Complete Guide to Wicker Outdoor Furniture: Things To Know

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 5 min.

When I began articles about which outdoor furniture lasts the longest, I never thought it would become a series. Since then, I’ve written not only about wicker as a material for outdoor furniture but also about how to care for different types of wicker furniture. People still have more questions! 

Wicker furniture has been popular for thousands of years. The natural feel of it can warm indoor rooms while the practical comfort can be perfect for your outdoor space. Just be sure you know which kind you have and take care of it according to make sure it lasts a very long time.

I plan on going into more detail by answering the questions you have about wicker furniture in this article. All you have to do is read it! 

Let’s get going

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What is Wicker Furniture? 

Just know that when someone mentions “wicker” it doesn’t necessarily refer to the material, but the weave of that material. Wicker is a type of woven form – sometimes artwork, sometimes usable things (baskets), and sometimes furniture. Our focus is wicker furniture made out of a natural material such as rattan, willow, reed, or bamboo and wicker made from synthetic resin or vinyl. Want to know more? I wrote a more detailed article about it. 

Can Wicker Be Used for Indoor Furniture? 

It’s the weave and the warmth of the natural wood look that makes wicker furniture easy to use both indoors and out. Usually, designers stay with one medium to large wicker piece in the room or a set. I’ve noticed a lot of sunrooms furnished with wicker. 

If you want to get natural wicker for indoors, it might be more expensive than factory-made because these are hand-woven pieces. There are also pieces that are considered antique. If you want some lovely natural wicker but can’t afford the furniture, look for baskets or other pieces of art made with wicker weave. 

A lot of people will paint their wicker or mix it up with pops of color using pillows or throws. Even though a lot of wicker furniture is made of natural material and is more appropriate for indoors, it’s traditionally an outdoor/sunroom/ patio material. So putting it indoors sets a room off. It’s actually been a trend for a while.  

Just don’t forget what your wicker furniture is made of. If you have indoor wicker furniture made of natural materials like reed, willow, bamboo, or rattan – it can deteriorate and rot outside. So before you move them on a whim figure out if you should. 

How Can You Tell If Wicker Furniture is Antique? 

Wicker furniture can be very old. Did you know it was a form of furniture art from the Middle East? Actually, rattan woven into wicker has been accounted for in Ancient Egypt and Sumeria. It didn’t become popular in the west until the Victorian Era. During the “Arts and Crafts” design movement in the early 1900s, wicker had its first revival and then had a comeback in America during the 1960s. 

The point is, there are various styles woven in each era that wicker became popular. People who look for antique wicker know what companies to look for. Heywood Brother & Company or Wakefield Company are both makers of wicker furniture from the 1870s – 1880s. These companies later merged, so anything labeled Heywood-Wakefield came from the late 19th century and early 20th century. 

Design experts also know the styles to look for that are known to be vintage wicker. For instance, some obvious features of Victoria Wicker are:

  • Splayed Legs
  • The use of reed over rattan
  • Spit Curl Wooden Bead Trim
  • A Curved Spiral Design

You can look this kind of information up yourself and make estimations, or you can have a professional take a look at your natural wicker furniture to tell you if it is antique, and if so, how much it’s worth. 

Is Wicker Good for Outdoor Furniture?

Absolutely. However, most outdoor frames for wicker furniture are made of aluminum which is water-resistant and stronger. Also, the weave itself is made from resin or plastic material. That will last longer while being outside. 

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) wicker can be infused with UV Inhibitors to prevent fading. HDPE also makes the wicker materials the same color through and through so your furniture is nearly immune to scratches and nicks. Or at the very least, those things are less noticeable.

Does Wicker Outdoor Furniture Degrade?

It does. Wear and tear along with weather, climate, and dirt can degrade wicker. But wicker made of resin or made for outdoor spaces is also made stronger than natural wicker. It usually also has an aluminum base which makes it stronger as well. 

Indoor wicker made of natural materials on the other hand shouldn’t be outdoors at all. Even if you were to paint it or spray it with sealant, due to the intricate weaving, that wouldn’t protect the material from weather or UV rays or the elements. Wicker is just very finicky. If it’s too moist it can rot, if it’s too dry it can dry out and dry-rot.

If you are seriously looking at picking up some wicker outdoor furniture then go over and check out my article on how to extend the life of your wicker furniture.

How Can You Make Wicker Last?

I’m going to assume this question came from someone who is worried bout their outdoor resin wicker set. For one thing, you can cover wicker over the winter months that you’re not using, or put it away in storage. When you do, be sure to clean it beforehand. 

Scratches can lead to deterioration, so be careful about moving wicker furniture around and storing it. The fewer bumps and bruises, the better. Since wicker furniture is often found indoors, perhaps you can find a nice handy spot for your outdoor furniture – on the inside during rough weather or winter?

I wrote an article where I compared the durability in years of each type of outdoor furniture material and you can find that article here. If you are curious how wicker stacks up then check it out.