5 Expert Tips To Choose A Rocking Chair

Looking for a piece of furniture to help you calm your nerves in no time? Look no further than a rocking chair!

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A famous painting in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris is named “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1” but is better known as Whistler's Mother. The oil on canvas painting, created in 1871 by American-born painter James McNeill Whistler, shows “Mom” looking quite uncomfortable in a wooden chair with her feet resting on an elevated block.

How do I Know What Size of Rocking Chair to buy?

We all thank James and Anna for their contribution to art, but Anna Whistler was of diminutive stature and thus needed a chair better suited for her height. It’s too late for her but people shopping for a rocking chair today will find the tips in this article useful.

The average person will be able to fit into chairs that average between 26 to 30 inches wide and 32 to 37 inches deep. Those who are above the normal weight and hip size might want to consider a custom-made chair.

More important is a person’s leg length that must reach the floor while sitting to provide that gentle push to begin the gentle to and fro rocking action. Shorter people (5’ to 5’5”) will want to choose a seat height of 16 inches. Tall people over six feet will feel comfortable in a 17.5-inch height seat while those in-between will need a seat height of 16 to 17 inches.

A high back or low back is a matter of preference and remember that the weight of the chair will vary from about 15 lbs. to 50 lbs. depending on the material.

What’s the Best Material for a Rocking Chair to be Made From?

To answer this question, you will first need to address factors that will help you make the choice. For outdoor rocking chairs, the most important factor is durability and how they will stand up to sunlight, wind, and rain. Basic comfort and price are secondary.

Factors that influence indoor rockers are more involved and include the choice of upholstery, the type of chair, its weight, price, and most of all comfort. If you are the king of the house and your partner is the queen, then a plush, “cushy”, rocker recliner will be the thrones of your realm.

Here are some material options:

  • Have Teens that Like to Party? - Plastic Rocking Chairs

Outdoor plastic furniture made by injection molding is cheap and plentiful. Plastic tables and rocking chairs likely occupy the pools and patios of most American homes. While water and rust resistant, they will fade in color and eventually become brittle especially if exposed to the UV rays of sunlight. But they are great for parties and easy to replace if your teenager’s party gets out of hand.

Black Recycled Plastic Classic Porch Rocking Chair
Brown Plastic Poly Lumber Glider Bench
Cherry Wood Plastic Poly Lumber Adirondack Rocker Chair
Weatherwood Black Plastic Poly Lumber Glider Chair
White Resin Plastic Track Arms Rocking Chair
Black Beechwood Polypropylene Plastic Rocking Chair
  • Do you Have a Cat with Claws? - HDPE Lumber Rocking Chairs

High-Density Polyethylene or HDPE is a recyclable synthetic resin (plastic) that can be formed into a material that looks like wood. It can be made into quality furniture that is durable and highly resistant to wind and water. Maintenance is easy with dish soap, water, and a willing adolescent in need of a chore to perform. It also can be costly but the low maintenance, lifetime durability and that “Fluffy” will not be inclined to use it as a scratching post make HDPE an attractive option for a rocking chair.

Black Plastic High Density Polyethlene Woven Rocking Chair
White Plastic High Density Polyethlene Rocking Chair
Plastic HDPE Weatherwood Rocking Chair
Patriot Blue High Quality Adirondack Glider Bench
Dried Sage Weatherproof Rocking Chair
Federal Blue Adirondack Rocking Chair
  • Big Dreams but Short on Cash? - Rocking Chair Softwoods

Examples of softwoods are Douglas fir, cedar, and redwood but pine is the most popular for furniture. Pine is abundant in supply and inexpensive, but it doesn’t weather very well as outside furniture. Varnish will provide some protection from the elements and staining regularly should help preserve its look. Its lack of durability and resilience is countered by its price. It is a good choice for a lightly used indoor rocking chair.

Classic Cedar Fir Solid Wood Rocking Adirondack Chair
Natural Cedar Solid Wood Rocking Bench
Burlywood Fir Solid Wood Rocking Chair
Pine Solid Manufactured Wood Light Gray Linen Rocking Chair
Espresso Faux Leather Brown Pine Solid Manufactured Wood Rocking Chair
White Pine Solid Manufactured Wood Track Arms Rocking Chair
  • Looking for Sturdy and Traditional? - Rocking Chair Hardwoods

Examples of hardwoods include maple, mahogany, oak, teak, and walnut. As the name implies, hardwoods are more durable and difficult to scratch and dent than softwoods. They do require varnishing and staining for outdoor use. Hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods but are a much better choice for rocking chairs. They will provide sturdy and comfortable seating in traditional and modern styles.

Teak, the same hardwood used on yachts and outdoor decks has amazing durability and water resistance due to its high oil content. For a rocking chair that will be used inside or outside, teak is better than other woods hard or soft. The drawbacks are that it’s a bit difficult to maintain and if left alone can develop a silver-like patina, the wood color is the only option and as one might expect, it is more expensive.

Dark Oak Solid Manufactured Wood Brown Fabric Rocking Chair
Dark Brown Solid Acacia Wood Patio Rocking Chair
Dark Gray Acacia Solid Wood Rocking Chair With Polyester Blend Cushions
Beige Birch Solid Manufactured Wood Fabric Muted Blue Rocking Chair
Warm Brown Oak Solid Wood Rocker Chair
Natural Teak Solid Wood Rocking Chair
  • Spending Hot Summer Nights with Cold Lemonade on Your Porch? - Wicker Rocking Chairs

Like no other material, a wicker rocking chair evokes images of those hot nights on the porch of a southern plantation mansion. Sturdy and lightweight, it is easy to move but it is easily damaged causing the fiber strands to fall out quickly making it an appropriate addition to the junkpile. Natural wicker items and antique wicker artifacts can get expensive. Do not be fooled by cheap plastic wicker available at discount dollar stores. Like pine, any wicker rocking chair is best in an indoor situation with light use.

Wicker Rattan Metal Stainless Steel Patio Furniture Rocking Chair With Cushions
Black Wicker Rattan Steel Rocking Chair
Antique Pecan Wicker Resin Outdoor Rocking Chair
Brown Wicker Rattan Wood Rocking Chair
Wicker Rattan Steel Rocking Chair With Polyester Blend Cushions
Antique Gray Wicker Rattan Wood Rocking Chair

What Type of Rocking Chair is Best for Me?

The dual choice between a high back or low back rocking chair is easy compared to choosing the style of chair that will adorn your living room. The option of upholstery with an almost infinite choice of patterns and fabrics must be considered.

Let’s look at a few popular styles to help you narrow your field of options:

  • Traditional Rocking Chair - The traditional rocking chair is the most common and usually the most affordable. The basic rocker has passed the test of time and makes a gracious addition to any room in any number of designs. Creatures with paws and tails will soon learn to take naps at some distance from this rocking chair type
  • Glider Rocking Chair - The glider rocker has more moving parts with a set of levers and hinges that keeps you rocking on an even keel. It is more space-efficient than a traditional chair and will provide more comfort, but it is prone to malfunction. It is more expensive as well.
  • Spring Rocking Chair - Add some sturdy springs to the glider and you have a hybrid of the traditional and glider rocking chair. Your rocking will lift you a little bit in an arcing motion supported by the mounted springs. A hybrid in price as well, with the cost in between the traditional and glider.
  • Swivel Rocking Chair - We ramp up in complexity with a swivel rocker that adds the ability to spin in a 360° circle while rocking away. It is pricier and the risk of it breaking goes up exponentially depending on the number of kids you have that treat it like a mini merry-go-round.
  • Reclining Rocking Chair - The reclining rocker is the one type of chair that serves as the throne for the head of the household to relax as he or she rules the roost. After gently rocking for a few minutes you pull that lever (or push a button) and recline in that perfect position for a long nap. It is at the top of the price list.
Espresso Walnut Solid Manufactured Wood Traditional Rocking Chair
Brown Metal Sling Glider Chair
Metal Outdoor Spring Rocking Chair With Blue Olefin Cushions
Metal Aluminum Outdoor Swivel Rocking Chair With Biege Polyester Blend Cushions
Black Bonded Faux Leather Manufactured Wood Manual Recline Rocker Recliner
Solid Wood Metal Green Velvet Rocking Chair

Are Rocking Chairs Good for My Health?

Everyone should know by now the health hazards of a sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that rocking is far from an idle activity. Rocking has the potential to reduce anxiety and stress, increase blood flow, improve overall balance, provide a possible relief from back pain. With Mom singing a soft lullaby in the rocker, it will soon quiet a screaming infant. That alone will increase the health of everyone else in the house.

Will a Rocking Chair Damage my carpet?

A traditional rocking chair over time will erode any flooring material apart from marble or a hard laminate floor. They also will scoot while you rock causing wider damage to a carpet. Damage can be avoided by choosing any other style of rocker and perhaps with a barrier between the chair base and the carpet.

There is one final consideration that we cannot offer any advice on and that is how you and your partner will decide who controls the remote control of your 60-inch HDTV in your side by side rockers? The answer is probably to turn off the TV and ponder life’s deeper issues as you gently rock back and forth.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.