Choosing A Recliner – An Expert Guide

Imagine spending a fortune on a chair only for it not to provide the warmth, comfort, and support you hoped for. It’s an experience I would never wish on anyone, and that is why I resolved to share everything I know about how to choose a recliner

You want to unwind not just in comfort but also style, and I will help you know how to find a recliner that also ticks your other boxes. 

This process may seem daunting at first, but if you keep at it you will have so much to smile about in the end. Let’s get into it.

How To Choose A Recliner – The Beginning 

How To Choose A Recliner - The Beginning

You will need a tape measure, pen, and notebook for this process. It would also be great if you are near the space where you wish to place the recliner. 

Here are the factors you should familiarize yourself with as you learn how to pick a recliner

  • Body size and space
  • Operation mechanism
  • Reclining positions
  • Recliner construction and design
  • Material
  • Interior decor
  • Budget/cost
  • Extras 

Let’s look at each of them briefly. 

Body Size & Space 

Recliners come in many sizes. The ideal one should fit not only your body but also the space you intend to place it in. The last thing you want to deal with is a chair that does not support your back, neck, or legs or is too tight and causes too much friction as you sit or get up. 

How do you avoid this? Grab a tape measure and take your body measurements. Record the distance between:

  • Your heel and the back of your knee
  • The back of your knee and your tailbone
  • Your left hip and right hip
  • Your elbow and palm

Even if you were to get the right size for your body, it would be a problem if you can’t get it past your front door or fit it in your living room. Use the same tape measure to get the dimensions (width, height, and depth) of the space where you plan to place the recliner.

Keep all these measurements for reference when you go shopping. Every recliner should have its dimensions listed in the description.

Here’s a quick size guide to help you:

  • Small recliner – Typically has a width of 39” or less and is best suited for small spaces and petite people.
  • Standard recliner – The most common size you will find in stores. Most are 40” wide on average and suit most people and places. 
  • Oversized/Big man recliners – Wider than your average recliner. The width could be as little as 43” or as wide as 60”. Some are made for bigger people and others for cuddling or to accommodate two people. 

      Operation Mechanism

      The operation mechanism is the way the recliner chair operates. The three main options to expect include:

      • Manual – operates manually
      • Power – controlled by a motor, sometimes with buttons on the chair and sometimes with a remote
      • Power lift recliner – a motor lifts the seat of the chair to help the user get in or out with ease

      Manual recliners tend to be cheaper but they require your effort to recline. They can typically be placed anywhere in your house. 

      Power recliners and power lift recliners cost more but are the easiest to operate. Most of them activate their functions at the press of a button; however, they need to be close to a power outlet. 

      Reclining Positions

      How To Choose A Recliner

      Every recliner tilts backward, but the level of adjustability varies from model to model.

      Two-position recliners are those that only recline to a single position or allow you to sit upright. Multiple-position recliners, on the other hand, feature more than two reclining positions in addition to being able to sit upright. 

      Lay flat models are a perfect example. Such recliners can be adjusted to a completely horizontal position. Such a position suits those who need a recliner for sleeping. 

      Zero gravity recliners also fall under the multiple-position class. They allow your torso and legs to form a 120-degree angle where your head and knees lie marginally above your heart. This position puts minimal pressure on your neck, back and legs and promotes better blood circulation. It’s recommended for people with back pain, lung issues, and joint swelling. 

      Recliner Construction & Design

      While their primary function is to recline when needed, some recliners go the extra mile. It’s important that you know what to look for in a recliner with more than one function to avoid ending up with the wrong choice

      • Rocker recliners – These models rock back and forth on arched tracks. 
      • Glider recliners – Gliders move back and forth on fixed horizontal tracks. 
      • Swivel recliners – These recliners can rotate 360 degrees. 
      • Wall huggers – Wall-huggers can be placed in tight spaces or closer to the wall where you cannot recline a normal chair. They move forward instead of backward, allowing the back to move into a sloping position. 

      Rocker recliners suit people who struggle to sleep and mothers or child caregivers nursing small babies. Gliders are a favorite for nurseries and pregnant women while swivel recliners are ideal if you don’t want your movements restricted as you recline. Wall-huggers would be a great option if you live in a small house or apartment. 


      Recliners are available in different materials as well. Some models use various forms of leather while others are made from various types of fabrics. 

      Common leather options include faux and genuine leather while fabrics range from velvet, polyurethane, and microfiber to cotton, polyester, and chenille. Each of these materials has its own strengths, weaknesses, and best uses. 

      Fabric recliners are comfortable, breathable, and affordable. Leather recliners, on the hand, feel and look great and last longer, but they cost more.

      Think about how you intend to use the recliner, the environment you will be placing it in, your budget, your interior decor, comfort, and durability before you settle on a material you believe to be ideal. 

      For example, if you have pets or kids at home, a suitable option would be leather (if you can afford it) or a fabric that’s resistant to stains (if you are on a budget). 

      Interior Decor 

      Recliners are available in a wide range of styles, designs, and colors. It’s therefore important that you think about your interior decor, preferred style, and tastes before placing an order.

      Some recliners have designs from the past that evoke bouts of nostalgia, while others boast chic and contemporary designs that reflect modern times. It’s up to you to decide which one best suits your home/office and preferences. 


      Recliners range in price from as low as $150 to over $3000. Some of the factors that determine their price tag include quality of material, design, features, operation mechanism (power or manual), and customization, just to name a few. 

      You will have to spend anywhere between $300 and $800 for a recliner that’s well-built, comfortable, supportive, and durable. Be ready to spend more if you want to experience things such as heat and massage functions and multiple reclining positions. 

      You should list the features that are most important to you and then pick a recliner that fits the bill. 

      Remember to check the warranty so you have an idea of what the post-purchase situation looks like. You don’t want to pay a premium for a product if you are not sure about its quality, but if there’s a warranty you will be at peace knowing you can return it for a refund or repair. 


      These are features and functions you don’t necessarily need but could make your recliner experience better. You could do without them, but if you have special needs such as back pains or mobility issues, having some of them will make your life easier and better. 

      Some of the extras you could find include:

      • Heat and massage functions
      • Cup holders
      • Storage compartments
      • Tray tables
      • Remote controls 
      • USB ports 

      Keep in mind, though, that recliners with these extras tend to be a lot pricier than those without. 

      That brings us to the end of our recliner buying guide. There may be other factors to consider, like whether the recliner is customizable, but the ones we have discussed here are the most important. Deciding what you need in these categories will help immensely in narrowing down your choices while you shop.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Do recliner chairs use a lot of electricity?

      Recliner power consumption depends on the model, frequency of use, and motor efficiency. On average, recliners use roughly 14W when no function is engaged. A single complete motion, like reclining, consumes around 58W. 

      You can keep the costs down by switching off the recliner when it’s not in use and servicing it as recommended by the manufacturer. While shopping, find out more about the motors as well, specifically whether they are energy efficient. 

      What is the average life of a recliner?

      Recliners can last longer or have a short lifespan depending on how well they are built, the frequency with which you use them, and the environment they are in. 

      For example, leather recliners and those built with tougher frames will definitely last longer than their fabric counterparts or those made with weaker frames. 

      That said, the average life of a quality recliner ranges from seven to fifteen years if it is well taken care of.

      Are recliners good for the elderly?

      Not all recliners are good for the elderly, but if you find an option that best caters to their needs then you could make their life better. The good news is the market is filled with quality elderly recliner chairs.

      A power lift recliner, for example, makes it easier for older people to sit and get out of a chair. If it can also recline to the zero gravity position, they will enjoy better back health too. 

      Choosing A Recliner (In Summary)

      Armed with all this information, you should have an easier time finding a recliner you will be proud of in years to come. No matter how overwhelming the options become, stick to this recliner buying guide and keep filtering through the available options until you have what you believe to be the most suitable recliner.

      Don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it; go ahead and vet the product on your own. If you cannot physically inspect or test the recliner, find an option with a reasonable warranty and guarantee. 

      Other things you should never forget to check include: 

      • Consumer reviews
      • Recommended weight capacity
      • Brand reputation 

      Best of luck as you set about finding the recliner of your dreams!