The Only Recliner Buying Guide You Ever Need To Read

The perfect recliner can make a home feel truly comfy, while also giving a room the perfect accent that celebrates your decorative theme. From a throne for a man cave or she-shed to the living room comfy chair that all the kids want to climb on, the perfect recliner is out there, and with these tips, you will have the best strategy to pick the recliner best for your needs.

How do you want your Recliner to Recline?

Looking for the standard fare?

  • Three Position Recliner vs. Two Position Recliner

These are the most common recliners that you can purchase. The 2 Position recliner will transition from a regular upright chair with a vertical back to a fully reclined position where the back of the chair is close to horizontal, while the footrest will lift and extend to support your legs. In this variation, there is also the three-position recliner. The three-position recliner provides both the fully upright (regular chair) position, the fully reclined (legs up, back down) position, but also adds the option that only your legs will be lifted, while the back stays vertical.

Just want to put your feet up?

  • Leg Only Recliners

Sometimes you just want to put your feet up. These recliners allow a footrest to extend from the bottom of the chair; however, the back remains in an upright position. These chairs work best for those that are situating the chair against the wall, or who don’t want to pay extra for the mechanisms required for the leaned back position.

White Faux Leather Manual Recliner
Navy White Linen Manual Recliner
Light Gray Polyester Manual Recliner
Dark Blue Chenille Manual Recliner
Charcoal Gray Polyester Manual Wall Hugger Recliner
Chocolate Manufactured Wood Power Recliner

Want to go full nap time?

  • Flat Recliner

Similar to the two-position recliners, the lay-flat recliner allows an individual to raise the footrest on the chair to a horizontal position, but goes a step farther and sends the back of the chair to a fully horizontal position as well. The flat recliner is likely best for the napper in the house, as the fully flat position easily resembles the flat cushioned nature of a day bed or mattress.

Smoke Gray Faux Leather Manual Recliner
Black Berry Faux Leather Manual Recliner
Polyester Light Brown Power Lift Assist Recliner
Gray Faux Leather Manual Rocker Recliner
Caramel Faux Leather Manual Recliner
Deep Ruby Red Polyester Manual Recliner

Want the added relaxation of being rocked to sleep?

  • Rocker Recliner

In your consideration of the reclining mechanism of your chair, you may also want to consider if the recliner has a rocking mechanic. A rocker recliner, not only reclines but also allows the user to rock back and forth like they’re in a plush rocking chair. Most of the recliners will only rock in the upright position, which is usually a purposeful design choice that prevents the user from accidentally tumbling out of the chair when their feet are in the air and there is no way to stabilize before meeting the floor; however, for those with exceptional coordination, there are some rare recliners that offer rocking while reclining.

Polyester Platinum Gray Velour Manual Rocker Recliner
Navy Blue Polyester Blend Manual Rocker Recliner
Indigo Solid Manufactured Wood Rocker Reclining Glider
Chocolate Chenille Manual Rocker Recliner
Polyester Blend Manual Rocker Glider Swivel Recliner
Black Faux Leather Manual Recline Rocker Recliner

Do you need a chair that can take on two rooms at once?

  • Swivel Recliners

Another mechanism that may be found in a recliner, is a swivel base. The swivel base allows the user to shift or spin the chair, similar to the way a person can spin or pivot in an office chair. This mechanism is best suited for those placing their recliner in a room that adjoins with another, like a living room that adjoins with an office. With the swivel base, you can easily redirect the chair to face another room, in cases where your speaking with a friend or family member, and you would prefer to face them instead of the television or room’s focal point.

Beige Chenille Manual Swivel Glider Recliner
Gray Polyester Blend Manual Rocker Glider Swivel Recliner
Faux Leather Swivel Home Theater Individual Seating
Black Faux Leather Manual Swivel Recliner With Ottoman
Black Genuine Leather Manual Swivel Recliner
Navy Solid Wood Swivel Reclining Glider

What type of Recliner will fit best in your room?

When purchasing a recliner, the first step is to measure your home and identify the length and width available for your new recliner purchase. Very important in this measuring process is making sure to also measure the acceptable length for the reclined position, as the recliner’s footprint may double in size it’s fully extended.

Allow at least 4 inches of space between a standard recliner and the wall behind it. Those concerned about how far back a tall recliner will extend may opt for a Wall Recliner, aka Wall-Hugger. Wall recliners have a special mechanism that allows the recliner to lean back by extending the seat forward instead of the back of the chair downwards.

Most recliners will be categorized by their width. The standard sizes are as follows:

  • Compact Recliners: These small recliners are usually 33 inches wide or less.
  • Standard Recliners: This is the average recliner size, and usually measure between 33-45 inches wide.
  • Big and Tall Recliners: The largest recliners are often designated as either Big and Tall or Oversized. These recliners will be over 45 inches wide.

Now that it physically fits in the room, what recliner fits your style?

Looking for a style that has been a crowd-pleaser for generations?

  • Traditional Recliner

A traditional recliner will have rounded wide arms and a large plush footrest. The traditional recliner is usually between 35 to 45 inches wide, with plenty of padding in an oversized backrest and seat. These recliners will also have decorative accents that include a tufted headrest and nailhead trim.

Charcoal Polyester Blend Traditional Manual Recliner
Dark Teal Linen Traditional Power Recliner
Faux Leather Traditional Reclining Heated Massage Chair
Shell Solid Manufactured Wood Traditional Swivel Glider
Beige Polyester Traditional Manual Rocker Recliner
Navy Blue Polyester Traditional Manual Recliner

Want to take a trendy step that can even look at home in an office?

  • Modern Recliner

A modern recliner will look like a stylized combination between a traditional recliner and an office chair. The backrest and seat will have generous padding, but there will be no footrest, and will instead have an ottoman that matches the chair’s style. As for the materials, a modern recliner usually sports a leather upholstery with a pedestal base made of metal or wood.

Creme Leather Modern Manual Swivel Recliner With Ottoman
Brown Vintage Modern Manual Swivel Recliner With Ottoman
Fabric Modern Manual Swivel Recliner With Ottoman
Black Leather Manual Glider Recliner With Ottoman
Modern Reclining Heated Massage Chair With Ottoman
Black Modern Manual Swivel Recliner With Ottoman

Hunting for an accent piece that can still be functional and comfy?

  • Transitional Recliner

A transitional recliner looks like an offshoot of a traditional recliner and resembles an accent chair, but with reclining capabilities. A transitional recliner will have a cloth upholstery with distinct fabric patterns designed to stand out in a room.

Gray Polyester Transitional Manual Recliner
Polyester Blend Transitional Manual Recliner
Blue Polyester Transitional Manual Recliner
Blue Multi Kite Print Transitional Manual Recliner
Beige Black Polyester Transitional Power Recliner
Muted Green Polyester Transitional Manual Recliner

What type of features and controls does the recliner of your dreams provide?

Want to fight the winter blues, and maybe your aching back?

  • Heat

Heat can be a rare but unique feature to modern recliners. While some will find enjoyment just from the relief of unfairly cold days in the winter months, heat can also provide some medicinal and efficiency benefits. For those suffering from back pain, you no longer need to hunt down your trusty heating pad, but instead can utilize heat from your recliner to soothe your aching back and take a load off your feet.

Have a phone that won’t stay charged, or maybe an avid gamer in the house?

  • USB Ports

Speaking of efficiency, current, top of the line recliners, can also boast USB ports. As a power recliner will likely appropriate at least one electrical socket, if that socket was previously occupied by a phone charger, you won't miss charging time if the recliner has its own ports to assist with charging. These onboard USB ports are perfect for charging a phone or tablet, and if you have a gamer in the family, having a USB port ready to go for charging video game controllers can make a recliner feel like an incredibly comfortable gaming chair.

Want your recliner to an active roll in your maximum relaxation?

  • Massage

Massage is another feature available in recliners that many people can't live without. The feel of reclining with your feet up, as the recliner hums away and massages your back and neck can be seriously soothing. The feature may come with some extra cost, but it can add an extra relaxation element to an already soft and comfy chair.

What can you do to ensure durability when you purchase a recliner?

Quality Materials – As the center of your living room, and maybe the comfiest seat in the house, any home’s recliner will see a lot of mileage, so it’s important to consider durability. The best way to achieve durability is from quality materials like a strong frame, solid bases, and high-density cloths and leathers.

Fabrics – As for the upholstery of the recliner, the best leathers are called bonded leather or top-grained leather. If you choose a cloth or microfiber recliner, always look for cloth or microfiber with clear and non-heathered coloring. Heathered or muddled colors in cloth is a sign of underlying colors that will quickly wear through over time.

Size – The size of the recliner can also be important for durability. In most cases, the larger the chair and wider the seat,the longer the recliner will last. It may seem inconsequential, but if the recliner is larger, there will be more fabric to take the beating, and in the construction of larger chairs, there are fewer composite materials in the recliner’s frame with denser parts and materials.

Frame – The recliner’s frame is also critical to the durability and longevity of your recliner. The first place to look when evaluating the frame is also the smallest piece of the frame: the screws. A strong frame will be held together with metal screws at each connection; however, less premium frames often try to get away with plastic screws that a significantly cheaper than metal, but also much weaker.

Woods – Frame materials are usually wood, but for better or worse, there are several variations for the meaning of “wood.” The best type of wood will be called real wood or name the actual tree the wood came from like cedar or birch. Lower quality wood will be called plywood or multi-wood, which are actually composites of multiple kinds of wood pressed together under intense pressure. These pressed are more affordable, but lack durability and can take far less stress.

What materials will be the most comfortable?

Padding – When evaluating the comfort of a recliner, actually taking the recliner for a test sit is always best; however, if you are making a purchase online there are a few things you can use to make the best choice. As for the recliner’s padding, the best padding is a high-density foam that is plush and covers the seat as well as both armrests.

Gaps – When reviewing photographs of recliners online, reviewing photos of the recliner’s gaps is essential for knowing if the recliner will be comfortable. In many recliners, when you activate the reclining function, the footrest rises but can have a gap from the beginning of the footrest to the seat. The larger the gap the less comfortable the recliner. Additionally, the larger the gap the more hazardous the chair can be for children and pets.

Foam Density – The best will actually have a density number. A recliner that boasts a foam density of 1.7 or better is best. Note that, just like the aug in an electrical cord or the best scores in golf, the lower the number the better. The scale for foam density ranges from 0.5 to 2.5; so, the closer you get to 2.5 the better the quality of foam cushioning and more comfort.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.