What to Consider When Buying a Recliner Sofa

Updated on March 14, 2018
The two seater sofa.
The two seater sofa. | Source

We Went Shopping for a Recliner

Our first trips to sofa stores proved to be disappointing. We wanted to buy leather sofas, but it seemed that the styles we preferred were only available as recliners. We didn't set out to buy these, and this factor added to the price.

We found another store with three comfortable sofas. Again, only manual or electric recliners were available. I'm going to share our sofa buying experience and a few tips to consider if you're thinking of getting a reclining sofa.

1. Be Prepared to Shop Around

We went to several different stores. Here are a few things that bothered me about the idea of electric recliners.

  • The electric versions were smooth and effortless, and if I'm being honest, a little reminiscent of a dentist's chair.
  • The price was considerably higher than a regular sofa.
  • The idea of having to keep your sofa plugged into electricity bothered me.
  • We realized that the sofas would have to sit away from the walls to fully recline. This didn't fit well with the smaller room we were furnishing.

However, it did seem nice to be able to set the footrest at any angle you wanted with the electric recliners. Some of the manual recliners popped right up instead of staying halfway out.

2. Persistence Pays Off

The search continued. Again, results showed that finding leather sofas that weren't in recliner form was difficult. Then... bingo! We found 2 showroom leather sofas, a 2 and 3 seater, at a bargain price. They were manual recliners.

3. Test and Invest

Give the seating a thorough trial. This is not the time to sit neatly as if you're at an interview. Slouch, slump, and lay down if that's how you use your furniture at home. The salesman isn't going to object if there's a chance of a deal.

The sofas we found passed the comfort test. Because they were roughly half the price the other sofas, including the uncomfortable non-reclining pieces, we took the plunge and bought them. It's worth considering all of your options when buying a sofa. You never know where a bargain may appear.

Recliners Versus Non-Recliners

more expensive
more material options
extra seating positions
more style choices
requires more space
can use a table in front
generally heavier
generally lighter
extra comfort
no moving parts to maintain

It's a Learning Curve

The model we chose is more of a leg rest-out type than a lean back, which suits our space better. It meant leaving the two-seater slightly away from a side wall so we could reach the handle. It also means you can't pop a little table just in front of the sofa to hold a drink. When the leg rest is extended, the table would get knocked over.

It could potentially be because it was an ex-demo model, but the two-seater has a slight fault. You think the leg rest clicked back into place, but then it springs out again, keen to keep you on the seat. This problem seems to be settling down, the sofa is becoming house trained.

An update on the model's fault: The fault may have been partly ours because we didn't push the rest back fully. The action seems different on each sofa, so learn how to use yours correctly.

Handle with care - Mind that Manicure!
Handle with care - Mind that Manicure! | Source

Tips to Using a Manual Recliner

  • You need to pull the lever carefully if you have long fingernails. If you hold it wrong, you could break your nails. That may sound a girly thing to say, but it's painful when it happens.
  • Pushing the leg rest down is quite strenuous on my legs and abdomen. We're getting the knack now and shuffle towards the front of the seat to have more leverage. I'm fairly short, so it's particularly hard for me. An elderly person may well find the process difficult.
  • The back of the sofa moves a little when the leg rest is out, but not enough to tip you backward. It's very comfortable, and you can have your legs at the angle of choice. When using a footstool, your legs tend to be straight out, which can result in painful knees if you sit for an extended amount of time.

Measure carefully. Ensure there's room for your furniture.
Measure carefully. Ensure there's room for your furniture. | Source

Do I regret our purchase?


  • The seats are essentially separate from each other. If the person next to you moves about, it doesn't affect your seat—there's no jiggle factor.


  • There's an extra gap for the TV remote to slip down between the seats. A bookmark has disappeared completely.
  • Watch out for kitty investigating the gap under the sofa when the leg rest is extended.
  • My laptop cable found its way under the leg rest and was in danger of being trapped in the mechanism. I'm not ready for the electric chair.
  • These sofas are much heavier than our old ones. The metalwork and recliner action add weight. If you like to rearrange furniture, it will be harder work to move the items.

The answer is this: No, we don't regret the purchase.

We didn't set out to buy reclining sofas. If that was the case, I think doing more research would have been appropriate.This may sound like I'm highlighting more negatives than positives. They are just points we hadn't considered before purchasing a chair. We don't have any regrets. The sofas we bought are extremely comfortable and are a welcome addition to our house.

Questions & Answers


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      • innerspin profile image

        Kim Kennedy 4 years ago from uk

        Tylah, I would start by speaking to the store it came from. They should be able to put you in touch with the manufacturer, or know someone who does repairs.

        If you go on YouTube and type in " fix recliner sofa" it comes up with a couple of videos. You may be able to have a go yourself. Best of luck!

      • profile image

        Tylah 4 years ago

        How do you fix a sofa that has a broken leg rest? It's the lever that clicked and broke? Do you know why and how. Please answer thank you

      • innerspin profile image

        Kim Kennedy 5 years ago from uk

        Thanks for your comment, Xenolit. We didn't expect recliners to have so many differences from static sofas. There is more floor space in the room now we no longer have a footstool. A fold down tray sounds useful, don't think we saw any with that option.

      • Xenonlit profile image

        Xenonlit 5 years ago

        Well done! You did thorough research and gave me some points to ponder. I never fit in recliners and always break down the footrests, but I am thinking about a double recliner sofa with the fold down tray in the middle. It can't be ugly, though.