is wicker furniture?

Two terms are key to our understanding as to what is wicker furniture and they are wicker and rattan:

  • Wicker is a technique for weaving products out of cane-like materials.
  • Rattan is a material that comes from climbing plants and that given its flexible sturdy consistency is weaved into furniture.

Wicker furniture basically is made out of cane, durable rattan, raffia, and other natural fibers. The furniture is made by using an ancient method of weaving techniques mostly for baskets. Just like the basket weaving, the strips or reed are woven together using strips that have been soaked wet earlier in order to make the weaving process easy. Later on, the woven pieces are attached to a wooden structure for final shape and support.

Nowadays synthetic wicker furniture is also available in the market and is being used widely due to a lot of reasons but mainly because they are cheaper as compared to natural wicker furniture.

How to tell the age of wicker furniture?

How to Tell the Age of Wicker Furniture

It is very important to know the age of your wicker furniture before buying it. Wicker furniture is preferred for its durability and beautiful woven pattern hence it is very important that you invest in one wisely.

  • Do some research on wicker furniture sellers and do not just simply head out and trust the seller. Find out where you can buy authentic wicker furniture.
  • Carefully examine the wicker furniture that you are about to buy. Firstly, look at the bottom edges and corners as the old wicker furniture has some irregularities. The insides of the furniture and behind the doors is a good place to look for irregularities.
  • Styles and trends are always evolving and changing as time goes by. The same goes for the wicker furniture regarding its weaving styles. For example, the Chinese in the 15th century styled the wicker furniture in loosely weaving peacock shaped chair, which enjoys its long last popularity even until today.
  • Look out for the material from which the wicker furniture is made out of. As the old ones were handmade then considers having a close eye on the carvings, knobs, and spindles, to see if those are handmade or not. Walnut wood and mahogany are used to make wicker furniture.
  • If in case your research does not help you much then here are a few ways to find out for yourself.
    • Closely examine the material of the furniture. If the reed is of poor quality, then it will look dry and brittle.
    • Test the comfort grade of the wicker by sitting on it as this will tell you how sturdy the frame is.
    • If you want to check whether the furniture is contemporary or an older piece, then lift it up and see if it weighs light or heavy as older pieces of wicker furniture tend to be heavy because of their solid frames.
    • Labels on the furniture can help you figure out the age of the furniture as certain companies were there only for a specific time period.
    • Never forget to check for insect damage. To do so make a small hole in the wooden frame of the furniture and see if the interior is not eaten by them.

Natural and synthetic wicker furniture: which one to go for?

How to Tell the Age of Wicker Furniture

Natural wicker furniture

  • Natural wicker becomes dry and brittle as time goes by. With the passage of time, it will crack and cause the weave to unravel.
  • Insects and small pests are most likely to damage the natural wicker furniture.
  • Natural wicker may fade outside in the sun and during the rain water may seep in and cause damage, as it is permeable as a result the fabric may give in, on the seating area.
  • Natural wicker is best used indoors.

Synthetic wicker furniture

  • Synthetic wicker is infused with UV Inhibitors that saves the furniture from fading in the sun.
  • Synthetic wicker will not break, chip, or scratch and is also stain resistant.
  • Synthetic wicker is simple and easy to wash and clean.
  • Synthetic wicker still costs less than natural wicker and is more sustainable.
  • HDPE is 100% recyclable.
  • Synthetic wicker can also be used indoors and outdoors.

For me, the synthetic wicker works best and I would prefer it over natural wicker furniture.

Facts about wicker furniture

Here are some facts, good and not-so-good, on wicker furniture.

Wicker is not actually a type of material but rather the name of a process. Wicker as many may confuse it as being the material out of which the furniture is made but it is actually a process of weaving strips of either flexible rattan, willow, bamboo or reeds, or synthetic polyethylene fiber, also known as resin wicker. Natural wicker is woven onto a plant-based frame, while aluminum or tubular steel frame is used with resin wicker.

Natural wicker has been popular and in demand for centuries. Wicker furniture dates back over two millennia were found in the excavation of the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen. Wow! can you believe that?

Wicker furniture comes in a wide variety of styles. You have plenty of options to choose from – patio, living room, bedroom or children’s room furnishings; traditional, modern, country or industrial; loosely or densely woven – if that’s not already enough there is wicker furniture out there to suit your taste and your lifestyle. You will find tables, chairs, ottomans, sofas, dressers, beds, cradles, bookcases, storage units, home accessories, and more. Just go out there and look for one or maybe have it custom-made for you.

Comfortable and lightweight, the wicker is also strong. Due to its weaving process, wicker furniture has a comfortable amount of flexibility to it. It is easy to move and to rearrange to your liking because of it being light in weight. At the same time, the wicker is strong and very durable. For many people, natural wicker is scratchy to sit on, but don’t worry cushions are a quick solution to this problem.

Wicker is beautiful and mesmerizing. The natural color of plant-based wicker is in attractive shades of beige. But it may also be painted in the hue of your choice. Resin wicker comes in earthy colors like sage green, honey, and chocolate brown. How can something be so beautiful and a lot more at the same time!

Wicker furniture is also eco-friendly. Rattan is a sustainable tropical vine-like type of palm, and it grows comparatively faster than trees in the same region. Much of the synthetic material used in wicker production has been recycled. Hence, a large portion of wicker furniture comes from renewable resources.

At times natural wicker is used in combination with other materials to make furniture. If the chair seats or bookcase shelves are made of plywood, the glue used to attach them may off-gas hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde. Let the buyer beware!

The sun is damaging for untreated natural wicker, just as it is on human skin. Especially if you live in a hot dry climate. Revive and relax the wicker furniture on your deck with a soothing rub of lemon oil or boiled linseed oil.

Natural wicker is more prone to mold. Keep outdoor furniture fresh and extend its lifetime by bringing it inside during rainstorms and for the winter season. Trust me that will save you a lot of bucks.

A garden hose is all you need to clean – a great way to get the dirt out of those little nooks and crannies of your wicker furniture is to use a garden hose. Just make sure the furniture has no wooden parts and never saturate natural wicker with water. Set out in the sun to dry, or blow it with a hair dryer.

Sand down the rough spots on untreated plant-based wicker. Using fine-grained sandpaper gently buff it using a light hand.