Reclining Sofas - Different Types and How to Choose the Best For You
Reclining sofas are sofas with a backrest that can be tilted back to a reclined position. It’s comfortable to sit and relax to watch television or read a book in an inclined position instead of sitting upright.
Some have footrests that either automatically tilts up or is manually lowered. Other recliners have additional functions like cup holders, vibrating massage and a heated pad. With so many reclining sofas flooding the market, this buying guide proves helpful at finding the right one for you.
Popular types of recliners
Armchairs basically have the same function, but can be categorized based on its reclining mechanism into:
1. Two-position recliners
This is the most basic model that gives two positions including upright and fully reclined. They usually have a footrest which is tilted upward using a lever mechanism. The backrest tilts downwards to a fully-reclined position when the footrest goes up. These recliners are limited in function and take up lots of space when the footrest and backrest are fully extended.
2. Rocker recliners
These recliners offer several reclining angles in addition to two different positions. A few moves like a rocking chair and others have a footrest with a tilting mechanism. As these recliners don’t need much space, they can be placed close to a wall.
3. Push-back recliners
These are simple recliners without a footrest or lever or button for the reclining mechanism. Just push the backrest backward while sitting on the chair and it rocks. It’s also called a flex-back recliner where the backrest is its only moving part. Many people like this feature as they consider recliners with minimal moving parts to be more durable.
4. Riser recliners
The riser recliner is the most sophisticated armchair with a motorized reclining mechanism that’s electrically powered and connected to an AC power outlet. It may have a single motor connecting and operating the footrest and backrest or a dual motor version where the parts move independently of each other.
Getting out of the chair is so much easier because the entire chair tilts upwards. As this sofa runs on an electric motor, it may come with additional features like heated pads and mobile phone charger. However, these recliners need lots of space and are rather expensive because of its additional features.
Factors to consider for the best recliner
Measure the spot you plan to place the sofa in. Make sure you measure with the recliner when fully reclined with an extended footrest. Your search is considerably narrowed once you get your measurements.
Color is always important, so look for a reclining sofa that complements the room. It should blend with the room and not look too striking or contrast to the interiors. While black is a popular choice, it’s not always the best. Don’t forget to consider your flooring color too to find the right color.
This is an important factor because the sofa should be not only comfortable but also durable, aesthetically beautiful and easy to maintain. Common upholstery options to consider are polyester, wool, leather, acrylic and cotton with their individual pros and cons.
Leather, for example, is fire-resistant but needs more care and maintenance and is difficult to choose unless you are familiar with leather. While cotton is maintenance-free, it’s flammable and wool is durable but should be maintained well to look good. Acrylic is like wool in texture and comfort but is a flammable material. Polyester is probably the best of the lot, because it’s durable and stain-resistant but also has an artificial texture.
There is no fixed function to look out for as it depends on the user. For example, avoid a rocker armchair if you have pets as your pet may take a nap under it, which can be dangerous. You may prefer an electric-powered armchair if it’s for someone elderly as it’s easy for them to set it to the desired position by pushing buttons instead of pulling levers.
A reclining sofa should be built from quality material. It has to bear the occupant’s entire weight even while the footrest is extended and in a reclined position. While the upholstery has an important role, it’s generally the framework that has to support all your weight.
A good reclining sofa is one made from strong wood like oak or pine, and metals like steel and preferably not hard-plastic as it’s not as strong as it looks. You can guess the durability of the sofa based on its warranty as the longer it is, the more durable is the armchair.
These are the additional features in the armchair that provide for improved comfort and ease of use. While basic reclining sofas have a lever to adjust the position, others can be adjusted using electric power. Reaching a fully reclined position is so much easier on these sofas, with the press of a button. However, these chairs are also rather expensive.
As you will be spending lots of time relaxing in an armchair, features like a cup holder, small compartment in the armrest, heated pad and message options and a built-in power station that’s helpful for your portable device are always welcome. Of course, the more features the sofa has, the higher it’s price will be.
While reclining sofas cost anywhere from $250 to $5,000, it’s not always that the most expensive is the best. In fact, the rate depends on various factors like special features, upholstery material, mechanism, and construction frame.
And though you may like the sofa’s design or appearance, remember that comfort is more important than looks. However, if you can’t afford to buy an attractive, comfortable and durable reclining sofa, look for something that’s comfortable and durable, but not necessarily aesthetic.
Reading through consumers reviews is a must if you are buying from an online store. This is because you can’t physically check the chair. Customer reviews give you an idea of the product’s functionality and even mentions if there are any drawbacks. There are also some reviewers who even upload videos to give you a better idea of the sofa’s functionality.
A long warranty is always a better feature not because you can use it for manufacturing defects but because it improves your confidence in buying it. While lifetime warranty is the best, it’s better to buy a reclining sofa with an overall warranty instead of warranty for individual parts like a lifetime warranty on the reclining mechanism with 3 or fewer years’ warranty for upholstery.