a rattan wicker rug on a wooden floor


Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/18/2021

Whether you’re into making wicker furniture or you’re looking for an effective way to diffuse essential oils, you’re probably familiar with the term rattan. But what is rattan, exactly?


When it comes to home improvement and DIY, the term rattan typically refers to a type of fibrous wood-like palm material that comes in long thin sheaths or reeds. Rattan is commonly compared to willow and bamboo for its use in wickerwork and other projects. Rattan is used in several applications, including rattan accessories, rattan furniture, and rattan reeds for diffusing essential oils. Although rattan is a popular material for patio furniture, interior accents such as rattan headboards, coffee tables, and daybeds, are style must-haves for a good boho or farmhouse chic design. Rattan reeds (or wicks) are known to be effective and long-lasting at diffusing essential oils in aromatherapy.

What’s The Difference Between Wicker And Rattan?

If you’re wondering what the differences are between wicker and rattan, you may be surprised to find out it’s not what you think:

  • Unlike rattan, willow, or bamboo, wicker (or wickerwork) is a type of weaving technique and not an organic building material. Wicker furniture is often made from rattan because of its durable and sustainable nature.
  • These days, faux wicker furniture can also be made from synthetic materials and composites, and is sometimes pressed into wicker patterns instead of being woven together.