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Not All All Weather Weave Garden Furniture is the Same - Viro Weave Versus PE Rattan

Rattan is a very popular material for making furniture. The vine of the plant that is native to tropical forests of the Far East is highly flexible and extremely light yet exceptionally strong and durable. This along with its highly appealing look makes it ideal for all sorts of furniture with the exception of garden furniture. Unfortunately, rattan furniture does not perform well in outdoor settings and is vulnerable to the outdoor elements, most notably moisture and ultraviolet light. Protective finishes and coatings help extend its durability but even if treated, natural rattan furniture does not withstand the outdoor extremes particularly well nor long. Those beautiful pieces of rattan garden furniture that you can see in showrooms and online galleries are therefore made from synthetic rather than natural rattan.

Synthetic rattan looks and feels almost identical to its natural counterpart and it is woven in the same manner. But in contrary to natural rattan, the synthetic fibres are engineered to withstand the exposure to the outdoor extremes including the damaging ultraviolet light and moisture. Not all all weather garden furniture, however, is the same and not all all weather garden furniture withstands the outdoor conditions as well as its manufacturer promises.

Most pieces of all weather garden furniture are made from PE which is abbreviation for polyethylene. It is the most widely produced plastic and is used for all sorts of products including packaging, bottles and bags, plastic films, etc. but it is also a popular material for making outdoor furniture because it is weather-proof. However, there are different types of polyethylene and their ability to withstand the exposure to the outdoor extremes, most notably ultraviolet light varies greatly from one type of PE to another. But how can you tell which PE rattan furniture is a good choice and which is not?

First of all, it is important to be aware that polyethylene can generally be categorised into three types - high-, medium- and low-density polyethylene. The higher the density the better the resistance to the outdoor conditions as well as to the everyday wear and tear. Why? Because low-density PE (LDPE) has more branching, and weaker intermolecular forces and strength than high-density PE (HDPE). At the same time, HDPE is also harder and can withstand higher temperatures than LDPE. As a result, all weather weave garden furniture which is made from HDPE performs much better in harsh outdoor conditions than that made from LDPE. Every PE rattan is a better choice than PVC for instance, however, pieces of furniture which are sold simply under the name "PE Rattan" are typically made from low quality polyethylene.

In order to show you the difference between (LD)PE rattan and high quality HDPE rattan such as Viro weave, we will take a closer look at properties of both synthetic materials and their resistance to the outdoor elements:

Resistance to water and moisture. Both PE rattan and Viro weave are resistant to water and moisture and will not get mouldy or rotten if left outdoors in the rain. This, however, is characteristic for most man-made materials including low quality plastic. But it is also true that not all plastic materials remain unaffected by exposure to water and high levels of moisture. They may not be vulnerable to rot, mould and mildew but low quality plastic gets relatively easily stained, especially by a combination of water and dirt.

Resistance to UV light. Theoretically, both PE rattan and Viro weave are resistant to UV light. But in reality, most pieces of furniture which are made from PE rattan eventually fade if they are exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. In contrary to PE rattan, Viro weave is not prone to fading and discolouration due to exposure to UV light because it is specially engineered and tested to withstand the effects of direct sunlight exposure. Also, HDPE Viro weave can withstand higher temperatures for a longer period of time than "ordinary" PE rattan.

Ease of maintenance. Neither PE rattan or Viro weave requires any special care other than occasional cleaning with mild soapy water to remove dust and dirt. But since PE rattan is not as resistant to staining as it promises to be, it requires more frequent cleaning. And if it does get stained, it is virtually ruined forever because it is very difficult to remove stains from a plastic material. Stains on a lightly coloured furniture can be made less visible by leaving the furniture exposed to the sun for a few hours, however, exposure to direct sunlight can cause even more unappealing discolouration if the furniture is not white.

Resistance to wear and tear. Since (LD)PE rattan is less dense and strong than HDPE Viro weave, it is more prone to damage due to everyday wear and tear. As a result, PE rattan garden furniture needs to be replaced earlier than that made from Viro fibre.

Eco-friendliness. All types of PE rattan furniture can be made from recycled materials and are often advertised as an environmentally friendly choice, however, PE remains a major environmental concern. The thing is that no product that is made from PE is truly harmless for the environment unless specially treated. Most pieces of PE rattan furniture take decades to decompose and while it decomposes, the plastic releases toxic substances into soil, groundwater and air. Viro weave, on the other hand, contains no hazardous substances and does not release any toxins when discarded. It does not harm the environment even if it is burned. In addition, it is 100% recyclable and is made with the use of the latest technology which meets all environmental standards which makes it a truly green choice.