What to Look For When Buying a Recliner

Cost aside, buying a recliner can be a big commitment. Considering how durable they are, you’ll likely have this recliner for the next several years. When thinking about colors, styles, materials, and extras, there is a lot to consider. Are you getting ready to buy a recliner and need some help?

In this article, I’ll break down the most important things to consider. I’ve collated the best advice from my experience, as well as talking to furniture owners around the world. Work your way through this article to find out exactly what you’ll need to consider, as well as some great tips. Let’s get into it.

What to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Recliner

I’ve broken down everything you need to consider into three categories. These sections will cover Space, Purpose, and Budget. In each of these, I’ll work through things to ask yourself, as well as individual tips for each category.

Space

living room with recliner

The first step you’ll need to take when buying a recliner is to measure your home space. This is vital as you may buy a recliner that is all too big to fit in your home. You’ll need to measure your walls to know the measurements you can work with.

Depending on the style you want, you will need to consider if you want the recliner to take up a whole wall. If so, you just need to measure the wall from one side to the other. If you only want it to take up a portion, make sure to work out how much that is in actual measurements.

A pro tip after measuring is to take photos of your space. These will provide an invaluable resource if you decide to go into a store. The measurements combined with photos will give store assistants a sense of what you’re in need of.

Another thing to note before you commit to any recliner is what floor material you have at home. Depending on if you have a wood or tiled surface, you will be able to buy different footed recliners. If you have a metal footed recliner, but have a floor surface that you can damage (like wood), you need to buy some felt pads.

recliner in living room on wood floor

Your own height will come into play when buying a recliner. If you are 5ft4, the best recliner for you will be of the petit size in store. If you are 5ft5-5ft9, the best will back size will be small. If you are between 5ft10-6ft2, the best size will be tall. Finally, extra tall size is for anyone who measures over 6ft3.

When buying a recliner, you also need to think long and hard about the styles that you want. Nowadays, there are as many styles as you can imagine. If you have something specific in mind, you can also request custom upholstery prints. Make sure to have a color scheme picked out before you go into the store. Match with wall colors already in your home space.

Finally, before heading to the store you need to consider the flow of your room. One popular tip is to visualise your home with the recliner in it. If the recliner blocks walking pathways, this can seriously change the flow of your house. Make sure you’re happy to commit to a new large piece of furniture in your home.

Once you’ve thought about all of these things, you can then move on to the next step.

Purpose

recliner in living room

Recliners come in lots of different shapes and sizes for a reason – their purpose. If you live alone, the recliner you’re going to want will look a lot different to that of a large family. Make sure you consider what the purpose of your recliner is.

Do you want a larger space to sit the whole family, or do you want a relaxing reading chair for yourself? Recliners are a range of specific sizes. Normally, the rule is that one ‘seat unit’ matches with one person. Calculate how many people you want to sit on your recliner and you’ll have your unit size.

A side note is to consider if you have pets or not. This is only going to matter if you do. A pet sheds hair which can get trapped in the fibers of your recliner. If this happens with your pet, then you need to only consider fabrics which tend to not stick with furs. Leather is fantastic for this, while materials like wool and velvet are terrible.

Budget

person budgeting for a recliner

Finally, you’re going to have to consider what sort of budget you’re working with. Although recliners can start around $300-400, they can cost upwards of $2500. This is a large range to play with, and the amount you’re willing to spend will change the recliner you get.

Make sure you are realistic with how much you’re willing to spend on your recliner. If you want the cheapest recliner out there, stores like Costco will be a godsend. However, if you want a branded recliner, you will likely have to spend more.

When you’re buying a recliner, you will need to collect or get a company to deliver. You can break recliners down into parts, meaning you can pick them up yourself. However, most of the time you will have to have a delivery. These can cost anywhere from $50 to $150. This is an extra cost you’ll need to apply on top of your budget.

A pro tip one Reddit user has suggested is to hire a van yourself. These can go for as little as $50 if you only get them for a short amount of time. This means you can go to the store and pick up your recliner instead of paying someone else to do it.

What Features to Look For in a Recliner

Electric vs Manual Recliners

Electric recliner and manual recliner being compared

One of the most important considerations to make is whether you want electric or manual. Manual recliners are cheaper than their electric counterparts. However, electric recliners provide you with a greater range of motion.

As you use the electric hand control, the recliner steadily moves back. This provides an opportunity to stop at any point depending on your desires. This same mobility is not achieved with a manual recliner. A manual recliner relies on a lever that you push yourself. These most commonly are either retracted or not retracted, with no middle point.

A tip that is often not discussed when deciding is if you are strong enough to use manual. If you are not strong enough to lift your weight with a little help from the mechanism, it won’t work with you. You can go into the store and test this out with a recliner similar to the one you want.

If you can lift yourself, then the manual is still an option. If not, you’ll have to go for an electric recliner. Just a note, electric recliners will be a few $100 more expensive.

Massagers and Heating

Massage and heating recliner benefits

If you want to upgrade your recliner with these features, there will likely be an additional cost. Massagers provide a relaxing function and can really take a recliner to the next level. Similarly, heating will keep you warm on a cool night and create that cosy feeling.

While both these features are ‘worth it’, be sure to think about yourself and see if they are worth it for you. For both of these features, it will likely cost you around $700 extra.  Contact your local store for more details on their specific costs.

Just a small tip, if you have to pick between these upgrades, go for the massager. This feature can really transform your recliner experience. You can achieve a similar effect as heating with a few blankets. Although it’s not exactly the same thing, when it comes to saving a few hundred dollars, it is a great compromise.

Lift Chairs

Lift Chair Benefits

A lift chair will push you off the seat into a standing position. These can be incredibly useful for a wide variety of people. If you have trouble getting to your feet, I highly recommend you invest in a lift chair function.

Lift chairs and lift chair upgrades will start at around $1500. If you don’t want to spend that amount of money, you can always look at extending footrests. These are longer-form footrests that extend towards the ground. Their added length provides a ramp that you can move down. This helps you get to your feet, much like the lift chair.

These extended footrests also provide a nice platform to stick your feet out. These are especially useful for those of you who are very tall.

Although extended footrests can be a useful addition, they are not as effective as a lift chair. If you have difficulty getting up, I would still recommend the lift chair. If you have the money to spare, the lift chair can be a fantastic addition.

USB Charger and Cup Holders

These upgrades are likely the cheapest you can get. That is due to the fact that, while useful, they are mostly superfluous. If you have a small table, you won’t need a cupholder. Similarly, you can get a several meter long phone charger cable for only a few dollars.

Although these upgrades are great if you have them, I wouldn’t stress if your recliner doesn’t feature them. You can achieve the same effect through other means. 

What construction materials to look for in a recliner

Frame Materials

When considering frame materials, most commonly recliners are wood or metal. These both have alternative benefits. A wooden frame is often a little bit more comfortable, while metal is more durable.

Upholstery Material

There is a huge range of materials you can choose from when constructing a recliner. Although leather is among the most popular, it may not be the best for you. When considering a material, think about comfort, durability, and ease of cleaning.

What Padding Materials Should You Look for in a Recliner?

Recliner padding material to be used

The firmness of padding is knowing through the term ‘Idention Load Deflection’. Different products need a different rating of this measurement. The table below outlines some of the ideal ILD measurements for types of cushions.

Specifically for recliners, you’re going to be wanting a lower ILD, but with a higher thickness. Look for between 4 and 5 inches thick. Pair this with an ILD measurement of between 25-35. The combination of these two measurements will provide you with ultimate comfort.

These specifications should be on the information card of a recliner. If not, be sure to ask an assistant of the store for more information.

Conclusion

Before you buy a recliner, you need to ask yourself exactly what you’re searching for. Things like space, budget, and style all need to be a factor in your thought process. Work through this list to gain a better understanding of questions to ask. You will have also learned some top tips along the way!

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