As Lloyd Flanders celebrates a quarter century of producing man-made wicker furniture, it is the perfect time to acknowledge the tremendous advancement they have made in the outdoor furniture industry. While Lloyd Flanders has been producing wicker furniture for over one hundred years, it was the invention of a manufacturing process which allowed for outdoor use that set them on track to be the company everyone wanted to copy.
That’s right. Every piece of all-weather, outdoor wicker you see that is not Lloyd Flanders had this company as their inspiration. Look what they started! Manufacturers known for crafting furniture out of wood or metal are now joining the growing number of those producing man-made wicker for outdoor use.
Wicker is nostalgic. It evokes memories of summertime and visiting Grandma’s house and sitting on the porch in her pretty (natural) wicker furniture. Although not made for outdoor use, being children, we never gave a thought to what kind of maintenance Grandad had to do to keep it looking good year after year. Or, maybe it didn’t look so good anymore. We were just kids and didn’t notice things like that.
Wicker offers a softer material than hard metal frames and blends nicely with metal or wood furniture. In an outdoor room where we don’t have fully upholstered furniture, wall to wall carpet, or draperies to help soften the space, placing man-made wicker furniture helps take the edge off the hard, cold feeling that can be the result.
With so many sources for all-weather wicker today, how’s a person to tell the difference in quality? How can you feel secure in knowing that the brand you choose will stand up to the elements? Here it comes…you know what I am going to say here. As with anything else, “you get what you pay for”. If you are interested in a guide to all-weather wicker, read my Outdoor Living Essentials article, “Wicker Furniture.”
In a nutshell, you should be aware that there are different qualities of raw materials which manufacturers select to produce their all-weather wicker. If a manufacturer is trying to hit a low price for their furniture, you can believe that they are not using the same quality raw materials being used by the manufacturer with a higher price tag.
It is important to assess your needs, budget, and expectations when making a purchase. Are you comfortable with the concept of disposable furniture? Would you rather make one purchase that lasts a long time, or are you comfortable with throwing things away after a couple of seasons (contributing to the landfill) and starting over?
You can tell where I stand. It’s one thing to find inexpensive accessories that aren’t a big investment and toss them when they don’t hold up in the weather. It’s quite another to invest hundreds of dollars in throw away furniture around which you have decorated your outdoor room.
Love orange? Great this year it’s in. But, what do you do when that orange furniture looks ratty, is unsafe to sit on, and you can’t get new cushions for it? Bye-bye. But, wait. What about the rug, drapery panels, dishes, and other accessories that you bought to create your orange crush hideaway? You can see where this is leading. It’s a snowball effect when that great deal doesn’t hold up and suddenly everything has to be replaced and you are faced with starting over.
Ask questions of the salesperson where you are shopping. If they can’t tell you where and how it is made, purchase at your own risk and don’t say I didn’t warn you. If they don’t know what UV stabilizers are or mildew inhibitors, forget about it. Can’t explain what kind of fabric covers those cushions or the difference between solution-dyed and other outdoor fabrics? Walk away and find someone who is trained and educated in the world of outdoor furniture. Unless, of course, you like throwing your hard-earned money away.