Recliners Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Recliner

Posted In Knowledge - 07/06/2018

Nothing helps melt away the stress of the day quite like sinking into a recliner. These living room staples offer a comfy place to read a book, watch a movie or catch a nap. Finding the right fit for your lifestyle and decor doesn’t have to be complicated. Peruse your choices with a few criteria in mind and you’ll come away with a recliner that you will enjoy for years to come.

Space Considerations

Measure carefully to determine how much space you have for a recliner. Remember that although the recliner will spend most of its time in the upright position you need to make sure that there is adequate space for it to push back and recline fully without bumping into walls, tables or other living room furnishings. Additionally, there should be space for others to move through the room even when the seat is reclined.

Upholstery and Padding Materials

One of the reasons recliners are so indulgent is their plush padding and upholstery. Because a recliner quickly becomes the favorite chair in any room, a durable covering is key.  Quality upholstery that is stain-resistant and easy to care for is ideal. Leather and Microfiber are popularly available, have a supple feel and will retain their beauty even with daily use.

Look for high-density foam cushions that will keep their shape over time rather than compressing, crumbling or reshuffling.

Types of Recliners

There are several options on the types of reclining mechanisms available in reclining chairs:

      • Pushback Recliners–reclined by holding the arms and pushing against the back, there is no lever, handle or power controls to activate the recline action. These tend to be smaller recliners; some do not have chaise footrest and come with an ottoman.  Often these have modern or Scandinavian styling.
      • Lever and Handle Operated Recliners – these seats utilize a mechanical lever, handle or pull loop to release the reclining mechanism.
      • Power Recliners– reclining at the touch of a button, these are the easiest to operate.  Some power recliners will have memory settings, unlimited positioning options and other power features like USB charging or even massage capabilities.
      • Lift Chair Recliners– these fully automated power chairs are ideal for people with mobility issues since they can assist in rising from the seated position. Many offer lay flat reclining and unlimited options on reclined positioning with the ease of button-touch control. These chairs can be more expensive than other recliners; many can qualify for medical device reimbursements.  If you are purchasing a chair for medical purposes, make sure it has a battery back-up for use when the power goes out.

      • 2 Position or 3 Position Recliners – recliners that offer only two positions, upright and reclined or that offer three positions, one upright and two different recline positions. Some three-position recliners will have upright, leg only and fully reclined (back and legs) positions.
      • Leg Only Recliners – the back does not move at all on these models, the footrest extends to support your legs.
      • Wall Hugger Recliners– intended for placement close to a wall or other furnishings, these seats extend forward when reclining so that they do not bump into whatever might be behind them.
      • Lay-Flat Recliners – designed to extend to a completely flat reclined position. These are ideal if you are looking for a cozy spot for afternoon naps.
      • Rocker Recliners– featuring rocking motion when upright, many rocker recliners will have multiple reclining positions with rocking functionality in some of those reclined positions as well. Many rocker recliners also have swivel capability.
      • Swivel Recliners – boasting a swivel base, these seats easily pivot to reposition their orientation. They are great for entertaining and for living rooms that serve multiple purposes. 

Recliner Styles

No matter your decor preferences there is a recliner for you. For some, it’s the classic look of a big comfy recliner. Others want the functionality of a recliner without the relaxed or overstuffed look.
      • Traditional, casual and comfy– wrapped in supple leather or textured microfiber fabric and featuring plush padding for an overstuffed feel.
      • Sleek and contemporary– features trim, tailored lines and angular edges.
      • Transitional– showcases styling details like roll arms, nailhead trim and stitching enhancements.
      • Classic club chair and high leg recliner– boasts a timeless look with the refined style of an accent chair, these are recliners in disguise.

Evaluate How It’s Built

As you would with any other piece of furniture, look at the quality of the materials and manufacturing of the recliner to ensure your investment will stand the test of time.

      • Make sure levers, handles and mechanisms are easy to use.
      • Opt for models with sturdy hardwood frame construction, quality fabrics and fabrication.
      • Look for high-density foam to ensure long-lasting, sag-free cushions.
      • Test for smooth reclining action and a quiet motor if it is electric powered.

Take If For A Test Drive

Be sure to sit on the recliner and relax for an extended period of time in both the upright and extended position(s). This will help ensure that the recliner you choose will support you and be a comfortable place to relax. Go through this mental checklist while testing in all positions of the chair: are the arms a comfortable height and comfortably padded, is your back supported, is the footrest properly situated for your height, does the headrest support your head and neck and is the reclining mechanism easy to operate?

After you’ve evaluated the size, build and features of the recliner of your choice, sit back and enjoy the ultimate spot to unwind.

Looking for more ideas about recliners?  Check out our related article:  Difference Between a Lounge and Recliner.

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