How to Assess the Quality of Wicker Used in Baskets

a buyer shopping and carefully Assess the Quality of Wicker Used in Baskets

Wicker comes from flexible woody stems that can be woven or tied together to create lightweight yet durable products like baskets. Assessing wicker quality is important before purchasing baskets to ensure they will withstand regular use and last for years. This article will provide tips on how to visually inspect, feel, and bend test wicker to determine its grade.

Factors to Consider When Assessing Wicker Quality

When looking at wicker, there are a few main things that tell you how good its quality is. The thickness, tightness, material, and treatment all show how long it will last:

  • Thickness: Thicker wicker has stronger reeds/cane that don’t bend or break easily. Thinner wicker uses smaller reeds that aren’t as tough.
  • Tightness: A tight weave where the reeds are packed close together forms a sturdy surface that resists wear and tear. A loose weave with big spaces puts stress on individual reeds and causes them to tear sooner.
  • Material: Some plants like rattan and sea grass have silica which prevents rotting. Willow may bend, crack, or dissolve when wet. Tougher reeds like rattan work better outside.
  • Treatment: Untreated wicker will soak up water over time and rot from the inside out outdoors. Look for finishes that protect the fibers from sun/mold and keep them durable.

The thickness, weave tightness, material choice, and treatment all affect how long the wicker will last before breaking down. Paying attention to these factors helps you pick a wicker that holds up well over the years.

Visual Inspection for Quality Wicker

Start by holding the basket up to a light source to see through the weave. Quality wicker will:

  • Appear evenly thick throughout without thin spots
  • Have a uniform tightness to the weave with no gaps
  • Show no visible cracks, breaks, or lesions in the cane/reed

Inspect all surfaces including the bottom, sides, and rim. Poor quality may be thinner or looser in certain areas. Rotten or diseased cane quickly loses structural integrity.

Feeling for Quality Wicker

Put on gloves for protection if needed before handling bare wicker. Quality material will feel:

  • Firm and rigid, not limp or flexible
  • Smooth with no sharp edges or rough patches
  • Consistently cylindrical without oval distortions

Low spots could fail under stress. Irregular thickness hints at inferior processing. Always test multiple areas by gently squeezing.

Bend Test for Quality Wicker

The definitive test is gently bending a small section between your fingers. High-quality wicker will:

  • Resist bending and slowly return to its original shape
  • Not become permanently warped or distorted
  • Not creak or produce sounds of internal friction

Brittle wicker that cracks or snaps easily under minimal pressure should be avoided.

Wicker Quality Comparison Guide

To give a clear overview, here’s a table outlining the key differences between various wicker grades:

CharacteristicHigh QualityMedium QualityLow Quality
ThicknessThick, dense reeds 3-5mm wideModerate thickness 2-3mmThin reeds under 2mm
Weave tightnessTightly packed with no spacesSome small gapsLoose weave with large holes
MaterialRattan, seagrass, premium caneMixed materialsWillow, weaker plants
TreatmentWaterproof sealantSemi-permeable finishNo protective coating
FlexibilityFirm but slightly pliableMore flexibleVery limp and bendy
DurabilityLasts 20+ years with careAbout 10 yearsLess than 5 years
Typical usesHeavy-duty furniture, plantersDecorative baskets, containersLight gift baskets, accents
Estimated costHighest price point$ – $$Lowest affordable wicker

What to Look for in Quality Wicker

Now that methods for assessment are clear, focus on wicker that exhibits the ideal characteristics:

  • Evenly thick cane throughout the finished product
  • Tightly woven construction with no visible gaps
  • Flexible yet retaining rigidity under bending
  • Treatment for protection from environmental damage
  • Premium reed species like rot-resistant rattan

Check all surfaces, feels, and bending to verify consistent grade wicker.

Signs of Low-Quality Wicker

Be wary of wicker that shows any of these red flags:

  • Visible thin or sparse areas that could fail
  •  A loose, slack weave that offers less support
  •  Cracks, lesions, or other damage to the plant material
  •  Bends excessively or permanently distorts under pressure
  •  Contains woody cores that may eventually protrude

Inferior wicker poses a risk of premature deterioration or structural compromise.

How to Maintain a Wicker

Proper care helps keep wicker performing as intended. Some tips:

  • Clean gently with a soft brush or damp cloth only
  •  Allow to fully dry before storage to prevent mildew
  •  Protect from direct sun or heat which causes fading
  •  For furniture, occasionally apply a UV protectant
  •  Inspect regularly for signs of cracking or wear

With basic upkeep, premium wicker can maintain beauty and usefulness for decades.

Selecting the Right Wicker for Your Needs

Quality comes at a price, so consider intended use when choosing wicker grade:

  • Heavy-duty wicker for furniture, children’s items, or heavy loads
  • Weather-resistant varieties for outdoor planters or patio sets
  • Decorative displays – thinner wicker may suffice for light-duty

Balance durability needs with aesthetics and budget. Rattan generally provides the best all-around performance.

Common Uses for Wicker

Some typical applications where quality wicker shines include:

  • Outdoor furniture like chairs, loveseats, and ottomans
  • Large storage baskets and hampers for laundry or toys
  • Decorative planters for window boxes, porches, or gardens
  • Serving baskets and trays for picnic foods or hosting
  • Children’s toys, strollers, and recreational equipment

Wicker lends itself beautifully to casual, relaxable living spaces both inside and alfresco.

Why High-Quality Wicker is Best

It’s worth taking the time to check wicker quality before buying. Here’s more on why the best wicker is a good choice:

It Lasts – Top wicker stands up to rain, sun, wind, and regular use for a long time without breaking. It won’t bend or snap easily from weather or being moved around like furniture.

Won’t Wear Out – With good care, premium wicker can look great outdoors or inside for over 20 years or more. That’s way longer than cheap wicker.

Looks Nice – Finely woven wicker that feels the same all over makes planters, baskets, and furniture beautiful. Everyone will notice how nice it enhances your space.

Earth Friendly – Wicker comes from plants so it’s renewable and decomposes without pollution. Other materials harm nature more.

Stays Comfortable – Thick, tightly packed reeds allow airflow so even on hot sunny days, wicker items feel cool when you touch them. Your hands won’t get sweaty holding a basket.

Saves Money – Wicker that lasts a very long time gives you many years of use for your money compared to low-quality wicker needing replacements. It’s worth the higher cost upfront.

By learning how to check wicker, you’ll pick pieces you enjoy having outside or inside your home for an extended time. They become a nice investment.

Evaluating Wicker – A Valuable Skill to Master

We learned methods to test wicker like looking close, touching it, and gently bending a small piece. We saw what signs mean by high-quality versus low-quality wicker.

Some things to look at are thickness, tightness of weaving, material type, and treatments. These affect how long it lasts. We saw a table comparing the best, average, and worst grades.

With practice, anyone can get better at inspecting wicker. Choosing top-quality sources means enjoying nice decorations for many years. Taking time to examine wicker when buying saves money in the long run from items lasting. It also means you’ll be happy with wicker furniture and containers in your home or garden.