Your Complete Guide To The Recliner Types You Can Buy Today 

In a market filled with all the types of recliners you could think of, it would make choosing one a lot easier if you knew what to expect from each. 

Imagine getting yourself a sleek modern recliner only to realize it doesn’t complement your interior decor at all. What a shame! Maybe a little research about modern vs traditional recliners would have helped you to make a better choice.

There’s no better feeling than knowing you made a good purchase. Don’t be like the many consumers who find themselves stuck with recliners they loathe. By the time you are done reading this, you will know the exact recliner you want to kick back in to unwind or come back to after a long day. 

Types Of Recliner Chairs 

To make this even simpler for you, I have classified the recliner types based on operation mechanism, era, reclining position, size, materials used, control mechanism, construction, and design. Without any further ado, let’s get into it.

Operation Mechanism

The type of operation mechanism refers to how recliners work on the inside. Some models are purely operated manually, while others need to be plugged into a power outlet to function. The question of which one is right for you boils down to budget and preference. 

1. Power Recliner

Types Of Recliner Chairs 

Power recliners rely on electric motors to recline or adjust into other positions. You only need to press a button on a remote or the chair itself to activate the various functions. 

Features vary from model to model. Some have heat and massage functions, USB ports, cup holders, and so on. No matter the model, expect smoother transitions and a seamless experience but keep in mind that these chairs are a bit expensive to maintain and need a power outlet to function. 

2. Power Lift Recliner

This is a variation of the power recliner designed to help the user get into or out of a chair with ease. It’s made for those with limited mobility or who generally need help sitting or getting up. The Pinnacle Platinum Power Lift Recliner is a perfect example. 

3. Manual Recliner 

Manual recliners use spring-based technology to operate the recline and incline functions. That’s why you have to either push back, pull a handle, or lift a lever.

Only choose this type if you have the ability to operate one. The best thing about them is they are cheaper to maintain and can be placed anywhere. 

Era/Period Of Manufacturing

The traditional vs modern recliner debate should be of concern to you if you care a lot about recliner chair styles and have specific preferences such as heat and massage features. 

1. Traditional Recliner

Most traditional recliners are manual, wider, heavier, and often made of leather. Expect a classic look as well, particularly those that date to centuries ago. There are no extras. It’s a bare-bones chair designed to recline and provide the comfort you desire. 

2. Modern Recliner

Modern Recliner

Modern recliners are defined by their contemporary designs and extras that add to their comfort. Examples include USB ports, cup holders, and heat and vibration heatings, just to name a few. 

Massage recliners fall into this category. Not only do they vibrate and knead your aching parts but they also supply much-needed heat to relieve your stress and pain. 

Some models are much lighter than others and small enough to fit in the tightest of spaces. 

Reclining Position

While all recliners can move into a laid-back (reclining) position, the level to which each can adjust varies. You might want to check out the following types of recliner chairs just to be sure of what to expect. 

1. Two-Position Recliners 

The definition is in the name. Most recliners in the market fall into this category; they can only move into two positions: reclined or upright. If you want a wider range of motion, check into the options below.

2. Lay Flat Position

These chairs recline all the way to a flat position. There’s no better option than this for those who need a sleeping chair. 

3. Zero Gravity Recliners 

These recliners are designed to distribute your weight in a way that allows for better blood circulation and less pressure on your legs, back, and neck. Anyone could use it, but it’s of most help to those with back pain, swelling joints, and lung complications. 


Size has to do with both the recliner’s seating area and the amount of physical space it occupies.

Measure your body, especially if you are buying a chair online. This will help you get the right fit. Take the dimensions of the area you wish to place the recliner in as well.

Here are the options available to you based on recliner chair sizes

1. Small 

Some people call them space-saving recliners. These chairs typically measure 39 inches or less in width and are made for smaller-sized people and tight spaces.

2. Standard

Standard recliners have a width of 40 inches, on average. They are the most common options in furniture stores. 

3. Oversized / Big & Tall Recliners

Just as the name says, these are massive recliners with a bigger width, height, and depth than standard recliners. Some are as wide as 60 inches. Even though they are made for bigger people, two people can use the largest of these as cuddler recliners.

Materials Used

Recliners are made from different materials, each with its own pros and cons. Take into consideration your intended use, interior decor, budget, and preferences, before settling on a material.

Under this category, there are two recliner types:

1. Fabric

Common fabrics include velvet, polyester, cotton, and polyurethane. Such recliners are not only relatively cheap but also breathable and extremely comfortable. 

2. Leather

Leather comes in various forms too. There’s genuine leather and PU leather. Leather recliners may be more expensive than fabric, but they feel great and are very smooth. They are more durable and easier to clean; however, leather is susceptible to scratches so if you have pets and kids, fabrics would serve you better. 

Control Mechanism

Not all manual recliners are controlled the same way. Some require more physical effort to recline, while others only require you to pull a handle. Expect the following types of recliner chairs under this category.

1. Lever Handle 

Most classic manual recliners use either a plastic or wooden handle. When pulled, the reclining mechanism swings into action, causing the back to incline or lie flat and the footrest to be lifted. 

2. Pull Handle

With these recliners, you have to pull a handle conveniently placed on the side to trigger the recline function. Except for the fact that they are much easier to operate than lever-handle recliners, there isn’t much that distinguishes the two.

3. Push Back

Push-back recliners have no lever or handle. You have to lean back and exert some pressure on the back of the chair to activate the reclining mechanism. You will, of course, need some energy and strength for this.

It’s easy to confuse a push-back recliner for a non-reclining chair. Most of them barely look like recliners, and they often come in sleek styles and trendy designs that make them a good fit for freshening up your space.

Construction & Design

Recliners are constructed differently to suit specific purposes and preferences. You will come across different designs and constructions, each delivering a unique experience. Your only goal is to find recliner chair styles that suit your needs and preferences.

1. Rocker Recliner

Other than reclining, these chairs are set on frames that allow them to rock back and forth in an arched path. Rocker recliners are most suitable for nursing mothers and those who have trouble sleeping. 

2. Glider Recliner

Just like rockers, gliders move back and forth but in a horizontal motion. They are common in nurseries, but you could also have them in your living room. Just make sure you have enough space for the full range of motion. 

3. Swivel Recliner

A rounded base enables these recliners to spin instead of just rocking or gliding back and forth. Some modes can make a complete 360-degree spin. It’s the kind of chair you would want if you do not want to be limited in your movements as you go about your business or relaxation. 

4. Wall Huggers

These are recliners you can put as close to the wall as possible. A track built into the base allows them to slide forward and raise the footrest when you want to recline. If you live in a small apartment or need to fit a recliner in tight spaces, wall huggers would be a great choice. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which recliners last the longest?

All recliner types last between seven and fifteen years on average; however, those made from leather and a hardwood or metal frame tend to last the longest, especially if they are taken good care of. 

In terms of operation mechanism, power recliners tend to last longer because their inner components don’t wear down as fast as those of a manual recliner. 

Do power recliners fail often?

A quality power recliner will serve you for years without disappointment, but only if you take care of it as recommended by the manufacturer. 

That doesn’t mean it won’t fail at some point, though. The motor(s) could burn out. A component of its electrical system could stop functioning. The good news? Some manufacturers have all these instances covered in the warranty. 

Once fixed, these chairs should serve you for another long period of time.

How much should you spend on a recliner?

The simple answer would be to spend as much as you can easily afford. With as little as $150, you will be able to find a decent recliner. This recliner chair for the living room is a good example; It may not be electric-powered or loaded with features, but it does the job. 

If you can afford the pricier ones, set aside any amount between $300 and $3000.List down your needs and preferences and then go shop for a model that fits the bill.

Keep in mind that leather recliners and those loaded with extras such as heat and massage functions tend to be more expensive. 

Final Word About The Different Types Of Recliners

As the recliner industry evolves more recliner varieties might emerge, but for now, those I have mentioned are the common types of recliner chairs you will find in the market. 

It’s possible to find a recliner that falls into more than one category. An example is a modern oversized recliner or rocking recliner with zero gravity function. Your only job is to filter through the options until you find what suits you best. 

As you do all that, keep the following in mind:

  • Budget – choose a recliner you can afford
  • Comfort – choose a recliner you can sit in and get out of comfortably
  • Appearance – choose a recliner you enjoy the look of and that fits your decor
  • Durability – choose a recliner made of materials that will last
  • Maintenance – choose a recliner with relatively simple care requirements

Armed with this information, you will easily be able to choose the recliner of your dreams.