9 Types of Recliners: Decide Which Is Right for You

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Last updated: August 23, 2023
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Recliners boast of adjustable features and extra capabilities that provide greater support and comfort, compared to a traditional chair. What’s more, users don’t have to settle for a one-size-fits-all option that may not be equipped to hold heavy weight. There are different types of reclines varying in style, size, weight capacity, cost and functionality to accommodate a broader range of individual lifestyles.

This guide compares the features as well as the pros and cons of each type in detail. We also recommend the most ideal situation for each of the recliners so you can choose the one that will best serve your needs. Some recliners are more suitable for small spaces; rocking models are great at lulling little ones to sleep; and then there are others with user-friendly controls that are convenient for the elderly or people with medical issues. Whatever your personal needs, we are sure that you will find the right model among the different types of recliners that we have reviewed.

The 9 types of recliners

The different types of recliners also vary in size, mode of operation, functionality and pricing, so your choice of recliner should be dictated by your personal needs. Before you commit yourself, check the available features and the dimensions to get the right fit and ultimate comfort.. We have included recliners suitable for babies, people with limited mobility, joint pain, and small spaces. We have also reviewed massage recliners that will sooth aches and help you relax after work.

1. Two-position

9 Types of Recliners: Decide Which Is Right for You

This is a standard recliner that you are most likely to find in homes because it is inexpensive. It has basic features and, as the name suggests, only provides two positions; upright or fully reclined. The recliner comes with a footrest operated by a lever. However, it requires plenty of space because it reclines backwards as the footrest moves upwards. We recommend leaving approximately 3 feet of space to allow the recliner to extend fully. This type would be ideal as a starter model, and you can purchase it in different colors and materials.

2. Rocker

This type of recliner features a gentle back and forth rocking motion along an arched track that induces sleep, making it suitable for babies, nursing mothers and people suffering from insomnia.

Rockers provide the best recliners for sleeping, and they feature different reclining positions for reading, sleeping and watching TV, and most of them can also swivel. They are affordable and space savers because the back does not recline when the footrest is up. This allows you to install the recliner near the wall in small bedrooms and nurseries.

3. Glider

Gliders and rockers are similar, varying only in their motion. While rockers move along an arched pathway, gliders move forwards and backwards on a straight track. Gliders are easy to move when you want to reach out for something or to reposition the seat.

Some gliders may be bigger than rockers, so confirm the measurements to ensure it can fit in the space available.

4. Power

This is undoubtedly the easiest type to operate, making it the best recliner for older users and people with physical limitations. Instead of using a lever or your back weight, this automated recliner features a motor and a power button that is pressed to recline and to release the footrest. The recliner comes with multiple reclining positions so you can choose your preferred angle, and some models allow you to move the headrest and footrest independently. Their drawback is that they are heavier and more expensive than traditional recliners.

5. Swivel

9 Types of Recliners: Decide Which Is Right for You

This type of recliner has the widest range of motions that lets you face any direction, with some models pivoting at 360 degrees. The recliner moves along a circular base that allows users to shift backwards as well as to their right and left direction. This type tends to be slightly heavy but it is easy to move it around.

6. Lift

This is also known as riser recliner because it is optimized to help you disembark from the seat effortlessly, making it the recommended option for the elderly and users with weak knees and other physical limitations that make it difficult to stand up without assistance.

This type of recliner features powered lift mechanism that gently raises the seat to an upright position with the seat angling forwards. It is also equipped with a motor that controls lifting and reclining. Advanced ones, like the Signature Design by Ashley, have dual motor that allow users to move the headrest and footrest separately and also recline fully. The versatile lift recliners are operated by a remote controller or touch pad and they come in different sizes and shapes. However, they are costly and they take up a lot of space, so they should be installed away from walls for maximum extension. There are few single-motor models which reduce their footprint by moving the seat base forwards as they recline.

7. Wall hugger

This is the best space-saving type of recliner because it moves forwards, requiring maximum room of only 6 inches from the wall. The headrest remains in an upright position and you can adjust some recliners to lift the seat base so you can easily stand up. The main advantage of a wall hugger recliner is the compact profile that fits in small rooms, but users have to contend with limited motion range.

8. Massage

If you fancy having a chair that also serves as a masseuse for your shoulders, lumbar, back, thighs and legs, then you should go for this luxurious type of recliner. It is equipped to improve blood circulation and to relieve sore muscles and pressure points. These motorized recliners feature varied massage features and modes that may include vibrating and heating functions. Users can choose from different massage modes and adjust the vibration intensity. Since this type is optimized for comfort, it normally features thick padding, remote control operation, cup holders and pockets to store essential items within reach. The high degree of comfort makes it a popular choice as a reclining loveseat for couples.

Massage recliners are expensive but they provide great value for money. They are also available in different fabric and color options to accommodate more personal preferences.

9. Push Back

This recliner uses your own weight to recline when you lean back as opposed to the other types of recliners that utilize a button or lever. They are affordable and their simple design does not take up a lot of space. Unfortunately, most of them do not include an integrated footrest.

How to choose the right type for you?

To choose the right type of recliner for you, you should factor in the space available and how you intend to use the seat. Get an automated model such as lift or power recliner with convenient controls if you have limited mobility like users recovering from surgery, or buy a wall hugger for restricted spaces, or consider a rocker for a nursery. Remember that the more features a recliner has, the higher it will cost and it will also be generally big to accommodate those functions.

Final thoughts

We hope that our review of the different types of recliners and their functions will help you to make an informed decision that will match your budget, space and individual requirements. If you can’t decide between the different types, opt for a model that combines several in one. One of the bestselling models out there, the Esright Massage Recliner can swivel, rock, heat, and vibrate.

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