Outdoor furniture is an essential part of outdoor living. It creates a comfortable and functional place in our outdoor spaces where we can sit, eat, relax and entertain. So, it comes as no surprise everyone with a garden or balcony is looking for a suitable piece of outdoor furniture. Rattan furniture is a very popular option, but why is it so expensive?
The reason why it’s so expensive is down to the fact that the manufacturing and construction process is really quite complex. The materials are also reasonably expensive as they need to be durable and long lasting. Read on to see why these processes are complex and what to look out for when buying rattan furniture.
In many ways, outdoor furniture can be equally expensive as indoor furniture and in some cases more expensive. They need to be able to withstand harsh natural elements throughout the year including, extreme cold and hot weather. This can all have a toll even the toughest of materials.
What makes rattan furniture expensive?
The design, materials and construction make for a complex manufacturing process which makes this type of furniture rather expensive compared to other materials such as wood or moulded plastic furniture. Many rattan pieces of furniture are woven by hand or by complex machinery which is where the real expense comes into play. More complex designs and larger pieces further push up prices.
How manufacturers keep costs down
Lower cost rattan furniture all tend to have a couple of things in common. The design and the quality of the materials. Cheaper rattan furniture will be designed with lots of simple, square edges and little or no curves. It will also be designed in a way that it can be delivered in smaller packaging, very similar to flat pack furniture from Ikea. By keeping the delivery and storage costs down the price can be kept to a minimum. They are normally delivered in pieces and bolted together by the customer.
So, cheap rattan furniture is quite easy to spot. It’s generally smaller, squarer and looks like it can be broken down into much smaller sections.
Luxury and high quality rattan like furniture from Skyline Design have much more complex and elegant design features, use higher quality materials and require less assembly. You can see a clear difference between this and something you might find at your local DIY megastore.
Not all rattan furniture is ‘expensive’ but you can easily see the difference in quality between a cheaply manufactured piece and a luxury piece. Whilst the initial overall aesthetic of a cheap rattan piece might not look very different, when you get up close, you can see and feel a difference in the material quality. Let me explain in a little more detail.
What is rattan furniture made from?
Outdoor rattan furniture can be available in a number of different styles but they all have a similar construction. A metal frame wrapped in a complex woven pattern using a synthetic material, a type of plastic.
A good quality piece of rattan should have an aluminum frame that has been powder coated. Secondly the quality of the plastic can play a big difference in comfort and durability of the furniture. Synthetic rattan is most commonly made from one of the following, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), PU (Polyurethane), PP (Polypropylene) or PE (Polyethylene). Some are better than others for outdoor applications so it’s good to know what type is used on the rattan furniture you are thinking of buying. I will talk about the differences below.
Why is aluminium a far superior metal for outdoor furniture?
Aluminium does not rust! Unlike steel, aluminium cannot rust, which is why it is used for many outdoor construction applications. Whilst it can still corrode it doesn’t decompose like a piece of steel. Aluminium is also very lightweight and easy to manufacture. When combined with a powder coating process it becomes a very solid and durable material for outdoor applications.
Many rattan pieces are made with powder coated steel which is ok, as long as the powder coating does not come off, which can often happen if the pieces is damaged in any way. Once the rust starts it can be difficult to keep on top of.
Which ‘Poly’ synthetic is best for outdoor rattan furniture?
As mentioned above, there a four key types of ‘poly’ plastic in which rattan furniture is constructed from. Whilst they all have their place in our world, some are better for outdoor furniture.
PP (Polypropylene) or PE (Polyethylene) is generally considered the best type of plastic for the manufacturing of rattan furniture. This is because it is stronger and more durable than the others. It can also be manufactured in a way the resembles the texture and qualities of real (natural) rattan.
PVC tends to have a much shinier, glossy finish which makes it look less like the real thing and in general, cheaper. Think of a PVC pipe in your bathroom or your uPVC windows on your house.
Conclusion – Why is rattan furniture expensive?
Rattan furniture is expensive due to these three main factors:
- Strong, durable and waterproof materials required
- Complex and time consuming manufacturing processes
- Shipping and storage costs
Rattan furniture is generally an expensive purchase, but when you buy quality you’re investing for the future. You’re buying an asset. Outdoor furniture does have a limited lifetime but when you buy luxury/quality items, you’re paying for much better materials, better craftsmanship and better design. Sure, you could spend £400 on a basic rattan seating set but you’ll likely start to see it deteriorate in the first couple of years. This creates two problems. One, you’ll need to replace it and two, you’ll need to recycle it, which isn’t a very eco-friendly option considering the amount of plastic involved.
With all this information in mind, take your time to find the right piece of furniture. Check what materials have been used by checking the listing details and try avoid the cheapest brands. Once you’ve selected your perfect piece of set, think carefully about how you will take care of it.
Care and maintenance – Looking after your expensive rattan furniture
As rattan furniture is an expensive investment you’ll likely want to take good care of it. Although it is weather resistant and designed to last for many years outdoors, a little TLC can make a huge difference. You won’t need to go to great lengths to clean your furniture but these tips should help you get them looking like new, year after year:
- Use a vacuum with brush attachment to clean off dust and dirt
- Use a garden hose and a scrubbing brush to remove any stubborn pieces
- Use warm soapy water to clean over all areas
- A toothbrush can be ideal for hard to reach areas
- If you notice any rust or corrosion forming, clean the areas and re-apply some metal paint.
You can also invest in a cover for your furniture to keep it away from the rain and snow during the winter.
Thanks for reading. Take a look at some of my related posts here: