Comparing sun loungers and zero gravity chairs for ability to relax laying down in the garden

I there anything more relaxing than lying back in the garden with the sun shining on your face, a gentle breeze taking the edge of the heat now and then, the smell of BBQ drifting through the air, and of course, a cool box full of refreshments to work your way through.

Back in the day, a good hammock was my go-to spot for lazing in the sun, but as more and more garden furniture options became readily available, I’ve given each a try to see which clicks with me the best. Besides, I always had problems getting into my hammock-

In this article we will compare two of the most popular types of garden furniture- sun loungers and zero gravity chairs, to see what each of them does best, and to ultimately help you decide on which one to buy.

What is a sun lounger?

Sun loungers, sometimes called recliners, are somewhere between a chair and a bed. They usually have adjustable backrests so that you can sit up with your legs outstretched, or lay the lounger down flat for things like sleeping, or more comfortable tanning of your back.

Sun loungers are available in a variety of materials, from wood and metal to hardened plastic, and each has its pros and cons which we will briefly cover here-

Wooden garden furniture always looks fantastic, and sun loungers are no exception, giving your garden a natural and traditional look. They are not the most comfortable to sit or lie on if you don’t have cushions, and you will have to perform maintenance on them now and again with a lick of paint or wood stain, but they are still a very popular choice in the UK.

PVC sun loungers are quite common in the UK, thanks to their durability, low maintenance, and comparatively low cost. Like wooden loungers, you really need cushions to make these products comfortable, and the plastic does tend to get quite hot in the sun. Thankfully though, they are usually very lightweight and so you can drag them into the shade for a while, or maybe set up a shade sail. This video will show you how-

Metal sun lounger frames are most often made from aluminium, chosen for its exceptional rust-resistant properties and lightweight nature. These frames are usually covered with some kind of fabric to add comfort, although the quality of this fabric varies from product to product. Aluminium is quite easy to dent, so you have to be careful not to bang it around when storing your sun loungers in the shed or moving them around.

Another metal used is stainless steel and again, it offers good resistance to rust and corrosion if it’s powder-coated, and is very strong when compared to aluminum. With the extra strength comes extra weight, and this can both a good and bad thing. On one hand, it makes this furniture more stable, but on the other, it is harder to move around unless it has wheels mounted. Stainless steel is used to make all kinds of garden tools from garden trowels and hand forks to spades and garden hoes, so you know that it is tried and tested.

Rattan garden furniture has long been a favourite for Uk gardeners, so it should come as no surprise that there are some lovely looking rattan sun loungers out there. Once more, you will need to buy a lounger with nice cushions to be comfortable on rattan furniture, and they can get damaged quite easily too. Still, they do look great-

A very common material used on lower-budget sun loungers is textoline. This is a waterproof and breathable mesh fabric that also offers a good deal of strength and durability. This material has been used in the construction of all kinds of garden furniture in recent years, such as garden swing seats and egg chairs The main downside to this type of sun lounger, and similar products made from things like synthetic resins, are that they are very lightweight and you might end up chasing them across the street when a gust blows through the garden.

Many of these products come with cushions for extra comfort, but some are just sold as the lounger only and require you to buy the cushions separately. To be honest, I would invest in a good set of sun lounger cushions anyway, as it’s always good to have a spare.

Not all sun loungers are adjustable, and quite a few wooden or moulded plastic loungers are actually fixed in shape. These usually have an ergonomic, curved shape to make them more comfortable and better for people with issues with their back, but they are not so comfortable for lying on your front.

If you can’t find exactly what you want, and you fancy yourself as a bit of a DIY master, why not have a go at building your own sun lounger? There are plenty of instructions on how to do so online, just like this one-

What are zero gravity chairs?

While they resemble sun loungers at first glance, zero gravity chairs do differ and offer you their own set of advantages. These chairs get their name from their ability to tilt you back while you remain in the same seating position. Once your feet get to a higher level than your heart, a lot of the stresses of gravity are reduced, and this makes you feel much more relaxed.

This fixed seating position is not just something that the manufacturers have guessed, by the way. In fact, it was actually something that NASA developed from observing how astronauts’ bodies relaxed in zero gravity environments, and is much more natural way of relaxing than, say, heavy duty garden swing.

Here on Earth, this fixed body position needs the help of the tilting mechanism found on these chairs to get the real benefits, which are many. Not only do they release stress on the joints, but also help decompress the spine and can lead to better circulation.

To really get all of the benefits outlined above, you need to spend more money on a powered zero gravity recliner, which are different products to the zero gravity chairs you see for sale online. This doesn’t mean that zero gravity chairs won’t do anything for you, because they will, they just don’t do it as effectively as the much more expensive powered zero gravity loungers that come with massage features and other extras.

What I like about zero gravity chairs is that you can sit quite upright in them if you wish, making it easier to sit around a fire pit, or enjoy some delicious BBQ food without dropping it all over yourself!

For those of you who still can’t get the image of how a zero gravity chair works in real life, here’s a little clip for you-

Comparing sun loungers and zero gravity chairs for comfort

So, which offers you more comfort- a sun lounger or a zero-gravity chair? I’m afraid the answer isn’t that simple. For sunbathing, especially for tanning your back, a sun lounger that can be laid down flat is ideal, and you can’t do that in a zero-gravity chair. A good zero gravity chair is better than a sun lounger for releasing pressure on the joints and getting a really nice feeling throughout the body.

Both of these products can offer you excellent relaxation in your garden, and at the end of the day it just comes down to personal preference. However, I will say that if you do decide to go for a zero-gravity chair, spend a bit more and buy a good quality one. Cheaper versions of this product can sometimes be a nightmare to assemble, and then not work as well as they should.

If you choose to buy a sun lounger, make sure you get some nice cushions to improve the experience and take into consideration the things we highlighted on our pros and cons on the different materials.

If neither of these products seems to be what you are looking for, perhaps you should check out garden day beds or bean bags instead? We have reviews of all kind s of garden furniture on this site so feel free to explore at your leisure.

And if you’re really searching for that zero gravity feeling, you can always have a go at this-

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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