Rattan has been a popular furniture choice in Britain for hundreds of years. With synthetic versions available in a range of styles and designs, nowadays rattan garden furniture is the perfect accessory for relaxing outside with family and friends, as well as dining alfresco and entertaining guests.

What is rattan and where does it come from?

It is a vine-like liana, a member of the palm family, which can grow to almost 2,000ft in the forests of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. The history of rattan furniture reaches back 200 years ago, when it was first imported to Britain from the Far East. Rattan furniture was mainly used in conservatories and drawing rooms and became hugely popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Synthetic rattan as modern alternative

Although rattan is a tough and versatile material, it won’t last long if subjected to harsh weather. These days, we have the choice of synthetic rattan furniture, which is well equipped for the outdoors and offers a durable alternative to traditional rattan. When furniture manufacturers realised weaving garden furniture in synthetic fibres, had the comfort and look of rattan furniture, they also realised it was durable enough for the outdoors.

1. longevity

We did say these points would be in no form of hierarchy but it’s hard not to see this as one of the most important reasons to invest in synthetic rattan. Artificially produced rattan furniture has a much longer lifespan than its authentic counterpart. In our more in-depth blog post, we mentioned that synthetic garden furniture could last anywhere between 10 and 20 years.

2. weatherproof properties

Okay, so this is kind of combining two points into one. But why does it last so much longer? Simply, because it’s crafted to be UV resistant and waterproof which real rattan doesn’t tend to be. Its weatherproof properties mean that it’s going to be much more hardy when left outside during the spring and summer months. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look after it, however!)

3. strength

Now, this next point may come as a surprise to some of you but synthetic rattan is a lot stronger than the real version. This is due to the fact that it is man-made and so doesn’t contain those natural fibres that can sometimes be the downfall of authentic rattan. This is another reason that synthetic furniture will last much longer as it is less prone to damage!

4. Lightweight

That being said, synthetic rattan furniture is a lot more lightweight than real rattan. You will find it very easy to move it around if you fancy rearranging your garden or the format of your furniture. (Did you know all of our rattan garden furniture sets are completely modular? This means you can customise the layout so your specific preference.)

5. cheaper to buy

Of course, it’s a no-brainer that an artificial version of a material can be cheaper. This is the same across any industry from wood to fur. However, this can really make a difference to families who might not have the budget for real rattan but would love to achieve that beautiful look in their own garden.

Natural rattan does not withstand the outdoor elements particularly well and is vulnerable to the effects of moisture, hence why in our opinion its better suited to the conservatory than the patio. Synthetic on the other-hand, is right at home inside and out.

At Lazy Susan we are all about the comfort. And the level of comfort a garden set provides is just as important as how it looks. A beautiful but uncomfortable outdoor area is of no use to anybody. Both natural and synthetic rattan garden sets are typically paired with sofa style cushions and pillows, so when it comes to comfort, they’re hard to beat!

Synthetic rattan furniture still maintains the look and feel of natural rattan combined with that long lasting durability that has made it such a popular material in the construction of outdoor furniture. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that synthetic rattan garden sets are more durable than natural rattan.

Wrapped around a strong aluminium frame, manufacturers are using plastics and resin to create the wicker-like weave. And just like the real thing, the plastic is extremely compliant and easy to shape. It is available in a wide range of colours, plus it still maintains all that strength we associate with natural rattan.