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What are the Different Types of Rocking Chair Designs?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

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.

Rockers, platform rockers and gliders are the three most common types of rocking chairs.
Rockers, platform rockers and gliders are the three most common types of rocking chairs.

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.

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Discussion Comments


I found some cool old rocking chairs for sale in my neighborhood. Someone down the street was having a yard sale, and she had a chartreuse upholstered platform rocker out there for only forty bucks.

I loved both the color and the price, so I snatched it up. It did squeak a lot at first, but I got my brother to oil it for me.

I can definitely tell that a spring governs the rocking motion. I can rock diagonally or back and forth, since it isn't tightly fixed.

One thing I have to remember is never to sit in this chair while nauseated. I did this once, and it made me so sick that I vomited. It definitely doesn't soothe a troubled stomach!


@Oceana – This may sound strange, but I have a fear of those type of rocking chairs. When I was little, I fell backward off of a swing, so I have been afraid of falling ever since.

I can't stand to rock or even recline in a chair. My husband really loves rocking chairs, but I would not buy one, because I was afraid he would injure himself, though this sounded a bit ridiculous to him.

So, we compromised and bought a glider rocker. I feel pretty safe when rocking to and fro without having to lean back. I even let my daughter sit on this chair, because I know she isn't going anywhere in it.


My elderly neighbors gave me an antique wooden rocking chair as a wedding gift, and it looks cool in my living room. I think it is at least fifty years old, but it is still in good condition.

I love it because it feels like being in a swing. The stride between the farthest point forward and backward is so long that it really feels like something a child would enjoy playing on.

I have been known to rock my puppy to sleep in this chair. I had no idea whether puppies would respond to rocking in the same way that babies do, but this puppy did.

He is now grown, and I have caught him sleeping in the rocking chair several times. Many animals would be freaked out by the unstable motion, but he remembers it from his youth and associates it with good times.


I have a white bentwood rocking chair, and I have often rocked myself nearly to sleep in that thing. Whenever I sit down in it, I feel like I sink down, and it is a little hard to get back out of it.

The wood is extremely curvy. In between the curved pieces that touch the floor and the seat are some s-shaped pieces that look very elegant.

The chair is backed with wicker, which is just soft enough but provides back support, as well. Curved wood frames the wicker.

I once sat down in this chair while holding my six-month old nephew. He fell asleep within seconds of being rocked, but when I tried to get up, I found that I needed help. This chair really hugs my bottom because of its curvy design.

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    • Rockers, platform rockers and gliders are the three most common types of rocking chairs.
      Rockers, platform rockers and gliders are the three most common types of rocking chairs.