Rocking Chairs Buying Guide

The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Rocking Chair

Originally Published on October 26, 2017. Last Updated on March 24, 2023.

With their gentle back-and-forth motion and comfortable armrests, outdoor rocking chairs have become synonymous with leisurely mornings and together time on the front porch. For centuries, traditional rockers have been used to lull babies to sleep and help adults relax; the rocking motion is even reported to have therapeutic benefits—hello, self-care!

POLYWOOD Presidential Rocker 3-Piece Set in Black
Featured: Presidential Rocker 3-Piece Set in Black

If you’re deciding whether or not to invest in outdoor rocking chairs of your own, you’ve come to the right place. Our comprehensive, easy-to-follow buying guide helps you decide which seating option will work best with your outdoor space and lifestyle.

Jump to Section
Step 1: Decide if Outdoor Rocking Chairs Are Right for You
Step 2: Determine How Much Room You Have
Step 3: Choose the Right Materials
Step 4: Choose the Right Rocker Style
Step 5: Choose the Right Color Rocking Chair
Step 6: Accessorize Your Lounge Area
Rocking Chair History

Step 1: Decide if Outdoor Rocking Chairs Are Right for You

First things first: Will outdoor rocking chairs fit your space and needs? Here are some considerations to help you answer this question.

  • Outdoor rockers work best on smooth, flat surfaces such as concrete, outdoor tile, and wood decking. Grass, gravel, cobblestone, or other uneven surfaces don’t allow for the runners to rock as intended.
  • Rocking chairs do take up a surprising amount of space, so make sure to measure your outdoor area first to confirm you have adequate room plus enough clearance for the actual rocking motion.
  • When kids or pets are around, take extra care so little feet, paws, and tails don’t get caught under the chair’s curved runners.
  • Some materials like wood, natural wicker, resin, and aluminum need to be moved inside, weighed down, or otherwise protected during inclement weather.
  • There are options that work with a wide range of budgets, but it’s important to note that inexpensive options don’t tend to wear well and may need to be replaced after a year or so.

Step 2: Determine How Much Room You Have

How to Measure for an Outdoor Rocking Chair

Thanks to their back-and-forth motion and roomy seats, rocking chairs take up more space than you might expect. We highly suggest measuring your outdoor area first to ensure you have room for a rocker.

Most rocking chairs measure somewhere between 37–45 inches tall, 26–30 inches wide, and 32–37 inches deep. We recommend allowing for 2–3 feet on all sides of your rocking chairs. This free space lets folks move about the area and prevents the chairs from bumping into walls or other furniture while you rock.

Let’s crunch those numbers. If you want two rocking chairs that are 1.5 feet wide and 3 feet deep, you need a space that’s at least 7 feet deep by 9 feet wide.

Step 3: Choose the Right Materials

Arguably the most important factor in selecting outdoor furniture, the right material can make or break the experience of owning a rocking chair. Outdoor rockers come in various materials that range in quality and aesthetic, but these features are what should be top of mind when choosing yours:

  • Durability: Does it handle repeat use and outdoor elements such as rain, wind, and sun exposure?
  • Maintenance: From refinishing to cleaning, how much upkeep does it need?
  • Comfort: Does it provide enough comfort to sit in for extended periods of time?
  • Weight: In the event of wind, will it stay in place? Can you move it on your own? (Rocking chairs typically weigh between 15–45 pounds, depending on the material.)
  • Price: How much money are you willing to spend on a rocking chair?
  • Appearance: Does the material coordinate with your personal style and existing outdoor decor?

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is short for high-density polyethylene, a durable and weatherproof plastic that’s the ideal material for outdoor furniture, decks, playsets, and fencing. At POLYWOOD, our HDPE lumber is a proprietary blend made using sustainable materials, including landfill-bound and ocean-bound plastics.

HDPE Lumber: Points to Consider

  • HDPE is easy to clean and maintain, usually needing only a scrub with soapy water and a soft-bristle brush.
  • While more expensive than other plastics, HDPE’s resilience, strength, and longevity offset its cost.
  • HDPE materials come in a variety of fade-resistant colors.
  • Most rockers crafted from HDPE can be used with or without cushions.


Pine, cedar, and other softwoods are common material choices for rocking chairs. It specifically refers to wood produced by coniferous trees — evergreens and trees with cones and needles.

Softwoods: Points to Consider

  • Softwoods are inexpensive and readily available.
  • Pine and other softwoods are often knotty, which may appeal to those who like rustic furniture.
  • You’ll have to refinish your softwood rocker about once a year to protect it from outdoor elements.
  • Softwoods scratch and dent easily.


Hardwood is a sought-after material for outdoor furniture because of its natural look and eventual patina. This term refers to wood from deciduous trees, or trees with leaves that fall off in autumn.

Hardwoods: Points to Consider

  • Hardwood is an expensive material and certain types — like teak — are harder to come by.
  • To maintain its beauty, hardwood needs to be stained and varnished regularly.
  • Hardwood is generally heavy and durable, so wind and weather won’t easily damage it.
  • Hardwood furniture is resistant to dents, scratches, and scuffs.


Although often referred to as such, wicker itself is not a material—it’s an umbrella term that describes furniture woven in a certain style. Wicker rockers can be crafted from natural materials like bamboo, rattan, reeds, and willow, or synthetics like resin.

Wicker: Points to Consider

  • Wicker tends to be lightweight, making it easy to move around. Unfortunately, this also means it may be vulnerable to strong winds.
  • Natural wicker rocking chairs are prone to fading and cracking if they aren’t protected from the elements and regularly dusted, washed, and sprayed with protectant.
  • Natural wicker is a porous material that’s not suitable for extreme weather conditions like heavy rains or snow.
  • HDPE wicker (also known as all-weather wicker) is a great option for those who like the breezy look of wicker but don’t have time for the upkeep.

Plastic Injection Molding

To create a chair via injection molding, molten thermoplastic (plastic that’s pliable when heated) is inserted into a chair-shaped mold where it’s left to cool and solidify.

Injection Molded Plastic: Points to Consider

  • Injection-molded plastic chairs are resistant to water, rust, and mold.
  • While available in many colors, these chairs tend to fade quickly when exposed to sun.
  • Injection-molded plastic chairs are mass produced and therefore inexpensive.
  • Though lightweight and easy to move around, these chairs are helpless against wind gusts and can warp in hot weather.

Wrought Iron

With their elegant style and undeniable charm, wrought iron rocking chairs appeal to those who like antique-inspired furniture or the rustic-industrial aesthetic. Wrought iron is made by heating the metal again and again, forming it into shapes with a machine or by hand.

Wrought Iron: Points to Consider

  • Wrought iron is sturdy and heavy, making it resistant to wind gusts and harsh weather.
  • Wrought iron requires regular maintenance to prevent rust.
  • Rockers made from wrought iron, especially those forged by hand, can be expensive.
  • On its own, wrought iron furniture isn’t very comfortable — you’ll want to add cushions.


Typically, aluminum rockers are simple designs with hollow tubular frames, though some may be cast in a mold. If you have metal furniture and want to check if it’s aluminum, hold a magnet to it—if it sticks, it isn’t aluminum.

Aluminum: Points to Consider

  • Aluminum is inherently resistant to rust.
  • Hollow aluminum frames are lightweight, making this kind of furniture easy to carry. However, strong winds can easily move them too.
  • Aluminum rocking chairs need added cushions for comfort.
  • An aluminum rocker left out under the sun can get intensely hot on warm, sunny days — so much so that it’s not usable until it can cool off.

Step 4: Choose the Right Rocker Style

The basic structure of rocking chairs hasn’t changed much since their invention in the 18th century, but there’s now a wide variety of styles to choose from. From classic to modern styles, there’s something for every persuasion. We’ve curated some of our favorite POLYWOOD rockers, including porch-perfect designs, Adirondack-inspired styles, and spacious deep seating rockers.

Porch-Perfect Styles

Synonymous with front-porch relaxation, these styles nod to the rocker’s rich history and its journey from past to present with timeless designs that are easily recognizable.

POLYWOOD Braxton Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Presidential Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Presidential Woven Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Shaker Porch Rocking Chair
POLYWOOD Prescott Porch Rockling Chair POLYWOOD Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Nautical Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Jefferson Porch Rocking Chair
POLYWOOD Jefferson Woven Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Estate Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Country Living Porch Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Country Living Legacy Porch Rocking Chair

Adirondack Styles

This style combines the laid-back comfort of an Adirondack and the motion of a rocker. These rockers are available in classic and vibrant lumber colors.

POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Adirondack Outdoor Glider Chair POLYWOOD Vineyard Adirondack Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack Outdoor Rocker
POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Seashell Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Palm Coast Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD South Beach Outdoor Rocking Chair

POLYWOOD Long Island Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Quattro Adirondack Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Nautical Adirondack Outdoor Rocker

Deep Seating Styles

Big on comfort and on style, these rockers offer more room to sit down, sink in, and rock on. With their lofty, weather-resistant cushions, you’ll be on cloud nine.

POLYWOOD Braxton Deep Seating Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Vineyard Deep Seating Outdoor Rocking Chair POLYWOOD Prescott Deep Seating Outdoor Rocking Chair

Click to Compare all POLYWOOD Rocking Chairs

Step 5: Choose the Right Color Rocking Chair

Classic Finish — Traditional Colors
Classic Finish — Vibrant Colors
Classic Finish — Select Availability
Vintage Finish — Traditional Colors

The right color for your rocking chair ultimately comes down to personal preferences. Black, white, or grey rocking chairs play well with modern design. Neutrals are a popular choice due to their versatility, so tan, brown, and beige lounge seating will look superb in any outdoor living room. Vibrant hues like red, orange, blue, and green add personality and a pop of color. That said, your color selection may be somewhat dictated by the material you choose. Metal and wooden chairs come in limited colors unless they’re painted or stained (which requires regular upkeep to prevent chipping, peeling, and fading). Injection-molded plastic and HDPE lumber chairs are available in a variety of shades, offering you a rainbow of choices. If you opt for plastic outdoor rockers, try to steer clear of seating with veneers, which means the color is only on the surface. The color doesn’t last as long, and it’s prone to chipping and peeling. Instead, look for furniture where pigment and UV inhibitors are blended with the plastic material, ensuring your seating is saturated with fade-resistant color from surface to center.

Step 6: Accessorize Your Lounge Area

You’ve picked out the perfect rocking chair material, size, style, and color—now it’s time to add the finishing touches with outdoor accessories. 

Outdoor Cushions

POLYWOOD Outdoor Seat Cushion in Spiced Burlap
Spiced Burlap
POLYWOOD Outdoor Seat Cushion in Chartreuse Boucle
Chartreuse Boucle
Glacier Spa

All-weather cushions and throw pillows are quick ways to add comfort and color to your new rocker. If you decide you want a  new look, they can be switched out seasonally, annually, or whenever the mood strikes. 


POLYWOOD 9' Tilt Market Umbrella & Base— Now Available in 3 Colors
Featured: 9′ Tilt Market Umbrella & Base

Want to enjoy your rocker no matter the forecast? Create shade from the sun or shelter from light rain with an outdoor umbrella. For the most flexibility, look for ones that tilt and close up when not in use. 

Side Tables

POLYWOOD Vineyard Porch Rocking ChairS and South Beach 26" Counter Side Table in Mahogany
Featured: Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair and South Beach 26″ Counter Side Table in Mahogany

Pair a side table with your rocking chair(s) to keep a magazine, refreshing drink, or fresh-baked pastry within easy reach.

Rocking Chair History

Just like POLYWOOD furniture, the rocking chair hails from the United States. While many people credit Benjamin Franklin as the chair’s inventor, historians traced its origins to the early 18th century, when Franklin was just a child. Regardless of who invented it, the inspiration behind the traditional rocking chair design came from rocking cradles and rocking horses, both of which existed hundreds of years before the rocking chair appeared. Initially used outdoors, this seating eventually made its way inside the home to living rooms and nurseries.

And did you know…?

  • Results from a 2019 study published on indicated that the chair’s back-and-forth motion improves deep sleep and memory.
  • The rocking motion also helps reduce back pain. According to a 2017 scholarly article published on, John F. Kennedy’s doctor prescribed rocking chair usage as one of the ways to manage his chronic back pain. He had more than a dozen rocking chairs, including one that traveled with him on Air Force One.

As with any furniture purchase, choosing a rocking chair is a big decision. We hope you now have all the insight needed to make an informed one. If you do opt for a POLYWOOD rocker, you can rest easy knowing it’s backed by a 20-year warranty and is ready for anything Mother Nature throws its way. Let us know which style you like the best in the comments below!

45 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Rocking Chair

  1. I wanted 2 Lime Green Presidential Rockers until I sat in them. The seat isn’t wide or deep enough. And then the back….far to upright. I was so disappointed. I was ready to purchase until I actually sat in one.

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for your interest in our rocking chairs — all POLYWOOD furniture is made at our headquarters in Syracuse, Indiana or our newest campus in Roxboro, North Carolina.

  2. I have sat in a poly wood rocker and it did seem too straight up / upright. Does this vary at all between rocker styles?

  3. Hello, its good piece of writing regarding media print, we all be familiar with media iis a impressive source of data.

  4. I’ve been wanting to purchase a wooden rocking chair for my grandmother since her birthday is fast approaching. I’m glad you shared this; I’ll make sure to pick a chair that consists of contoured seating and is accessorized for maximum relaxation. Although, I’ve bee thinking of looking for a shop that customizes wooden pieces.

  5. If I purchase 2 Presidential Rocking Chairs and place them on an outdoor area rug, how large should that rug be with room enough for a small table between the chairs? The current rug I have is 5’1″ x 7’6″, but I’m wondering if this is too small. The porch is probably only 5’6″ wide, so I can’t go much wider than a 5′ rug.

    Also, what size cushions fit the Presidential Rocking Chairs?

    1. Hi Mandi,

      Great question! The recommended minimum space for two Presidential Rocking Chairs and a side table is 94″ W x 42.5″ H x 59″ D. This would be a great guideline when trying to see which size of rug would you like to pair with the set. The size of the cushion that pairs with the Presidential Rocking Chair is 20″ W x 2.5″ H x 20″ D. I have include the link to the cushion here,
      Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us!

    1. Hello Cecelia! Thanks for your question! We do have some porch rocking chairs with a wider seat of 27″+. Here are the links to them on our website:

      Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair –
      Nautical Porch Rokcing Chair –
      Shaker Porch Rocking Chair –

      I hope this helps you! Thanks for reaching out!

      1. This person is asking for a chair with a wider seat, NOT just a wider chair. I was looking for a wider seat as well and your chair seats are all 20-21” wide.

        1. Hi Margo,

          Thank you for clarifying. At this time, our porch rocking chairs are all going to have the standard seat size right around 20″. That’s a great suggestion though! Thank you for taking the time to reach out.

    1. Hi Brian!

      Thank you for taking the time to look at our article about picking the best rocking chair for you. To ensure the the rocking chair that you chose meets all of your needs and wants, these considerations certainly give you a place to start when reviewing all of your available options.

      All the best!

  6. I was extremely pleased to uncover this web site. I wanted to
    thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!!
    I definitely appreciated every bit of it and i also have
    you book marked to look at new stuff in your blog.

    1. Hi Sheryl,
      That’s a great question!
      Most of our rocking chairs arrive in 4 to 6 main components. Typically someone with minimal furniture assembly experience can put one together using the hand tool we provide in about 30 minutes. The use of powertools, having someone help you, or more assembly experience can speed the process along though.
      Thanks for asking!

  7. I did not see anywhere to get samples of colors/materials. I am interested in purchasing rocking chairs, but I would like to see the colors first. Can you send me a sample of Sand, Teak, and Mahogany. Thank you.

  8. HI, I am sorry that I have to mention another business for this post but we love the feel of the rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel restaurants and wonder what style in our line of chairs would match?

  9. If I order 2 rocking chairs directly from your company, how long would that typically take? I had planned to order them from Wayfair this year, but they are already sold out! Or would it be better to find a local dealer? I really want to enjoy my porch this summer.

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thanks for asking!

      We’re a build to order manufacturer and the lead times are tied directly to incoming order volume. Spring and Summer tend to be the busiest times of the year for us, so as more customers start placing their orders, then the lead times are adjusted accordingly. As we see the demand start to drop off, then the lead times will also shorten as there are fewer orders on the production schedule.

      You can also check to see if there is a local dealer near you that has the furniture already in stock for you to purchase and take home the same day using our showroom locator:

      Have a wonderful day!

  10. What is the material you use for the hardware? We need two rockers to be used on an ocean front deck, so the hardware must be capable of standing up to a very corrosive, salt-air environment.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      All POLYWOOD hardware is 18-8 stainless steel with an AlloChrome 3200+™ finish and cosmetic coating. We do recommend rinsing the furniture and hardware periodically to help mitigate the effects of a salt environment.

      Have a wonderful day!

  11. I wanted something like that. But I didn’t think I would get here. The chairs are impossibly beautiful. I searched a lot. However, these are very comfortable and durable.
    Thank you.

  12. Pls tell me, where in San Antonio, TX, can I try a Polywood rocking chair. I would like to sit in one and get a feel for it. I will be ordering two of them.

  13. Do you have a rocking chair that is higher than 18.5 inches? My husband has arthritis in his knees and it is difficult for him to stand from lower surfaces.

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    1. Hi Denise,

      Our Seat Cushion – 20″ D x 20″ W x 2.5″ H (SKU: XPWS0007) pairs with our Estate Rocking Chair (SKU: R199). You can view the cushion by clicking “Shop Perfect Pairings” on the Product Page.

      Thanks for asking,

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