How to Check the Quality of Rattan Furniture

When looking for rattan furniture, there is more than one store at the same area. They all have several brands so you can compare the different qualities of rattan. There are several characteristics to look for.

How to check the quality of rattan furniture?

  1. Thickness
    The thickness of rattan determines the price as well as quality. The larger the diameter of the stem, the sturdier the piece of furniture. A good sized stem is 1½ inches in diameter. To check the thickness of rattan furniture simply grab a corner in a vice grip.
  2. Smoothness
    The smoothness of the rattan stem determines the quality of the color and finish. Rattan should be smooth, with no hair-like strands hanging out. Good quality rattan is sanded smooth. To check the smoothness of rattan furniture simply rub your hand across the rattan surface to check for smoothness.
Wicker chair rattan

Wicker chair rattan

What are good indicators to check the quality of rattan furniture? The color evenness or smooth color spectrum of the rattan stem once it is finished, and the uniformity in the shape of the rattan stem. Rattan stems are graded in A, B, or C. Grading is determined by uniformity of shape and color. The A grade surface is extremely smooth and uniform in color. The B grade surface is a little rougher surface than the A grade and shows a larger shape and color variation when stained. The C grade is uneven in color and shape. The C grade stem also has dents, splits, a rough surface, and hair-like pieces sticking out of the stem. No matter what is done, a C grade cannot be made into an A grade stem. Grade has to do with only color evenness and uniformity of shape, not strength. All stem grades the same diameter are the same strength.

If the stem grade is not indicated on the label, you can look at the stain and finish to determine quality. High-quality rattan has a even stain without blotchy colored areas. If the growth joints are a great deal darker than the other parts of the stem, it is a lower quality rattan. The lowest grades of rattan have dents, splits, and hair-like pieces on the surface. If the rattan has a split, the stress created by sitting on the chair or other piece of furniture will make the split move back and forth and become larger.

Rattan is put together with glue, nails, screws, staples, and wrap. Glue holds the rattan quite secure. Nails and staples may not hold and work loose. The higher quality rattan is put together with screws counter sunk into the rattan and covered with wood plugs. In keeping with the rattan look to make sure the quality of the rattan furniture is excellent, some manufacturers wrap the joints with peel wrap. The wrap ends are usually fastened down with glue or nails. Check the wrapping to see if it is secure, uniform in shape, and smooth, without hair-like pieces raveling off the edge. Also, check the stain and finish to see if it is chipping off. A good quality stain on the wrap is smooth and even in color throughout.

Some pieces of rattan furniture rest on a base, such as a swivel base. For quality, the rattan should be screwed into the base rather than nailed or stapled, and the base should be made of solid wood. If a swivel is used at the base, it should move freely and not squeak.


Quality Checklist
After each question, answer with a yes* or no.

  1. Is the thickness of the rattan stem around 1½ inches?
  2. Is the rattan stem free of any hair-like pieces?
  3. Feel the rattan. Is it smooth to the touch?
  4. Is the color, stain, and finish even and without any blotchy areas?
  5. Is the stem uniform in thickness throughout?
  6. Are the joints held together with glue and screws, not nails and staples?
  7. Does the frame feel sturdy when pressure is put onto the rattan?
  8. If screws are used, are they concealed?
  9. If wrap is used, is it secure and even in color?
  10. If the rattan is anchored to a base, is it screwed into solid wood?
  11. If a swivel is used, does it move freely without any squeaks?
  12. Is there a warranty?

* If you answered all these questions with a yes, you can be assured of getting a high-quality piece of rattan furniture.


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