The three most common types of rocking chair designs are rockers, platform rockers, and gliders. The traditional rocking chair design is that which features two feet known as the rockers that are curved lengths of wood. These two curved lengths of wood are the only two points of the rocker that make contact with the ground. Designs have evolved somewhat since that design, and the aesthetics of the rocking chair have also changed. More elaborate designs, such as bentwood rockers, are quite eye-catching and feature beautiful craftsmanship.
Platform rockers feature a base that is essentially spring-loaded. The chair itself is mounted to the base, and the springs control the rocking motion. These rockers became popular but never fully replaced original rockers; today, many rocking easy chairs feature a platform design. Such chairs often feature a reclining position as well, with a foot rest that extends from the internal part of the chair. The rocking motion is often not as smooth or as long as a traditional rocker, and when the springs are not oiled, they can squeak after time. They do, however, provide a stable base and will prevent the chair from shifting during use.
Glider rocking chair designs feature a stable base as well, and the chair is mounted to the base using a series of braces. The braces allow the glider to rock back and forth without dipping, creating a gliding motion. These rocking chair designs are quite popular as well and are often coupled with a separate piece that acts as a gliding footrest or hassock. The two pieces can be used in conjunction, creating a simultaneous gliding motion. One drawback, which some people consider an advantage, is the chair's resistance to tipping backward. Some people find the tipped back position to be awkward or unstable, but this position actually puts the user in a very ergonomic position. Gliders generally do not allow that ergonomic position.
The aesthetic rocking chair designs available vary significantly. Bentwood designs are made from lengths of wood that are steamed and then bent into curved pieces. Mission style furniture has its own distinct style that features parallel slats that are often stained to reveal the grain of the wood, and they are a far less elaborate design than bentwood rockers. Modern rocking chairs feature smooth lines and a less traditional feel, while rustic designs often feature unfinished wood full of knots and bumpy surfaces.