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Reference Terms and Product Materials Used in Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture and accent pieces come in many exciting shapes and styles. Rattan in pole and woven form is an ever-popular choice for indoor spaces. Bamboo pole frame furniture with wicker inlays is another choice that lends natural styling to a tropical retreat. In addition to the peeled inner core of rattan that makes up the fibers used in wicker patterns, grasses and reeds also make a showing on seating, baskets, lamps, shelving and storage cabinets. They go beyond the tropics, as well, with classic design choices for cottage, country and transitional settings. Palm leaves, Abaca, seagrass and banana bark are all among the natural choices available. Each has its unique characteristics, and all present minor challenges in cleaning. Understanding a little about each fiber can be helpful when shopping for wicker. Cleaning natural weaves can be a bit tricky. It is best to prevent dust buildup with regular brushing or with the use of a brush vacuum attachment. Smaller paintbrushes can get into the crevices to sweep away grit. After dry brushing, wipe occasionally with a damp cloth to restore moisture and prevent cracking. Always follow manufacturer instructions for best results.


The large family of banana palm plants includes Abaca, which is also called Manila hemp although it is unrelated. Like its durable vine neighbor, rattan, it is perhaps the toughest fiber existing today. With a light weight, buoyancy and elasticity, it outshines other natural and synthetic fibers in strength, especially in saltwater conditions. This plant has been in favor for centuries, and every part finds some use across a wide variety of industries. Stalks grow at a fast rate, giving abaca an earth-friendly nod from conservationists. Beyond furniture, Abaca pulp appears in paper products, cosmetics, apparel and ropes for marine use. Most imports are from the Philippines, where it is known locally as bacbac.


Often confused for Rattan, resembling the look of Rattan. Bamboo is a tropical grass having a tough outer shell with a hollow core. Being not as pliable nor having the durability of rattan, bamboo is difficult to craft into furniture because of splitting and being problematic to stain or paint.

Banana Bark

While referred to as trees, banana palms actually fall into the flowering plant category. Banana bark fibers are typically wider but are easy to weave into classic basket patterns. The fibrous strips, as the name suggests, come from the outer core of leaf stems. While coarse at first, fibers may undergo soaking to soften while removing the pith. Banana bark fiber is relatively interchangeable with Abaca and, often, there is little or no distinction between the two in furniture descriptions. Either choice is just as attractive for indoor wicker furniture components. Look for light, medium and dark color variations as classic physical characteristics.


Used primarily in backs and seats of furniture, it can be woven into a variety of consumer products. Harvested from the narrow strips of rattan peel from the outer bark of Rattan for cane seats.

Commercial Grade Furniture (Contract Furniture)

Meets stringent code standards for furniture used in restaurants, hotels, resorts and any public areas operated by business or government. Generally, furniture is made heavier to hold up to heavy use.

Cushion Cording

Is known by several other names including box cording, piping and welting, although the latter is technically a bit different by some definitions. Adding personalized touch with cording can be an added benefit.

Loomed Wicker

Is a process to make many consumer products including furniture. Using a mechanically operated weaving loom dating back to the early twentieth century, furniture can be produced at a quicker rate than traditionally hand woven wicker furniture.

Palm Leaves

Unlike banana bark and Abaca fibers, which come from stems and stalks, palm leaf strips come from the undersides of leaves. Craftsmen turn palm leaf fibers into thatch for roofs, but it is such a tough and workable product, it has many ornamental uses. Stripped palm leaf fibers are most popular in their natural form, but dyed fibers also make colorful accents. This straw-like fiber resists shrinking in humid areas.

Porch Wicker

Depending on whether the porch is a well-covered porch or one that is exposed to the outdoor elements determines the furniture most applicable to your needs. Some natural wicker can be used for well covered porch if it is manufactured with a protected sealant. Generally, there are stipulations that limit the outdoor exposure. Synthetic wicker is an applicable material, generally for complete outdoor exposure.


Graded after being harvested for appearance is part of the palm family. Out of 600 different kinds, 4 are used to make furnishings. Armored vines with thorns and extensions that attach to trees. Harvested primarily from Indonesia, grows very quickly making it a sustainable resource for tropical furniture.

Rattan Peel

Primarily used on furniture frames and harvested from the bark of Rattan by cutting narrow strips.

Raffia Palms

Comprising about 20 species, harvested from leafstalks are typically the choice for basketry, pillows, rugs, furniture accents and a host of other items.


Harvested from wetlands, is a tall slender grass.

Resin Wicker

Is a synthetic material used for making many outdoor home and garden items and outdoor furniture. It is made from polyethylene fibers which can resemble natural wicker used for indoors. The benefits of using resin wicker, affords a manufacturer to create aesthetically beautiful furniture in many different colors to offer the consumer a product that is durable enough for the outdoor elements.


Most closely resembles the earliest types of wicker creations. Rushes pulled from waterways made up baskets and other goods of all sizes many centuries ago. Wicker chairs might incorporate seagrass wicker as a wider flat weave or as rope to create either smooth or nubby texturing. While in its fresh stages, seagrass is green but turns lighter brown with aging. As a popular choice for area rugs and mats, it is a naturally tough component for usable baskets and as accent panels seating and cabinetry.

What is Wicker?

It is a umbrella term used for referencing (a classification) many consumer products including baskets, home furnishing, indoor and outdoor furniture. Wicker is not a material, rather the reference that a product is woven from natural or synthetic pliable materials.


Having an ability to retain its moisture for a considerable time after being harvested, has malleable shoots that are generally woven into loose designs like baskets.