Durable and lightweight, wicker patio furniture can be an attractive addition to your outside space. But what happens if it gets wet?
Organic rattan wicker patio furniture can definitely get wet and go rotten if left in the rain (even painted), and could not really even be classed as water resistant. However, synthetic plastic wicker made of PVC is completely waterproof and can be left in the yard even in the heaviest of showers.
In this article we’ll consider the relative waterproofing and water resistant qualities of different types of wicker, and consider if you should leave it outside in bad weather.
Is Outdoor Wicker Furniture Waterproof? (Or Water Resistant?)
The key here is knowing what material your wicker furniture is made from. The original wicker furniture was made from rattan, which is a type of vine that’s related to the palm tree.
The term “wicker” refers to that distinctive close weave, rather than the fabric itself. So, wicker furniture can be made from all sorts of material, and its construction is more often synthetic than plant-based.
If you have organic wicker furniture, this is best-off kept indoors, full stop, as both the sun and the rain will cause serious damage to the delicate fibers. Synthetic wicker furniture is far tougher and usually designed for outdoor use.
For example, it often has aluminum frames that are robust and don’t rust (and are also lightweight for moving around your yard).
Synthetic resin wicker is usually made from a waterproof material like PVC. There’s a difference between waterproof and water-resistant: a waterproof chair will withstand outdoor living, while a water-resistant one will survive a shower, but shouldn’t be constantly exposed to wet conditions.
Plastic wicker will withstand most weather, and is one of the toughest types of outdoor furniture on the market.
Does Wicker Furniture Get Ruined in The Rain?
There is nothing in a synthetic wicker and aluminum patio set that will be destroyed by rain; however, like everything else in your yard, if you want to prolong its life and keep it looking good, you’ll need to take good care of it.
Unlike organic patio furniture, synthetic wicker furniture is made from a durable plastic that can be left outside whatever the weather. As well as becoming damaged by too much moisture, wooden yard furniture can crack and warp if there’s too much heat or UV rays.
Low-maintenance wicker furniture isn’t affected by any of these, making it one of the easiest types of outdoor furniture to care for, especially if it has an aluminum frame.
The only thing we’d add is that anything that has a prolonged exposure to moisture can attract mold or mildew. Avoid this by regularly cleaning your furniture with soapy water, and dealing with spillages as soon as they occur. You can also use an antibacterial spray.
Top tip: the construction of the wicker weave makes some bits hard to reach. Use an old toothbrush to get into the gaps. Regularly checking the weave for any signs of greenish growth will help you keep on top of this.
How Do You Protect Wicker Furniture From Rain?
Synthetic wicker doesn’t need protecting from the rain, although to keep your furniture free from debris (and this includes everything from leaves to bird poop), you may like to use a garden furniture cover. You can pick up waterproof covers for garden furniture that you simply slip on and secure, and this will help to keep your set clean and tidy.
Also, there may be some parts of your patio furniture set that aren’t as tough as the PVC wicker bases. Wicker, even the plastic variety, isn’t known for being comfortable against your skin, so the chances are that you have outdoor cushions on your furniture.
These tend to be water-resistant rather than waterproof, and won’t last as long if they never get the chance to dry out. If you can, store any outdoor cushions in a safe, dry place overnight or during wet weather, and bring them indoors if it starts to rain.
You’ll occasionally see a debate on a site like Houzz about whether or not you can make natural rattan water-resistant. The short answer is, you can’t. If you really want to sit on your porch in a classic rattan chair, we suggest that you take it outside for a short while, then bring it in again when you’re done.
How Long Will Wicker Furniture Last Outside?
Like many things in life, you do get what you pay for when it comes to wicker furniture. The better the quality of the build and fabrics, the longer your furniture will last.
When you’re choosing your wicker furniture, look at how long the manufacturer’s guarantee is for. Decent wicker should last for over a decade, with many guarantees running for five years. Polyethylene is the material to go for, as this synthetic resin is super-durable, and won’t crack or fade in the sun.
Look out for a frame made from thick-gauge aluminum: nothing else will do the job as well, and other metals could rust or warp. Also, some quality brands use an additional netted structure to protect the wicker. Imagine the strain put on the weave if it’s being regularly sat on: a grid structure under the wicker provides extra support.
Can You Leave Wicker Furniture Outside In Winter?
So far, we’ve used words like “robust” and “hardy” to describe wicker patio furniture, and talked cheerily about how weatherproof it is. But (and you knew that was coming), like most outdoor equipment, it needs a bit more care during extreme weather.
If you live in a state that sees snowfall, storms, or gale-force winds in the winter, your furniture will last longer (and indeed, stay in your own yard) if you bring it indoors over the colder months. Even if you have year-round warm temperatures, it’s good to have a contingency plan in case of sudden stormy weather.
However durable and high-quality your wicker patio set is, it won’t survive a windstorm unscathed, and extreme temperature fluctuations can weaken the frames. Plus, as you’re unlikely to be enjoying a barbecue during a blizzard, you may as well bring your furniture in for the winter.
Prepare your wicker chairs, sofas and tables for their winter vacation. Remove, spot clean and dry any cushions, and store them in a safe, dry place.
Then, give your wicker a check and a clean, looking out for any spillages or bugs that may have taken up residence in the weave. After cleaning and drying the furniture, it’s time to find it a home. Dry spaces like garages, sheds and outbuildings are handy storage spots.
If you don’t have a big enough indoor space, invest in a really good set of covers, then move your furniture against a sheltered wall or fence. You may need to fasten it to something solid with rope or cords. Its durability is one of the many appealing features of synthetic wicker furniture.
So, if you know that you’ll have to leave your garden furniture outside all year when you’re buying your set, wicker is the best material to go for.
Of course, there is another alternative to storing or covering your yard furniture: simply use it around the house. There’s no reason why your wicker sofa can’t make a useful extra seat indoors, especially if you’re entertaining over the holidays.
Conclusion: Can Wicker Furniture Be Left Outside?
In the final analysis, organic rattan wicker furniture is not waterproof or weatherproof even if it’s been painted or treated – and should not be left out in the rain as it can get wet and go rotten.
On the other hand, plastic PVC wicker furniture is both water resistant and waterproof, and can be safely left outside in the rain as it will get wet then completely dry off without ever being damaged.
However, in the winter or bad weather we still recommend storing your furniture in a shed or garage when not in use – as you don’t want high winds and storms to damage your wicker patio furniture in other ways.
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >