Many people think that gliders and rocking chairs are the same, but there is a subtle difference between them. When you lean back on a rocking chair your feet have to rise to complete the motion, whereas, on a glider chair, your feet stay at the same level because the front edge of the chair does not rise up to complete the motion. Many manufacturers make a matching gliding stool so that when you are using the chair and you wish to elevate your feet at the same time, your feet are fully supported and the stool can glide in concert with chair. Typically when you glide back and forth you only need to push with your legs slightly with your feet on the floor to create the motion on the chair. With rocking chairs you usually use your toes to lift the front of the chair to create the rocking motion.
These chairs come in hundreds of different styles, sizes, finishes and materials so the selection is enormous. I recommend you go online before heading out to the furniture showrooms before you buy, to get an idea of what is available to you. This is another one of those products that are not commonly found in too many showrooms because they are not a top seller however, there are many furniture stores that have access to these chairs for you to purchase. There are very few stores, however, that will bring in a chair just for you to try out, so you will need to find a glider chair somewhere to test to see if you like the fit and feel.
You will want to check the construction of the chair and make sure that it is solid and rigid; examine the glider mechanism on the underside of the chair and see how it is put together. Check all the joinery to confirm it will stand up to being used by different sized people on a regular basis, without failing. The quality of glider chairs all comes down to the caliber of the gliding mechanism and how it is attached the chair chassis. Be sure to find out the weight capacity of the unit in case you may have some users of ample proportions using the chair. Often it will be posted on the product but if not check with your sales rep and have them confirm the manufacturers’ suggested weight load limit.
Know the height of the back of the chair you desire. Many glider chairs come with a high back so that you have head support while you are sitting in the chair. Some low backs are available but the majority of the styles are going to be high back to add extra comfort. Check the back angle of the chair to confirm that when you are leaning back that you are not staring at the ceiling. Check to see if there is a mechanism lock so that when you get out of the chair it is not sliding all over the place and making it difficult to get out of the chair. I have seen some elderly people have a terrible time trying to stand up because the chair will not stop moving so they nothing to lean or push against. Also, if you have a baby in your arms, you definitely need to be able to stand up smoothly and safely.
The seat height of this type of chair is critical because if you can’t put your feet on the floor in front of you it is impossible to make the chair glide back and forth. You need something to brace yourself on to create the motion and the floor works best. If your feet cannot touch the floor then you should consider getting a stool or ottoman that you can rest your feet on and push against to glide.