Wicker furniture is often thought of as fragile. However, today outdoor wicker furniture can be very sturdy and last through generations of use. Wicker furniture that is meant for outdoor use is crafted of man-made materials and, typically supported by an aluminum frame. As with iron, wood, and aluminum, man-made wicker may be designed to be used either with a cushion, or without. If the outdoor furniture has cushions, they will consist of an inner core of a weather resistant material covered with an outdoor fabric.
Quality wicker manufacturers design their product to stand up to any manner of weather. However, it is important to remember that the elements can be very harsh on anything left exposed all of the time. Care and maintenance on the homeowner’s part will factor into how long the product will last and how long it will look new. It is not unusual to have a quality outdoor wicker for 15- 20 or more years providing that reasonable care is performed. A good quality cushion with a highly rated outdoor fabric can easily last a decade or more.
The term wicker actually refers to the technique of making furniture using a weaving style, not the material from which it is made. The man-made wicker material can be a product that is made on a loom or a vinyl that has been extruded into long strands which are woven in the same technique as natural wicker.
Loomed wicker has a metal strand running in a weaving direction which helps give stability and strength. When woven in this manner, the wicker material is dipped into a moisture proof latex coating before wrapping onto a metal frame. Once the construction of a piece is competed, it is painted with a baked-on polyester paint to provide protection.
Outdoor wicker furniture made from vinyl has the finish color added to the vinyl processing. A good quality virgin vinyl will add a substantial amount of weight to the frame and this is one way to test for overall quality.
The best quality vinyl wicker furniture also has a UV stabilizer added that will protect the vinyl from drying and unravelling from the sun’s harmful rays. There is no way to discern if man-made vinyl-woven wicker has UV stabilizers added. As this is a very important part of insuring that your furniture will hold up to the damaging rays of the sun, it is important to ask this question. A hint here, however, is that if the manufacturer is willing to go the expense of adding a UV stabilizer to their product, they have made a commitment to buying quality materials (aluminum, paint, cushions, and fabric, to name a few) all the way through the manufacturing process. All of these good things will, of course, be reflected in the price.
What To Look For
- Realistic wicker appearance
- Furniture weight
- Comfortable scale and “sit”
- Smooth, even finishes on painted product
- No visible hardware
- Protective caps at the bottom of legs
- Cushions with consistent and even stitching and pattern matching on fabric
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