Rattan Outdoor Sofa Set

Should I choose metal or rattan garden furniture?

Choosing the best garden furniture can be tricky, so here are the pros and cons of rattan garden furniture and metal garden furniture to help you decide.
Protecting Your Garden Furniture: Why It Matters Reading Should I choose metal or rattan garden furniture? 10 minutes

No matter what kind of style you’re attempting to achieve in your outdoor space, choosing the right garden furniture material is crucial. Furniture material is a huge part of its overall aesthetic appeal, so this decision can make or break your luxury garden design plans. 

Not only is furniture material important for stylistic reasons, but it also has a huge impact on the durability, weather resistance, comfort and maintenance of your luxury garden furniture. With so many factors to consider, it’s no wonder that choosing the right garden furniture is more complex that it first seems.

To help you with your decision-making process, we’ll discuss the main advantages and disadvantages of two extremely popular garden furniture materials: rattan and metal. 

What is rattan garden furniture?

Natural rattan garden furniture is constructed from woven palm stems from plants growing in tropical climates. This organic material provides a casual, rustic appearance to your furniture, but natural rattan tends to be more expensive and not wholly suitable for the UK’s damp climate. Many of the garden furniture pieces you find in the UK are actually made from synthetic rattan, such as PE rattan. Synthetic rattan garden furniture has the same woven structure and appearance as natural rattan garden furniture (although it comes in more colours, as shown by our brown rattan furniture, grey rattan furniture and black rattan furniture), helping you achieve the same stylistic effect with added weatherproofing benefits.

Rattan garden furniture: Pros and cons

Speaking of benefits, let’s take a look at the main advantages and disadvantages of buying rattan outdoor furniture for your garden:

Pros

1. Classic, timeless style

With its simple, elegant and understated appearance, it’s no wonder that rattan furniture is the go-to when it comes to decorating your garden. Rattan garden furniture is particularly suitable for those who want a rustic and organic style for their furniture, creating a harmonious link between the natural elements of your outdoor space and the modern creature comforts of your indoor living spaces.

In addition, rattan furniture fits perfectly with a wide range of decorating styles and applications. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor dining set for entertaining guests or a comfortable garden sofa set or daybed for relaxing in the sun, rattan is an incredibly versatile material that never looks out of place. 

2. Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre 

If you ever get bored with your current garden layout, there’s no need to spend money on replacing your rattan garden furniture. This is because rattan is a very lightweight material, so you can easily rearrange your outdoor furniture at any time to freshen things up. This is also ideal for those who love to entertain guests, as you can quickly move around your rattan furniture to accommodate different seating arrangements, and it’s then super simple to move everything back into place once everyone leaves. 

3. Flexible and comfortable

One of the reasons why rattan is such a popular furniture material is that it’s an extremely strong yet flexible material. The flexibility of rattan means that it adjusts to your body when you sit and provides a bit of bounce, which leads to a much more comfortable and pleasant sitting experience compared to hard, firm materials with no give in them. So, if you love to sit in your garden for hours on end, rattan is the obvious choice.

To improve the comfort of your rattan furniture, you can also add outdoor scatter cushions on top. Many pieces of rattan outdoor furniture come with cushions, but you can also customise these seating cushions to match your overall garden design or colour scheme. 

4. Easy to clean and maintain

Want a low-maintenance garden? Luckily, rattan garden furniture is very easy to clean and maintain – all you need to do is wipe it down with some mild soap and water every so often, or whenever you notice a bit of dirt or dust. If you’re expecting harsh weather conditions like heavy rain, you should add rattan furniture covers or move your furniture into a sheltered spot to keep it looking its best. Since rattan furniture is lightweight and easy to move, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

5. Durable

While we wouldn’t recommend leaving your rattan furniture unprotected during a heavy downpour, this furniture material is still very durable and long-lasting overall. Rattan doesn’t become brittle in cold weather or very hot during sunny weather, and it’s also very UV-resistant. This means it’s less likely to become discoloured after prolonged exposure to sunlight, so it’ll look as good as new for a very long time.

Cons

1. Weaving can loosen over time

One potential issue is that rattan weaving can loosen over time and with heavy use, affecting the appearance of your outdoor furniture. However, this is a more common problem with natural rattan garden furniture, so using synthetic rattan is a good way to avoid this (and also benefit from increased durability and weather resistance).

2. May not be suitable for harsh weather conditions

While rattan garden furniture can withstand light rain and damp, windy conditions, it will deteriorate more rapidly if you leave it out in heavier rain and strong winds. To mitigate this, we would recommend using garden furniture covers or storing your furniture in a sheltered area when you anticipate harsher weather conditions. Rattan furniture is lightweight and easy to store, so moving your furniture around shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

3. Cost

Rattan furniture, and particularly natural rattan garden furniture, can sometimes be a bit pricier. However, you get what you pay for, so investing in high-quality garden furniture can help you ensure that your furniture remains in good condition for a very long time, removing the need to replace it too often. Plus, if you make sure you keep up with furniture maintenance and protect your garden furniture during harsh weather, you can protect your investment and potentially even save money over time due to the lack of furniture replacements.

What is metal garden furniture?

Metal garden furniture is another highly popular garden furniture material. This outdoor furniture is typically made from either aluminium, steel or wrought iron, but aluminium is considered the most popular and highest-quality choice out of these three. This is because aluminium garden furniture is more lightweight, durable and resistant to corrosion than steel or iron. 

Metal garden furniture: Pros and cons

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of metal garden furniture, and aluminium garden furniture in particular? Here are the main pros and cons to be aware of when choosing rattan or metal garden furniture:

Pros

1. Sleek, modern style

While metal garden furniture can suit a wide variety of décor styles, it’s particularly suitable for modern designs. The sleek, minimalistic style of metal furniture is perfect if you want to create a very clean and modern look for your outdoor space, especially if you choose more chromatic pieces.

2. Sturdy and durable

Metal garden furniture is especially sturdy, making it ideal for heavy use or placement in less sheltered areas. If you want outdoor furniture that will stand the test of time, metal garden furniture may be the right choice for you.

3. Low maintenance

Just like rattan, metal is another low-maintenance option for garden furniture. Metal frames are easy to wipe clean with a bit of soap and water. Plus, you can buy protective covers for your furniture to prevent issues like corrosion during harsh weather.

Cons

1. Can get hot in direct sunlight

However, unlike rattan, metal garden furniture can become very hot in direct sunlight, which could be problematic if you like to sit in your garden on sunny summer days. You can buy covers and cushions to minimise this issue, but you’ll still need to be careful to avoid accidentally brushing against the hot metal frames with your bare skin.

One possible solution is to opt for powder-coated aluminium garden furniture. This powder coating prevents the surface of the metal from becoming too hot, and it will also protect against rusting, scratches and corrosion.

2. Can be cumbersome

Another potential drawback is that metal furniture can be heavier and harder to move than rattan garden furniture. If you like to move your garden furniture around or store it elsewhere during inclement weather, this could end up being a problem for you.

On the other hand, aluminium is more lightweight than other metals without sacrificing durability, so you can easily move it around to suit your needs. Powder-coated aluminium garden furniture is even more durable and UV-resistant, so you can get the benefits of lightweight garden furniture without the drawbacks (such as structural weakness or being easily blown away by strong winds).

3. Can become dented with heavy or improper use

Despite this durability, metal garden furniture can still become scratched and dented with heavy use. You’ll either need to take care with this furniture or opt for a more flexible material like rattan, which can absorb physical shocks more easily.

Metal vs rattan

Overall, there are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to consider for both metal and rattan garden furniture. Both materials boast excellent durability, weather resistance and longevity, so your decision will mostly come down to your budget and style preferences. While metal garden furniture is great for a sleek, modern look, rattan garden furniture is a timeless, universal style that particularly appeals to those looking for a natural, organic and rustic design for their outdoor space.

No matter which option you choose, you need to consider the proper maintenance and care for your new furniture to ensure it lasts for many years to come. This will involve cleaning your garden furniture regularly and moving it to a sheltered location if you expect extreme weather. You can also buy furniture covers and cushions to protect the structure of your furniture – and make it much more comfortable!

If you’re looking for high-quality, luxury rattan garden furniture, Alexander Francis has exactly what you need, including sofa sets, sun loungers, daybeds, dining sets and more. Our natural-look synthetic rattan garden furniture boasts powder-coated aluminium frames for durability and a wide range of cushion covers to suit any garden style. Not sure what you want? Contact our customer support team today – we’re always happy to help.