Best Outdoor Gliders

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
94 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best outdoor gliders

Last Updated October 2019

One of the simplest pleasures of warm, sunny weather is having a comfortable place to sit in your yard or on your deck while you enjoy the fresh air. An outdoor glider is just that: an outdoor bench that rocks gently and low to the ground, allowing you to kick back and relax as you sway in the breeze. They also look inviting and come in handy alongside a pool, in your garden, or on your front porch — really anywhere one might like to lounge al fresco.

Outdoor gliders come in numerous sizes, styles, colors, and weather-resistant materials — usually metal, plastic or wood. You can also find outdoor gliders with plush cushions or woven covers for extra comfort. Special decorative touches like flowers and extras like cup holders are available in some gliders, too.

Before you buy an outdoor glider, you’ll want to consider where you will keep it, and how exposed to the elements it will be, as well as what sort of style will fit into the aesthetic of that area best. Keep reading to get some ideas on how to best choose an outdoor glider for your home, and then check out our top picks.

While gliders vary on back height, most will have a similar seat height — usually 16 to 18 inches off the ground.

Key considerations

Bench length

The most common length for an outdoor glider in the traditional bench style is between three and four feet. This “love seat” size should comfortably seat two people. Some longer gliders may be able to seat three people, or even four small children.

If you’re right on space or just prefer individual seats, you can find a set of two chair-sized gliders, either completely separated or as a connected pair, often with a small table or gap in between. You will want to measure the length of the space you wish to keep your gliders to ensure the right fit.

Glider height

The height of your glider can play a big part in how comfortable it will be for sitting, as you most likely want full back support. When considering a glider, the height description refers to the distance between the top of the back on the glider and the ground. Most gliders are about 36 inches high. If you prefer a seat back that extends above your shoulders, you will want a high-back seat, so look for a model that has a total height greater than 40 inches.

Material

Gliders and their structural components come in weather-resistant materials like metal, wood, and plastic, or a combination of these. The best for you will be determined by several factors:

  • Durability
  • Your climate
  • If/where you plan to store it
  • Your preference for look and feel


Metal

Some of the most durable gliders, which can sit outside all year round are made from metal. One of the most popular is wrought iron. Wrought iron gliders are heavy and will not rust if you keep them painted.

Other metals include steel, which can hold a lot of weight, and is less expensive than wrought iron, but also not as durable. Metal outdoor gliders often have decorative accents, like flowers or more ornate details. Because metal gliders are very hard and can get hot in the sun, you will probably want to get seat cushions or some kind of fabric cover.

Wood

Wood looks good and is softer and more comfortable than metal. It does not always endure year-round weather changes like plastic and metal, though. The best kind of wood for outdoor furniture is teak, which has natural oils to prevent rot. Other good choices include cedar, which is also high in oils. Pressure treated wood and wood that is painted or sealed can also hold up in wet conditions. You can apply a protectant, water-repelling spray to help extend the life of wood. Wooden gliders will often be the most expensive.

Plastic

Plastic is another common material for outdoor gliders, as it holds up well to the elements (save for extremely hot or cold temperatures and intense sun exposure) and tends to cost less than metal or wood. Recycled plastic is eco-friendly and long-lasting. Some recycled plastics are strong enough to be able to serve as a sturdy frame material. Other types of plastic may be used in glider seats, often with a metal frame. Some plastic can stay out all year round, although in very harsh winter climates, it’s best to store it in shelter when temperatures might dip below freezing. Plastic is the easiest glider material to clean and tends to weigh the least. 

Mesh

Mesh materials are used in some gliders to create the seats and backs of the benches. They are held in place by more durable framework, like a metal or wood. The mesh is usually made from a poly product which is waterproof, and they dry quickly. Mesh components on a glider have a little bit of “give” to make them comfortable for sitting. Designs on the mesh may look woven, like wicker, or have a tighter weave for a screen type of design. Either style works well and holds up outside. Gliders with mesh seats are often foldable for easier storage, and often cost a lot less than metal or wood.

Other materials

Although less common, you can also find gliders made of wicker, cloth (seats), resin, vinyl, rattan, and even stone.

Weight limit

Check the weight limit to make sure your glider is designed to hold the weight of the people who plan to use it. If you are not sure, it is good to get a glider with a weight limit of at least 400 pounds. More heavy duty gliders can hold 500 pounds or more. Exceeding the weight limit on your glider can cause it to bend, fail to glide, or even collapse.

Split back vs. straight back

Gliders have two styles of bench backs> split and straight.

  • Split back style gliders look more like two chairs connected together than one bench seat. If comfort is your top priority, this design may be a better choice. Split back style gliders are more likely to have curved and high backs. While more comfortable, you may not like the look of this design as much as a full, straight back glider. Split back gliders can look a little clunky, rather than sleek or retro in style. There are some that have very aesthetically pleasing designs, though.
  • Straight back styles on outdoor gliders are more common and make them look more like a bench. These backs are usually not contoured for ergonomic comfort. The style is simple, easy to put together, looks good, and can be very comfortable, especially with an added cushion.

The smooth motion of a glider makes it an ideal place for a nap.

Features

Cushions

Some gliders come with cushions, which can make your glider feel a bit more like a couch. Cushions are a plus for comfort and style. If you choose a model with cushions, make sure they are weather resistant and the material is UV protected. The primary disadvantage of cushions is staying wet for a while after it rains. They are usually slow to dry unless in direct sun. The ties that hold them in place can deteriorate, so cushions often only last a few seasons if they are exposed to a lot of sun, moisture, and wind.

Pay close attention to if the glider actually includes cushions, as many are pictured with them but do not include them. Cushions are also a great way to mix up the look of your glider, and you may want a couple different colors to brighten up your patio in different seasons.

Tray

Trays are usually added to the arm-rests or can fold down in the middle of your glider seat. A tray should be small, but large enough to hold a drink, plate or other small item you want to keep handy. A tray is a great added feature for outdoor gliders because you do not have to stop gliding to use the table function. Anything on the tray simply glides with you. 

UV protectant

A UV protectant is a treatment on your glider to protect it from breaking down and fading under the glare of the sun. Cushion materials with UV protectant will keep their colors brighter for longer. The same is true of UV protectants on paint and mesh, which will break down more slowly on your glider than on models without it.

Accent table

Some gliders come with a separate, matching side or accent table, which you can use to place items you want at the ready, like a beverage and a book. You may also like a side table to use as a footrest, as most gliders do not have footrests built in.

EXPERT TIP

If you cannot bring your glider inside for winter weather, you can purchase a furniture cover to help protect it from snow and ice.


Staff  | BestReviews

Outdoor glider prices

Inexpensive: Plan to spend at least $100 for a quality outdoor glider. These gliders will be smaller than the more expensive models, or made from less durable materials. They will likely not include any extras, like cushions or side tables. At this price point, most gliders will be made out of plastic or very lightweight metal. They will likely not withstand heavy use or harsh climates.

Mid-range: At the $200 price point, outdoor gliders will include more well designed features, like wood construction, or cushions and woven materials for bench seats, which add comfort. For about $300 to $500you should be able to find a very well made bench or two seat glider with solid materials in both wood and metal.

Expensive:  The most expensive models are also the most durable. Recycled plastic models designed to look like wood can cost $500 to $1,000. If you want a wood glider with high-end teak wood, expect to pay about $1,300. You can also find some ornate wrought iron gliders with decorative cushions and other extras in the $500-plus range.

Tips

  • When looking for a wooden outdoor glider, make sure the wood is pressure treated to withstand wet weather.
  • If you’re concerned about durability, you can treat your glider with wood or metal protector, which is available in a spray bottle. Follow the instructions, but usually these just entail applying an even coat in a well ventilated area. 
  • Gliders tend to be a little more difficult to put together than other outdoor furniture, because of their moving parts. It will be easier if you have someone help with assembly.
  • Adjusting the tightness of bolts on your glider assembly can help adjust the ease with which your glider moves. 

Other products we considered

If you were hoping to find a good three-seat glider for your outdoor space, we recommend the retro-style Bates Sofa Glider by Crosley Furniture. It is made from powder coated steel with a UV protectant and is more than five feet long.  Not into the retro vibe? The Amish Casual all-wood glider comes in a five-foot length and can hold up to 800 pounds. It is made with pressure treated wood, so it’s ideal for harsher climates. 

Gliders with cushions are more comfortable but have wide slat seats that are not comfortable for sitting without the cushions.

FAQ

Q. What tools will I need to assemble my glider?
A.
Assembly is accomplished on most gliders with a series of screws placed into pre-drilled holes. You will need a wrench as well as an allen wrench. If you do not have a set of tools, many of the packaged gliders come with small versions of these tools included with the necessary hardware. You may prefer to use a power tool, especially if you don’t have help.

Q. Does my glider have to be placed on a hard surface?
A.
Check the legs on your glider. If they are individual legs, rather than two sled-style legs,  you will need to make sure they are on a hard surface. Otherwise they will sink into the ground, and your glider may stop gliding freely. If you want to place your glider in the grass, choose a model with a sled-style leg or a supportive bar at the bottom of the legs on each side.

Q. How far does a glider move?
A.
Gliders rock gently in a relatively limited distance, which is constrained by the size of the base. Usually, they move between four and six inches, back and forth. The advantage of this limited span over a swing or rocker is it does not require as much space behind the rocker to be able to glide freely without hitting whatever is behind it.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • William
    William
    Director of Product Management

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