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Rattan vs Cane: Which Material is Better for Outdoor Furniture?

Castlery   |   Aug 28, 2022

When creating the perfect outdoor space, choosing the right materials for your outdoor furniture is crucial to ensure they can last all year round.

And when it comes down to materials, two options often come to mind: rattan and cane.

Many assume that rattan and cane are the same material, given that they come from the same plant. At a glance, they both appear similar in terms of design styles, finish, and tones. But, contrary to popular belief, they are slightly different materials and used in different ways.

In this article, we explore the key differences between rattan and cane, their benefits, and help you make an informed decision on the ideal material for your outdoor furniture.

What is rattan?

Rattan is a natural material derived from the rattan palm, a type of climbing plant primarily found in tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Its popularity in outdoor furniture stems from its exceptional durability and timeless beauty.

A rattan armchair with a white seat cushion and matching stool. The Mico Rattan Armchair and Stool that gives off a tropical vibe.

Rattan also boasts a rich texture, unique natural grain, and a scent that gives a tropical feeling. It's natural appearance and light woody tones complement various design styles, adding an eminent of nature to the space.

Benefits of rattan


Rattan is known for its ability to withstand the elements and still retain its beauty even after prolonged use. Its natural fibres are strong and moisture-resistant, making it a reliable choice for outdoor furniture construction.

A close-up shot of a rattan armchair. Rattan’s natural fibres are strong and durable.


Rattan's natural flexibility allows for intricate weaving and designs. This flexibility makes it a preferred choice for creating woven patterns in furniture, such as chairs, sofas, and tables. The pliability of rattan can add an elegant and organic touch to your living spaces.


Despite its strength, rattan is relatively lightweight. This characteristic makes it easy to move and rearrange rattan furniture in your outdoor space.


Rattan furniture is relatively low maintenance and doesn’t require special care. Regular cleaning to remove dust, keeping it away from direct sunlight, and ensuring the rattan furniture is dry can help preserve its appearance and extend its lifespan.


As the rattan palm is a fast-growing plant that regenerates quickly after harvesting, rattan is considered a sustainable resource. Hence, for the eco-conscious, rattan is a great option to consider.

What is cane?

Cane refers to a specific part of a rattan palm, specifically the outer bark of the rattan vine. Rattan palms are known for their slender, flexible stems, which are used to create cane.

white cane sofa loveseat in living room with white furniture @chalovescafe keeps the lounge clean and classy with the plush Lucia Cane Sofa taking centre stage in a contemporary white-themed living room.

One of the key features of cane is its distinctive woven pattern. The intricate, open weave of cane adds an elegant and classic touch to furniture and decor. The natural colour of cane, which is typically light or honey-coloured, complements various design styles.

Benefits of cane


Cane is commonly used in furniture construction, particularly in creating chair seats and backs. It is often woven or laced onto a frame to form a comfortable and supportive seating surface. Cane can also be found in decorative elements, such as cabinet panels, headboards, and room dividers.


Cane seats and backs are known for their comfort. As they are slightly flexible, the cane weave offers support for chairs and other types of seating. Cane seats are often favored for their ergonomic properties when compared to other 'wooden' seating.


Cane is a strong and resilient material. When properly maintained, it can withstand the weight and regular use associated with seating. However, it's important to note that cane can be susceptible to damage from moisture and excess weight, so it's crucial to care for it appropriately.


Like rattan, cane is relatively low maintenance. But, aside from the occasional dusting and wiping, applying a thin coat of oil or varnish can prevent the cane from drying out or cracking.


As cane comes from the same plant as rattan, cane is also considered an eco-friendly material. Sustainable harvesting practices ensure the rattan plant's continued growth, making it a responsible choice for environmentally conscious consumers.

Rattan vs cane vs wicker

Wicker is often added to the mix and associated with rattan and cane. In actual fact, wicker refers to the weaving technique used to create furniture rather than a specific material.

Two wicker 3-seater sofas and lounge chairs surround a fireplace outdoors. @misaliddiard creates a calming sanctuary in her backyard with the Malta Outdoor Sofas and Lounge Chairs.

Wicker involves weaving slender, pliable materials together to create furniture. While the term "wicker" is often associated with natural materials like rattan, it can also crafted from a variety of materials like bamboo, willow, reed, and even synthetic fibres like resin and vinyl.

Common wicker materials

Rattan wicker

Rattan (or cane) is one of the most common materials used for wicker furniture due to its durability and flexibility. Rattan and cane wicker is crafted from the stems of the rattan palm plant, which are split into thin strips and then woven together.

Bamboo wicker

Bamboo is another natural material used for wicker furniture. Bamboo wicker is created by splitting bamboo stalks into strips and weaving them together. It offers a distinct appearance and is often used for lightweight, casual furniture.

Synthetic wicker

Synthetic wicker is made from materials such as polyethylene or resin. It is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wicker but offers enhanced durability and resistance to the elements. Synthetic wicker is a popular choice for outdoor furniture due to its weather-resistant and long-lasting properties.

The differences between cane and rattan

While both materials come from the same plant, they are often used in different ways and for different purposes.

Generally, rattan is used in the construction of entire pieces of furniture, such as the Mico Rattan Armchair or Mico Rattan Coffee Table.

beige grey sectional sofa with rattan armchair and coffee table with storage Elevate your living room and bring in the vibes of a boho-chic resort with rattan curves from the Mico Rattan Coffee Table and Mico Rattan Armchair. Picture credit: @deysislife

Being a natural material, rattan can be used in various room styles, including boho, retro, or coastal. Be mindful that rattan is porous, so it can get damaged if exposed to moisture or kept in humid conditions.

On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, cane is often used as frameworks or accents with wood-, rattan-, or metal furniture. The use of mixed materials elevates the sophistication of the furniture and you can find such combinations in chairs, sofas, or storage pieces. Cane weaves add a natural accent to any furniture piece, creating a relaxed and inviting vibe.

Can you use rattan or cane furniture outdoors?

Both rattan and cane furniture are excellent materials for outdoor use - which is why you can find several outdoor furniture constructed with these two materials. But, to ensure they withstand the test of time, it's always a good idea to use furniture covers to protect the rattan or cane furniture from the elements.

Try to avoid extensive exposure to moisture for rattan as this can cause some warping, discolouration, and degradation over time. Cane is slightly more resilient but also needs to be treated carefully if used outside. Of course, it is also possible to get certain types of polyrattan that are specifically designed for outside use.

dining room with a marble dining table, patterned jute area rug and black cane boucle chairs The Edith Cane Chairs make the dining room (styled with the Ventura Jute Area Rug and Kesley Marble Dining Table) feel like a café with its cane backrest and bouclé seat encased in a black frame.

Which is better: Rattan vs cane

Now that you have a better understanding of both materials, which is better for outdoor use?

Ultimately, the choice between rattan and cane depends on your specific needs and preferences. Rattan offers exceptional durability, versatility, and natural beauty, while cane provides timeless elegance and comfort. For the best of both worlds, get furniture pieces that combine rattan frames and cane weaves.

Whether you opt for rattan or cane, both materials can enhance the charm and comfort of your outdoor space. With the right care and consideration, your outdoor furniture can become a lasting addition to your home, providing a welcoming retreat for years to come. So, take your time, weigh your options, and create an outdoor oasis that reflects your unique style and needs.


Is wicker stronger than rattan and cane?

Comparing wicker to rattan or cane is heavily material dependent. As one is a type of weave used in furniture construction, and the other is a natural material, the basis for comparison here is the type of wicker material. For example, synthetic wicker - made from materials like polyethylene or resin - offers enhanced durability and resistance to the elements. This makes synthetic wicker stronger when compared to rattan or cane.

Can I use rattan or cane furniture indoors?

Yes, rattan and cane furniture are suitable for indoor use, where they are less exposed to moisture and UV rays. They can add a warm and organic touch to your interior decor.

Can I mix natural and synthetic materials in my outdoor furniture?

Yes, some outdoor furniture combines natural frames (such as rattan or cane) with synthetic wicker, offering a blend of aesthetics and durability.

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