Guide to Plastic Rattan Garden Furniture

29 April 2022

Most of us can’t wait for the summer months to start, and we look forward to taking our drinks and food out into the beer garden or onto the restaurant patio with glee. 

Then we get outside and we battle with uncomfortable, rusty metal furniture, with misshapen legs that stick in the cracks between the patio slabs, and we wonder why we bothered at all. 

The quality of furniture in your outside seating spaces is paramount. One of the most popular solutions today is tables and chairs made out of plastic rattan. 

What Is Rattan?

Rattan furniture is sometimes called wicker furniture. Here’s what you need to know:

Wicker is the technique of overlapping natural materials to weave a piece of furniture. It is one of the oldest furniture construction techniques known to history. 

Rattan is a material, a wood closely related to the palm tree, that is often used for products with the wicker pattern. 

However, other materials might be used for wicker designs, including willow and rush. 

Rattan-effect is a plastic construction that mimics the look of rattan wicker furniture. It is also called synthetic rattan or plastic rattan. 

You can fairly easily tell the difference between wood rattan and plastic rattan if you get close enough or touch it, but plastic rattan is still extremely attractive as long as it is manufactured well. 

Most “rattan” furniture in the UK is actually rattan-effect. However, just because plastic rattan does not use the original material, does not mean it is an inferior product. In fact, plastic rattan has some real advantages. 

Benefits of Plastic Rattan Garden Furniture

Real rattan is a type of wood. This means that it is susceptible to rot. If you have seen furniture owners cover their garden tables and chairs when they are not in use, or bring them inside during the cold months, this is the reason why. The elements will cause real rattan to wear down and decay, and exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays cause colours to fade. 

This is not an issue with rattan effect furniture. Unlike real rattan, synthetic rattan is weatherproof, resistant to UV-rays, and can be left outside all year round. This is a huge advantage if you own a restaurant or hotel with lots of outside seating. It can be hard to find the time to cover outside furniture or the space to store it inside during the winter. 

Some real rattan is treated to make it more resistant to changes in season, though this is a more expensive option. What’s great about synthetic rattan is that it is resilient and cost-effective.

If you have permanent coverings or conservatory areas in your restaurant, you are in a better position to enjoy rattan furniture made of real rattan wood. Otherwise, it is probably better to choose alternative wicker options like the plastic Harper Armchair and the Canterbury Polypropylene Table.

It is still a good idea to cover plastic wicker furniture in heavy weather, as this reduces the risk of fading. Overall, they still need much less care and attention, allowing you to get on with the important work of creating an amazing experience for your customers. 

Most Tabilo rattan-effect furniture is CATAS tested for outdoor use.

Plastic Rattan Furniture Buying Guide

Canturbury Rattan Effect Range
Canturbury Rattan Effect Range

Now that you know the benefits of rattan-effect furniture sets, you might be thinking about buying products in this beautiful style for yourself. We would like to tell you what to look out for when buying to ensure you get a high-quality product. 

Parts of rattan furniture

Pay attention to these parts when buying rattan effect chairs or sofa sets:

  • Wicker strands/wires come in different shapes and weights. The heavier the weight, the better it should withstand heavy use. 
  • The treatment of the wicker will determine how weather resistant the table is, as well as the level of UV-protection it has. A light resistant pigment means no colour fades from the sun.
  • The frame: what is it made of? An aluminium frame will be more sturdy but also more expensive. 

When it comes to buying rattan-effect tables, you also want to consider: 

  • The feet on a rattan table should be adjustable so that no matter where you place them, including uneven patio slabs, customers do not have to suffer a wobbly table. 
  • The surface/tabletop of a rattan-effect table could be made with a variety of materials. Some are glass topped, and some surfaces are made from acrylic or other plastics. 
Canterbury Table Diagram 2
Canterbury Table Diagram 2

Buy this table here

Materials Used In Rattan-Effect Furniture

There are four main types of plastic used in plastic rattan furniture sets:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, or just “vinyl”) 
  • PU (Polyurethane)
  • PP (Polypropylene)
  • PE (Polyethylene, or just “poly”)

Typically, PE or PP are considered to be the highest quality, most durable option. However, quality furniture can be made out of any of these materials. PVC is associated with a shiny finish that can look cheap, and PP achieves an effect much closer to real rattan, but it also depends on how the plastic is treated. 

Plastic Rattan Furniture Care and Maintenance

Now that you know what to buy, how can you keep your new rattan-effect furniture both functional and beautiful for as long as possible?  


Due to the distinctive construction method, all wicker furniture poses a cleaning challenge. This is true whether made of real wood or plastic. 

These weaves can be tricky to deep clean. This image comes from the Canterbury Polypropylene Chair

The good news is that, unlike rattan wood, liquids will not penetrate plastic rattan, massively reducing the chance of stains and repelling dirt. It also leaves you free to use low-effort cleaning methods like spraying the furniture with a hose. Easy. 

If further cleaning is necessary, a solution of liquid detergent and warm water should be sufficient to remove dirt, and a soft cloth or toothbrush will be sufficient tools to get the job done. 


During heavy weather, consider covering your rattan-effect tables and chairs. Yes, rattan-effect is more weatherproof than real rattan wood, but covering them will extend the life of your furniture.

Create Brilliant Outdoor Seating Areas With Tabilo Rattan-Effect Furniture 

Rattan effect furniture is in high demand across the hospitality industry, as with good reason. Somehow, the eye-catching wicker pattern fills our minds with memories of sun and relaxation. To capitalise on the good vibes that rattan seems to hold within its weaves, you are probably interested in adding new rattan-effect tables and chairs to your restaurant, beer garden or cafe. 

Tabilo is here to help. We never forget the business that exists behind every enquiry and product order, nor the people that make up that business. That’s how we have such highly regarded and efficient customer service. No matter whether you are looking for a few rattan-effect items to add some variety to our outside seating area, or need us to fulfil a large order to transform your entire garden dining experience, we are here to help. 

See our full range of outdoor furniture right here, or contact Tabilo today and let us help you with all your rattan-effect furniture needs.  

Buy out popular wicker Newbury Armchairs pair today.

Summary FAQ 

What is the difference between rattan and wicker?

Rattan wood and plastic rattan are materials. Wicker is the weaving pattern that turns strands of material like rattan into chairs and other products

What is better, real rattan or synthetic rattan?

Unlike real rattan, synthetic rattan is weatherproof and can be left outside all year round. For this reason, for most hospitality businesses, we recommend synthetic rattan. 

How do I best clean plastic rattan furniture?

Start by hosing down the furniture at a low pressure. Then, if needed, use a solution of liquid detergent and warm water with a cloth or toothbrush. 

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