Updated November 2021
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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 all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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Buying guide for Best rocking chairs

Imagine yourself sitting on a front porch in a rocking chair, drinking iced tea, and enjoying a mild evening. Perhaps instead you picture yourself in the nursery, rocking your baby to sleep. Rocking chairs can evoke some idyllic images, which often makes people think these chairs belong in the past, but they are hugely practical and can be used in many different ways. 

You still need to decide which rocking chair to get, however, and with so many options available, choosing one can be tough. You'll want to select the right material for your rocking chair, as some materials are ideal for outdoor use, while others are suited to indoor use only. You also need to decide if you prefer an upholstered rocking chair, one with loose cushions, or one that forgoes padding altogether.

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If you intend to use a rocking chair with your child, select a model that's got a wide enough seat that you both can fit comfortably.

Key considerations

Materials

You can find rocking chairs made of a wide range of materials, all of which have their good points and bad. These are some of the most common.

Wood: If you have a classic rocking chair in mind, opt for wood. It's strong, looks good, and can last for generations. Of course, not all wooden rocking chairs are created equal, so you'll find some flimsy as well as durable models. Depending on the wood and its finish, some wooden rocking chairs are suitable for indoor use only, but others can be used indoors or outdoors

Metal: Virtually indestructible and weatherproof with the right coating, metal rocking chairs are ideal for outdoor use. Metal isn't the most comfortable material to sit on for long periods, however, so you'll want to add some loose cushions for padding. 

Plastic lumber: High-density polyethylene (HDPE) lumber is plastic that's specially designed to look like wood. It's an excellent choice for outdoor use since it won't be damaged by the elements and is extremely easy to clean. However, high-quality plastic lumber rocking chairs can be expensive. 

Wicker and rattan: These rocking chairs are made from woven plant materials. They're not durable enough for outdoor use but look a bit too casual for indoors, so they're more often used in summer houses or covered porches. You can also find synthetic wicker and rattan rocking chairs that are made from plastic designed to look like their natural counterparts. These are suitable for outdoor use.

Rocker vs. glider

Standard rocking chairs have curved rockers to give you a gentle back and forth rocking motion. Of course, due to the nature of the curve, you’re tilted forward and backward slightly as you rock. Most people are perfectly happy with this, but some people prefer a smoother motion with no tilting. 

Enter the glider — it’s designed to move you forward and backward while staying completely upright. Since the glider mechanism is more complex than a standard rocker, you can expect to pay more for a glider-style rocking chair.

Cushions and upholstery

Traditionally, rocking chairs were made from bare wood, but many people today want a bit more comfort, especially when relaxing or sitting for long periods. That explains the popularity of upholstered rocking chairs with built-in cushioning covered in fabric. 

However, if you don't like the look of fully upholstered rocking chairs or prefer something that's easier to clean, you can find some that come with removable cushions, either just on the seat or on the seat and back. Rocking chair cushions are also available separately, which is ideal if you find a rocking chair you love that doesn't have any kind of padding. 

Style

When thinking of a rocking chair, most people picture a traditional rocking chair made of wood with hand-turned back slats and a vintage style. However, you can find contemporary rocking chairs in more styles than you can imagine. Some look sleek and simple, some look extremely traditional, some have a mid-century modern vibe, and some have a fairly neutral appearance that looks great with almost any décor. 

Parents commonly use rocking chairs for nursing and soothing babies, so one makes a great addition to a nursery.

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Features

Color

Color is more important if you're looking for an indoor rocking chair because you presumably want it to match your existing furnishings. A single rocking chair on a porch or in your backyard is likely to fit in no matter what color you choose, unless you have other outdoor furniture you want to match. Luckily, you can find rocking chairs in a wide range of colors, so you're bound to find one that will fit in. 

Weatherproof

If you want to use your rocking chair outdoors, you need to choose a weatherproof material, such as Polywood or resin. You might get away with a wood that ages well outdoors, such as cedar or teak, especially if you live in a relatively dry climate or you intend to use your rocking chair on a covered porch. 

Foldable

You can find some foldable rocking chairs, which are a little like camping chairs or folding patio chairs but with a rocking or gliding mechanism. These are great for outdoor use if you don't have much space, since you can fold up your chair and put it away when you're not using it, freeing up extra space on your porch or in your yard.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Some studies have shown that using a rocking chair boosts endorphins, so it may help reduce chronic pain and slightly lift your mood.
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Rocking chair prices

Rocking chairs vary widely in price depending on a range of factors such as material, style, size, and overall quality. 

Inexpensive: Basic rocking chairs cost between $50 and $100. These include those made from budget materials, foldable rocking chairs, and child-size rocking chairs. 

Mid-range: These rocking chairs are priced at roughly $100 to $200. You can find some excellent wooden, metal, plastic, and upholstered rocking chairs in this price range, but you can also find some flimsy options, so choose wisely. 

Expensive: High-end rocking chairs cost roughly $200 to $500. At this price point, you can expect your rocking chair to be extremely durable and made from top-quality materials. You can find all kinds of rocking chairs, including handmade options and fully upholstered rocking recliners. 

Place your rocking chair on a smooth, level surface for the best rocking experience.

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Tips

  • Check whether assembly is required. The vast majority of rocking chairs bought online require assembly, but a few arrive with no assembly required. Check the product description to see what tools you’ll need, too. 
  • Check the rocking motion. The whole point of a rocking chair is to rock, so if the motion is jerky or unpleasant, you'll want to reconsider your choice. Online customer reviews can be helpful here.
  • Check the dimensions. This is important, particularly if you're furnishing a small room or you intend to position your new rocking chair in a tight spot. 
  • Check the return policy. If you find your chosen rocking chair isn't quite up to scratch, it should be easy to return. However, bear in mind that you'll probably need to disassemble it in order to box it and return it. 
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All rocking chairs have a maximum weight limit. It's important you choose a chair that can accommodate the heaviest person who's likely to use it.

FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of a rocking chair? 

A. If you're still wondering whether a rocking chair is right for you, it's time to examine some of the benefits of rocking chairs. The repetitive rocking motion has a relaxing effect on both adults and children. Due to their soothing effects on babies, they're popular with new parents who use rocking chairs to help lull their infants to sleep. And it's not just babies who can sleep better after being rocked. Some research suggests that adults sleep more deeply after using a rocking chair, plus it can reduce stress and anxiety. Not only is rocking relaxing, but it can also help with both back pain and arthritis. The act of rocking itself can strengthen muscles, leading to reduced back pain, while the increased blood flow from rocking can lessen joint pain. 

Q. Should I choose an upholstered rocking chair for a nursery? 

A. Choosing an upholstered rocking chair for a nursery has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it will be comfortable for you to sit in, even for long nursing sessions or hours of soothing a fussy baby. On the downside, a leaking diaper or spit up can ruin the chair unless you can spot clean it. A good alternative is a rocking chair with removable cushions that can be machine washed and replaced. 

Q. Can you find rocking chairs that recline? 

A. Although not as common as standard upright rocking chairs, you can find some rocking chairs that recline for the ultimate in comfort. Ideally, they should have a few different angles so you can find your ideal position.

 

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