a rattan wicker rug on a wooden floor


Originally contributed by • last updated 3/15/2021


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. It’s famous around the world for its strength and durability as a building material. And it’s trendy with a lot of interior designers who are trying to achieve a boho chic or classic bohemian look. But what is it, exactly? And how is it different from wicker?


When it comes to home improvement and DIY, the term rattan typically refers to a type of fibrous wood-like palm material that commonly comes in long thin sheaths of various lengths. This fibrous material is usually compared to willow and bamboo for its use in wickerwork and other projects. Its wood-like surface allows it to take on paint and finishes, similar to other types of wood, making it available in a variety of colors. It is typically used to weave together various accessories, pieces of furniture, and, in some cases, clothing. It is also commonly used to make lengths of reeds, which are known to be effective and long-lasting at diffusing essential oils in aromatherapy. Items made from this building material, such as patio furniture, headboards, coffee tables, and daybeds, are often considered style must-haves for a good boho chic or French country design theme.

What’s The Difference Between Wicker And Rattan?

If you’re new to wicker furniture, you may also be confused about some of the materials, such as palm, bamboo, and willow, that are often used when weaving it together. One of the main questions that always comes up is about the differences between wicker and rattan. However, you may be surprised to find out it’s not what you think:

  • Unlike rattan, willow, or bamboo, the term wicker (or wickerwork) refers to 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. It can also be weaved from other materials, such as bamboo or willow.
  • These days, faux wicker furniture and accessories can also be made from synthetic materials and composites, and are sometimes pressed into wicker patterns instead of actually being woven together.