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Not All Outdoor Wicker Stacks Up

Not All Outdoor Wicker Stacks Up

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Not all outdoor wicker stacks up when evaluating patio furniture.  Remember the old proverb: not all that glitters is gold. This statement is true for almost all patio furniture, especially outdoor wicker furniture.

Outdoor wicker furniture is one of the most desirable patio furniture purchases people are making these days. People are looking for affordable quality patio furniture that looks great, needs very little maintenance, is comfortable, and will last for years without worrying too much about it.

To ensure you end up with quality outdoor wicker, you must start by doing your homework before laying down your hard-earned dollars to purchase outdoor furniture.

First, you must identify retailers with experience and background selling outdoor wicker furniture. This is probably the most important step in acquiring your furniture because they will be the only ones with any clue as to the quality of the product. Purchasing wicker from your local discount store or department store that only carry wicker during the spring season is chancy at best. For obvious reasons, these stores do not specialize in wicker products and probably could not answer one technical question about its quality or manufacture.  Box and department stores buy resin wicker furniture from overseas in containers, often sight unseen.  The wicker furniture looks good at first but very quickly begins to degrade. The cushions flatten out and discolor, and the wicker fades and cracks.  But this usually takes about two years.

Outdoor resin wicker can be manufactured in many countries using different resins, dyes, and materials. You will only have the word of the salesman when you ask questions. You want the word of a professional wicker salesman who knows their products and stands behind them. Only consider a retailer that offers at least a 1-year limited warranty against manufacturer’s defects. Then at least, you know they are somewhat serious about their products. It is not recommended that you consider any outdoor wicker furniture that does not hold at least a 1-year warranty. Just about any furniture will last a year. If you buy quality wicker furniture, you’ll probably have it for at least 8-10 years, and probably a lot more if you buy the good stuff.

Here are a few things you can ask your wicker salesman to see if they really know about outdoor wicker or are simply a charismatic salesman.

Quality of Resin is Important

There is only one good type of resin wicker.  Its referred to by the technical term; high-density polyethylene (HDPE) wicker. You need to inquire about the quality of the resin used when you shop. You want to know that the salesman recognizes that the resin furniture sold has additives to resist ultraviolet (UV) waves. UV light deteriorates most resin furniture, causing it to become brittle and the finish to fade. It’s not a guarantee, but if your salesman can talk about the quality of the resin, especially if he can guarantee that it’s HDPE wicker, then there is a good chance that their supplier has passed on the technical specs of the resin to the store and that the salesperson knows a bit about what they are talking about and that you would be getting a quality product.  Resin wicker will feel great for many years.  The color is embedded within the resin, along with UV inhibitors that keep the color from fading.

Type of Frames

Ask about the type of frames used for the outdoor wicker furniture. If aluminum frames are being used, that’s good. If powder-coated steel frames are used, that is good, but not as good as aluminum frames. Powder-coated steel is a coating on steel to keep it from rusting. The frames are heavier than aluminum frames. Steel frames will typically begin to degrade sooner than aluminum. If you’re strapped for cash, purchasing outdoor wicker with powder-coated steel frames is your second-best choice because they should be less expensive than aluminum frames.

Weave of Wicker Strands

Evaluate the weave of the wicker strands. The weave should be tight for both open-weave and close-weave designs. Starting and stopping points within the weave of the wicker whip should not be conspicuous. The shape of the furniture should be uniform and symmetrical. For example, when you evaluate a chair, the left side should be symmetrical with the right. Before you become too picky, recognize one thing, wicker furniture is handcrafted. As such, there will be small differences in every single piece. But, overall, it should look good.

Wrapped ends, such as at the end of the feet of a chair or loveseat or the joint of support braces, should be finished so there are no loose ends. There should not be any glued areas or rough finished areas. Many times in discount stores, you might see displays with wicker unwrapping. This is not a good sign of a quality piece. Quality wicker furniture will take the abuse of many customers trying out the furniture and should not show any signs of deterioration.

Reputable retailers offer at least a 1-year warranty. Don’t buy if there is not a 1-year warranty on the furniture. If you buy from someone that offers less, you may regret it.

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