Using the right materials is crucial for outdoor furniture to withstand the natural elements.
Wicker should be made of 100% PE (polyethylene), with a high percentage of High Density PE (HDPE). Avoid wicker made of PVC or Low Density PE –these materials become brittle under sunlight, so splitting occurs within a year or so. However, it is not easy to tell what they are, and most shops do not know either.
It is understood that if a factory uses PVC or low density PE, which are cheaper, you can bet they will cut corners in other area. So the trick is to spot these problems and avoid choosing such furniture.
The rattan should have a nice finish, and it should not look cheap or “plastic”.
Weaving should be tight & well done, not messy, especially at corners & joints.
There should not be any visible staples.
Turn the furniture over to check on the workmanship. The weaving should be well done, staples should be concealed, and there should be no loose ends.
The frame should be made of aluminum tubes and should be powder coated to protect it. Powder coating is paint covering the tube, and it should not be peeling off.
Weight-bearing furniture like sofas & chairs, should have “support lines” under seats (as shown below). These “support lines” are the main weight-bearing strut. Make sure these support lines are made of wicker and not metal tubes, which you would feel when sitting down.
If you don’t want glass for your table, make sure it has a board (plastic or aluminum) under the table top.