Wicker Furniture Guide | Pier 1 Imports - Pier 1

Wicker Furniture Guide | Pier 1 Imports

Your Complete Guide to Wicker Furniture

Since 1962, Pier 1 has been your source for rattan and wicker furniture, starting with our timeless classic, the Papasan. Now we offer an impressive collection of wicker and rattan furniture in a variety of materials, from bamboo to banana leaf.

Read our wicker guide to learn about what wicker is, how it’s made, and how to properly care for your Pier 1 wicker so it lasts for years to come.

The Basics: What is Wicker?

Wicker is a general term that defines a technique of weaving natural materials into beautiful furniture and accents but isn’t a specific material in and of itself.

The wicker style encompasses any furniture that is woven from synthetic or natural hard fibers such as rattan, bamboo, seagrass, and more. Its sturdy construction, light weight, and stylish versatility make it an ideal choice for outdoor patios and indoor living spaces alike.

Wicker vs. Rattan: What’s the Difference?

It can be a bit confusing when you see the terms “wicker” and “rattan” used interchangeably. As noted above, wicker is more the style of furniture, while rattan is an actual material.

Rattan is actually a group of plants, which includes more than 600 prolific, fibrous plant species that grow in a number of ways, from shrubs to climbing vines. Some species can grow more than 300 feet in length making rattan an abundant, sustainable resource for manufacturing a style of wicker furniture.

Used since ancient times for basket weaving and other domestic purposes, the wicker furniture style saw a revival in the 1960s and 1970s, known for its natural simplicity. Now, as it once again surges in popularity, professional and novice designers are enjoying its natural, hue that brings warmth to any room while being neutral enough to blend with nearly any color scheme.

Due to its versatility and flexibility, rattan can be bent and curved to create beautiful, organically shaped furniture that adds a textural element to a room. The long stems of rattan are commonly used for furniture, but other parts of the plant can be used as well.

Since it’s indigenous to tropical regions, rattan is a durable wicker material choice due to its natural resistance to insects and ability to withstand various temperatures and high humidity. There are also synthetic versions of wicker that are low maintenance and ideal for outdoor applications.


When rattan’s outer skin or peel is removed and cut into thin strips, the resulting wicker material is called cane. Rattan cane is used for weaving chair seats or wrapping joints on wicker furniture and is produced in many different gauges, ranging from carriage fine to the largest slab rattan. It has a natural glossy finish and isn’t ideal for stain or paint but is considered most beautiful in its natural state.


Kubu is a style of rattan furniture that’s made by packing the rattan in wet clay and allowing it to season until it gets a distinctive, soft, ashen color. Kubu rattan is exceptionally strong and is prized by furniture-lovers for its distinctive dusky shade.

In addition to its notable color, Kubu is characterized by its thicker weave in contrast to cane, which is quite delicate and ornate. Kubu is a sturdy choice for storage baskets and a common material for dining room furniture that can withstand long-term use.


Reed is the thin, flexible material inside the rattan core. Most often used for basket weaving, it may also function as an ornamental element in wicker furniture. Unlike cane, it has no natural finish and readily accepts paint or stain.


Closely resembling, and often mistaken for rattan, bamboo has a solid core and distinguishing ridges where the leaves were attached. In contrast, rattan is hollow with leaf nodes that are not as pronounced as bamboo.

While both rattan and bamboo wicker furniture are stable, rattan’s density can make it a more long-lasting choice. Unlike rattan, bamboo grows in straight shoots, which can limit its use to more linear applications, but its rapid growth makes it a highly sustainable choice for furniture and other products.


Made popular in 19th century England, willow or twig wicker furniture is still crafted today, although the supple branches are now most often used in basketry. Willow can be soaked for flexibility and woven or bent to form graceful, rounded shapes.


The term seagrass is used for a variety of flowering plants, such as water hyacinth, that grow in shallow coastal waters. Seagrasses are not related to seaweed but are more closely akin to the lily. The leaves are generally long and narrow, resembling terrestrial grasses that make delicate, organic baskets for storage and other wicker accessories.

Banana Leaf

Banana leaf furniture is made from natural banana fibers that are dried, twisted, and braided into a rope. The rope is then hand-woven over a frame to create wicker furniture and sturdy, stylish storage options ideal for lightweight items like blankets, magazines, and toys.

How Pier 1 Wicker Furniture is Made

Pier 1’s beautifully crafted wicker furniture is created with care and precision, and with the home designer in mind. Anyone can brighten up their space with Pier 1’s accessible designs that are produced in the following three stages:

1. Framing

To create unique, organic rattan frames characteristic of wicker furniture, long rattan poles are steamed and bent into the desired shape using a jig or mold. Once dry, the rattan pieces are assembled to make the frame. All wicker furniture frames from Pier 1 are nailed or screwed together and then wrapped with rattan peel, which adds both strength and a decorative element.

2. Weaving

Weaving is an intricate, hand-crafted form of wicker that can take from one to four days, depending on the type and complexity of the piece. The tighter the rattan weave, the longer it takes to complete the furniture piece and the more costly the process. Rattan strips are attached and woven over the frame in an open (spaced) or closed (tight) weave.


Every piece of wicker furniture crafted for Pier 1 features a minimum of seven finishing steps:

1. Deburring (rattan ends are burned off for a smooth feel)
2. Sanding
3. Applying first color coat
4. Sanding
5. Applying second color coat
6. Sanding
7. Lacquering

Pier 1’s wicker is the highest quality thanks to the extra steps taken to exceed industry standards, including:

  • Only large, sturdy rattan strands are used
  • Rattan is bleached prior to construction to ensure even color
  • Paint is evenly applied to each piece, which is then sanded and lacquered for a smooth, consistent finish
  • Each piece is painted or stained completely, including backs and bottoms
  • Each piece is reinforced with cross-bracing for maximum stability
  • Foot glides are included on all Pier 1 wicker furniture to protect floors

  • Wicker Furniture Styles

    One of the many benefits of wicker furniture is its versatility. Whether you’re looking for a durable outdoor patio set, or a statement piece, there’s a style of wicker furniture for you.


    When you think of wicker furniture, chairs are likely one of the first pieces that come to mind. Pier 1 proudly offers this quintessential wicker piece in a variety of styles from formal dining chairs to the bohemian Swingasan®. Choose from hand-woven rattan and wood chairs, or durable, synthetic wicker materials to withstand the outdoor elements. Whatever your vibe – coastal, classic, modern, or vintage – Pier 1 has the perfect wicker chair.

    Dining Sets

    Whether you want a classic indoor dining set, or a playful outdoor patio set, wicker is a timeless option that complements any style. Match wicker furniture with your color scheme or even a classic Bistro Chair pattern. Wicker gives you the freedom to show off your design sense, while embracing the wicker trend.

    Bedroom Sets

    The natural look of wicker materials is a perfect addition to a cozy bedroom, adding texture, shape, and style to your personal space. Go bold with a hand-woven abaca fiber headboard, or keep it airy with a natural rattan headboard that brings a fresh perspective to a vintage classic.

    Outdoor Sets

    Keep continuity in style from indoors to outdoors with a wicker patio set. Outdoor wicker furniture is often handcrafted with synthetic rattan to create supportive, long-lasting pieces that you can enjoy for years to come. Choose a blend of materials like rattan and glass or rattan and rust-resistant metals to effortlessly match your style.

    Caring for Your Pier 1 Wicker Furniture

  • Because many wicker products are made from natural materials, exposure to the elements is not recommended (except for all-weather wicker). Moisture and sunlight can cause damage to rattan and other wicker materials over time. Enjoy your wicker furniture indoors or in a covered outdoor environment for longevity.
  • Vacuum regularly to remove dust. Occasionally clean with a wood cleaner to remove grime and retain natural luster.
  • On dark wicker, use a furniture polish containing a matching stain.
  • If furniture is exposed to moisture and develops mildew, simply wipe the affected area with ¼ cup bleach added to 1 quart of water. Test first on an inconspicuous spot as this solution may lighten the rattan’s color slightly. Rinse with a wet cloth and allow to dry completely. When using this method, be sure to take the item outdoors and wear protective goggles, gloves with cuffs, and old clothing.
  • To maintain your wicker furniture’s like-new appearance, apply a fresh coat of semi-gloss or gloss lacquer every few years.
  • Wicker Trivia

    Now that you’re a wicker wizard, enjoy a few fun facts to share at parties and show off your stellar knowledge about all-things wicker furniture!
  • It takes approximately 10,000 weavers to produce enough wicker to supply Pier 1 stores.
  • Wicker lasts. The earliest known evidence of wicker furniture dates back to 4000 B.C., while the oldest surviving pieces date from the Egyptian Empire (1500 – 1000 B.C.) and include chests, wig boxes, hassocks, and chairs.
  • Wicker was found in the tombs of both Cleopatra and King Tut.
  • You think that’s old? The Talarurus dinosaur (Greek for “wicker-tailed”) was so named for the wicker-like tendons that stiffened its deadly tail.
  • The Victorians believed wicker’s smooth surface to be more hygienic than upholstered furniture.
  • The first wicker known to be in America was a baby crib, which arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.
  • For his first transatlantic flight in 1927, Charles Lindbergh had a wicker pilot’s seat installed in his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis.
  • Rattan is so strong that it’s used to construct hot air balloon gondolas and the Malaysians use it to build suspension bridges.
  • Rattan cane was once the standard implement for school corporal punishment in England and Wales, and is still used in some countries.
  • The Potawatomi Indians believed there was an elderly woman who lived on the moon weaving a basket. It was said that when the basket was finished, the world would end.
  • Why Wicker Furniture is Right for Your Home

    If you thought wicker furniture was outdated or only for outside purposes, think again. Wicker styles like cane are seeing a resurgence in popularity and are a wonderful textural element to liven up a bland space. And it’s not just furniture – use wicker baskets to brighten up a corner for attractive storage, or hide dirty laundry in a tall, woven hamper.

    Whatever your needs and style, Pier 1 offers an extensive selection of all types of wicker furniture and accessories from individual pieces, to entire dining sets.

    Find your wicker style at Pier 1 online and begin enjoying the beauty and benefits of wicker furniture in your home.