The Complete Guide to Buying an Outdoor Rocking Chair

Originally Published on October 26, 2017. Last Updated on April 8, 2024.

With their gentle back-and-forth motion and comfortable armrests, outdoor rocking chairs are synonymous with front porch R&R. We’ve benefitted from their calming and therapeutic qualities for centuries, lulling our babies to sleep, unwinding after long workdays, and even easing our back pain.

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Step 1: Are Outdoor Rockers Right for You?

Step 2: See How Much Space You Have
Step 3: Choose the Right Materials
Step 4: Select the Right Rocking Chair Style
Step 5: Pick Your Preferred Rocker Color
Step 6: Accessorize Your Porch

Step 1: Are Outdoor Rockers Right for You?

Here are some considerations to help you answer this question.

Traditional rockers typically feature straight and tall backrests. However, other designs may have curved or cushioned backs that offer comfort and relaxation in new ways.

While rocking chairs are designed for motion, their armrests are not great drink holders. We suggest pairing them with accent tables that keep drinks and snacks within reach.

Rockers’ curved runners perform best on smooth, flat surfaces such as concrete or tile. Grass, sand, cobblestone, and other uneven surfaces will hinder their movements.

Step 2: See How Much Space You Have

How much space do you need for patio rocking chairs?

Most rocking chairs measure roughly 37–45 inches tall, 26–30 inches wide, and 32–37 inches deep.

With these dimensions in mind, we recommend allowing 2–3 feet of clearance on all sides of your rockers. This free space lets folks move around the area and prevents the chairs from bumping into walls or furniture while you rock.

Let’s crunch some numbers. As shown in the above image, if you want two rocking chairs that are 1.5 feet wide and 3 feet deep, you need a space with a width of 9 feet and a depth of 7 feet. We highly suggest measuring your outdoor area before buying any furniture to ensure you have enough room to accommodate a rocker and its movement.

Step 3: Choose the Right Materials

When browsing outdoor rockers, consider the varying materials available, each with distinctive qualities and aesthetics that can impact your experience. These features should be top of mind before making your selection:

  • 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: Is it comfortable enough to allow for long periods of sitting?
  • Weight: Will it stay put when the wind picks up? Can you move it on your own? (Depending on the material, rocking chairs typically weigh between 15 and 45 pounds.)
  • Price: How much are you willing to spend on a rocking chair?
  • Appearance: Does the material fit your style and outside decor?

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a durable and weatherproof plastic—ideal for outdoor furniture, decks, playsets, and fencing.

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: HDPE


Pine, cedar, and other softwoods are common material choices for rocking chairs. 

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Softwoods


Hardwood is a sought-after material for outdoor furniture because of its beauty and durability. 

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Hardwood


Wicker is not a material—it’s a weaving technique. Wicker rockers can be crafted from bamboo, rattan, reeds, willow, or synthetic resin.

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Wicker

Injection-Molded Plastic 

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

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Injection-Molded Plastic

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron rockers appeal to those who like a rustic-industrial or antique-inspired aesthetic. It’s made by repeatedly heating metal and forming it into shapes with a machine or by hand.

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Wrought Iron


Typically, aluminum rockers are simple designs with hollow tubular frames, though some may be cast in a mold. To find out metal furniture is aluminum, use a magnet—if it sticks, it’s a different material.

Outdoor Furniture Materials Pros & Cons: Aluminum

Step 4: Select the Right Rocking Chair 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. Browse our style breakdown to find your furniture fit.

Traditional Rocking Chairs

Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 3-Piece Rocking Chair Set in Sand
Featured: Chinoiserie 3-Piece Rocking Chair Set in Sand

Synonymous with front porch relaxation, these styles pay homage to the rocker’s rich history. The designs sit upright with tall backs, straight arms, and narrower seats compared to other styles.

Adirondack Rocking Chairs

POLYWOOD Modern 3-Piece Adirondack Rocking Chair Set in Vintage Sahara and 16" Outdoor Throw Pillow in Ocean Teal
Featured: Modern 3-Piece Adirondack Rocking Chair Set in Vintage Sahara and 16″ Outdoor Throw Pillow in Ocean Teal

Combining the laid-back comfort of an Adirondack with the gentle motion of a rocker, these styles are available in classic and vibrant lumber colors, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and visual appeal.

Deep Seating Rockers

POLYWOOD Prescott Deep Seating Rocking Chair in Teak/Ash Charcoal
Featured: Prescott Deep Seating Rocking Chair in Teak/Ash Charcoal

Designed for those who prioritize both comfort and style, these rockers offer ample room to sink in and snuggle up. Enhanced by lofty, weather-resistant cushions, they provide a cloud-nine experience for ultimate relaxation.

Swivel Rockers

POLYWOOD Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Swivel Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table in Vintage Sahara/Spa
Featured: Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Swivel Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table in Vintage Sahara/Spa

For those seeking a dynamic rocking experience, consider swivel rockers that provide a full range of motion. This style offers side-to-side and back-and-forth movements thanks to a 360-degree swivel mechanism that attaches the seat to a fixed base.

Repositioning or getting in and out of these seats is convenient, requiring no cumbersome pushing or pulling of the chair. Instead, a simple twist of your legs guides you in the desired direction.


POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack 48" Glider in Mahogany
Featured: Classic Adirondack 48″ Glider in Mahogany

Glider chairs offer smooth, straight back-and-forth movements on a fixed track. The stationary base gives the glider an edge because, unlike rocking chairs, they work on gravel, cobblestone, brick, and other bumpy surfaces.

Step 5: Pick Your Preferred Rocker Color

Questions to Ask

Not sure what your preference is? Ask yourself these questions and let the answers guide you to your hue.

  • What’s my home’s exterior color scheme?
  • Do I want exact shade matches or coordinating colors?
  • How will my outdoor environment affect the colors?

Color Schemes

Modern farmhouse: White, black accents, and soft green, tan, and blue hints that mimic the rolling country fields and calm skies.

POLYWOOD Estate Porch Rocking Chair in Black POLYWOOD Quattro Adirondack Rocking Chair in Sand POLYWOOD Prescott Deep Seating Rocking Chair in White with Cushions in Natural Linen

Monochrome: Bring together black, white, and grey rocking chairs for a clean, modern look.

POLYWOOD Quattro Adirondack Rocking Chair in White POLYWOOD Modern Cureveback Adirondack Rocking Chair in Black POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack Rocking Chair in Slate Grey

Warm, woodsy neutrals: Embrace wood’s natural beauty or choose other materials in honeyed, russet, or chocolate hues.

POLYWOOD Chippendale Deep Seating Rocking Chair in Mahogany With Cushions in Spiced Burlap POLYWOOD Braxton Porch Rocking Chair in Teak POLYWOOD Presidential Woven Rocking Chair in Sand With Tigerwood Weave

Vintage red: Add energy and retro charm with a cheeky red rocker.

POLYWOOD South Beach Rocking Chair in Sunset Red POLYWOOD Vineyard Adirondack Rocking Chair in Sunset Red POLYWOOD Long Island Rocking Chair in Sunset Red

Tropical tastes: Citrusy lemon, lime, and tangerine paired with oceanic blues will put you in vacation mode.

POLYWOOD Presidential Rocking Chair in Lemon POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack Rocking Chair in Lime POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack Rocker in Tangerine

Moody hues: Navy, black, and other dark shades give a feeling of sophistication, depth, and mystery.

POLYWOOD Country Living Rocking Chair in Black POLYWOOD Vineyard Deep Seating Rocking Chair in Black With Navy Linen Cushions POLYWOOD Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair in Navy

Step 6: Accessorize Your Porch

After picking the perfect rocking chair material, size, style, and color, it’s now the moment to add the finishing touches with outdoor accessories.

Outdoor Cushions and Pillows

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

POLYWOOD Vineyard 3-Piece Deep Seating Rocking Chair Set in Teak/Natural Linen and 16" Outdoor Throw Pillow in Navy Linen
Featured: Vineyard 3-Piece Deep Seating Rocking Chair Set in Teak/Natural Linen and 16″ Outdoor Throw Pillow in Navy Linen


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


POLYWOOD Outdoor Umbrella - Available in Standard & Bar Heights



Side and Coffee Tables

Complete your outdoor setup with coordinating coffee and side tables. They’re perfect for holding snacks, beverages, or decorative items.

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

POLYWOOD South Beach 18" Side Table in White
Featured: South Beach 18″ Side Table in White


Bring nature to your front porch with outdoor planters. From flowers to ferns, planters add a refreshing and vibrant element to your outdoor space. Select planters that complement the overall design and color of your outdoor space.

POLYWOOD Traditional Garden 16" Planter in Sand
Featured: Traditional Garden 16″ Planter in Sand


Wrap up and rock on with cozy blankets. Choose weather-resistant materials for durability and warmth. Drape a blanket over your rocking chair for both style and practicality.

POLYWOOD Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair in Black
Featured: Vineyard Porch Rocking Chair in Black

Which POLYWOOD Rocker Is the Most Comfortable?

Experience all-weather durability, aesthetic appeal, and minimal maintenance with POLYWOOD rockers. Explore our rocking chair styles in our comparison guide to find your perfect fit.

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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