Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

What is wicker?

Synthetic Wicker
Synthetic wicker is perfect for outdoor furniture. Would you like to sit here?
Synthetic wicker is perfect for outdoor furniture. Would you like to sit here?
Alberto Coto/Photodisc/Getty Images

A new type of woven furniture has emerged onto the market called synthetic or man-made wicker. These pieces of wicker furniture are usually made of resin or vinyl, which is basically a form of plastic [sources: Spryshak, Laneventure].The resin or vinyl is made into very thin strips and then woven to cover the furniture's frame, usually a lightweight metal such as aluminum. Some companies use pre-colored resin. Instead of painting it after the furniture is completed, the color is actually integrated into each strip of the resin, which adds to weather-resistance and reduces fading [source: Spryshak]. Synthetic wicker comes in a range of colors from dark brown to white.

Due to its chemical makeup, the synthetic wicker is suitable for outdoor furniture. It can stand up to moisture and the ultraviolet rays of the light [source: Spryshak]. Synthetic wicker furniture also requires very limited maintenance. If a piece gets dirty, it can simply be hosed off with water. For tougher grime, wash with a mild soap.

To add warmth and comfort to a synthetic wicker piece, many companies offer outdoor fabrics for cushions. Many outdoor fabrics are fade-resistant and water-resistant, along with being easy to clean [source: Spryshak, Laneventure].

Whether you're interested in synthetic wicker or natural wicker, much like other furniture types, wicker comes in a range of qualities, price points and styles. Wicker's versatility allows it to be adapted to a myriad of styles from a white wicker rocker for a beach-themed room to a dark brown synthetic chaise for a contemporary outdoor lounge. Yet, according to Spryshank, there's a trend away from traditional styles, to more of a transitional style, but not quite to the contemporary, boxy look. Cyr agrees, noting that people are staying away from the more ornate Victorian wicker pieces and choosing simple, classic shapes.

Throughout the centuries, wicker furniture has been treasured for its many unique qualities and great adaptability. The next generation's creativity and innovative spirit are the only limitations on the future of wicker furniture.