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Sit Back and Relax: An Introduction to Recliners

Recliners are built with a mechanism that allows the seatback to tilt backwards, while the front of the base hinges up to create a footrest. This makes them incredibly comfortable for relaxing in, especially to watch television, or even for a quick power-nap.

History of recliners

You might imagine that reclining chairs are a fairly recent invention, but they actually date from as early as the middle of the 19th Century, when the French invented a chair with padded arms, seat, and back, and metal frame that allowed them to fold from a chair into a bed or chaise longue. The famous La-Z-Boy was invented by Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker in 1928, and the recliner concept has gone from strength to strength ever since. Reclining chairs were even used in the ready-rooms for astronauts participating in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, and were popular with US President Lyndon Baines Johnson.


Ashby Recliner Sofa

Today, reclining mechanisms are available not only in chairs, but in sofas, along with features such as adjustable headrests, heated seats, massagers, inbuilt entertainment systems, and a range of other gadgets for added comfort.


How do recliners work?

Recliners come in two main varieties: manual and automatic. Manual recliners generally have a lever at the side, which moves an internal mechanism to release the footrest and tilt the chair back. Automatic recliners have to be plugged into a power source, and usually have a ‘rocker’ switch that allows the chairs to be moved into a more reclined or more upright position with just a press of the button.


What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The advantages of a recliner sofa are obvious to anyone who enjoys putting their feet up and lying back while they watch a film, read a book, or even chat to friends. They can be wonderfully comfortable after a long day, and anyone who’s spent a bit of time sitting in a recliner might find it hard to go back to a regular sofa.

The disadvantages, however, are mainly to do with the need for an internal mechanism. This generally adds weight, meaning it can be harder to move the sofa around, and to get it into your property in the first place. The need for a hidden mechanism, and for the front of the sofa base to turn into a footstool, also means that recliners are restricted to a style with a solid base reaching almost to the floor.

Francesca Recliner Unit

In addition, automatic recliners will have to be plugged in which can restrict their placement or mean that you end up with cables to consider. You’ll also have to factor in that even the best recliner mechanisms may eventually need maintenance or repair.


Finally, of course, you have to think about the space that the recliner will fill when it is fully reclined. Though many are designed so that they don’t actually move backwards when reclining, allowing them to be safely placed against a wall, you will still have to factor in space for the footrests to rise, and that may restrict where you can place other furniture.


Nora Recliner Sofa

How to maintain and repair a recliner

Like all pieces of furniture, the most important point in maintaining your reclining chair or sofa is to keep it clean, dusting and vacuuming it regularly to avoid a buildup of dust, and removing stains promptly.


The mechanism itself should require little maintenance but, if it does eventually stop working properly, it is usually best to get assistance from the store you purchased it from or a professional sofa repair company. Bearing in mind that recliners are heavy and difficult to move, it is worthwhile finding a repair company that will come to your home, and most will be happy to do so.


With careful use, regular cleaning, and very occasional repairs, a recliner will last as long as any other piece of furniture.