Recliner Sofas & Chair FAQs - The Ultimate Guide to Recliners


What is a Recliner?

Recliners are sofas or chairs which recline through the raising of the front and lowering of the back. They usually have a backrest which tilts backwards while the front becomes a raised footrest. Recliners are designed to maximize comfort and relaxation. There is a huge variety of recliners to choose from, each with their own unique benefits.

How do recliners work?

Recliners vary in design and mechanism, but most recliners feature a headrest, footrest and lumbar support. The default position of these reflects a standard chair or sofa. Through manual or powered operation, the configuration of these components can then be set to recline.

How do manual recliners work?

Many recliners are operated by the occupant manually. Commonly the position of the recliner is adjusted by pushing on the armrests while leaning backwards against the backrest. The occupant then uses their body weight to adjust the shape and extend the footrest. For some recliners, this can be operated with a lever, while others are fully manual.

How do power recliners work?

As the name suggests, power recliners take all the effort out of reclining and use electric motors to adjust the positioning of a recliner at the push of a button. No physical exertion is required to operate a power recliner, which makes them excellent for elderly people or those with physical impairments or injuries.

What is a chaise recliner?

A chaise lounge is a type of sofa or chair that has amd extended footrest, which allows you to have your feet fully elevated. The chaise is generally long enough to support the full weight of your legs. 

A chaise recliner takes relaxation to the next level by offering the extended chaise for your legs, while reclining the back rest - some chaise recliners allow you to rest in an almost fully supine position (flat on your back).

What is a rocker recliner?

Rocker recliners are reclining chairs which use an arched track in order to rock back and forth between reclining positions. These are a popular choice for parents nursing young children, and are great for those who need a little help when napping. The La-Z-Boy Originals Georgina is a great example of a rocker recliner.

What is a swivel recliner?

As the name suggests, a swivel recliner incorporates a circular range of motion for those who find the standard motion of recliners restrictive. They are generally constructed on a circular base, allowing you to swivel left and right in addition to backwards reclining. The Hjort Knudsen Komfort is an exceptional example of a swivel recliner.

What is a lift & rise recliner?

Lift and rise reclining chairs are engineered for maximum mobility. For people who might find it difficult to get in and out of a recliner chair, a lift and rise recliner will rise and tilt in order to offer a helping hand when standing up or sitting down. 

Lift and rise recliners are a popular choice for elderly folks or those with physical impairments, and are available in both single and dual motors. If you are unsure which lift and rise recliner is best suited to your needs, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.

What is a head tilt recliner?

Head tilt recliners offer even more mobility thanks to the added headrest adjustment functionality. This means, whether you want to put your head back and relax, or get a little additional support when reading or watching TV, you can adjust the head position to maximize comfort.

Are recliner chairs beneficial for your back?

Nothing beats a recliner when unwinding after a long day - but is it good for your back? In short, recliners are very good for your back if it has adequate lumbar support, elevates your feet appropriately and is the right shape and firmness for your body.

What is lumbar support?

Lumbar support is very important when choosing a sofa, chair or any other kind of sitting furniture. Lumbar support helps support the lower back (or lumbar region) when sitting down. 

It helps keep your spine correctly aligned to its natural shape, preventing muscles from overworking themselves. Chairs without lumbar support can cause various problems if used for long periods, including stiffness and muscular issues.

At Frank Knighton, we offer custom lumbar support, which means we can tailor your sofa or chair shape so it suits you perfectly. Find out more in our sofa buying guide.

Is it okay to sleep on a recliner?

A good quality recliner is so relaxing to sit in, you might feel the urge to spend the night there. But is this okay? A bed with a quality mattress is most often the best way to sleep, but for those who struggle to sleep in a conventional bed, recliners are an excellent solution.

For starters, many pregnant women who find it uncomfortable to sleep on a regular bed have said that a recliner has helped them catch some much needed sleep. Similarly for people who suffer from acid reflux, or those have recently had surgery, sleeping at a slight incline has been known to ease the discomfort.

While it wouldn’t be recommended for most people as a permanent substitute for a bed, sleeping in a recliner is perfectly fine for most people. If you wish to learn more about whether sleeping in a recliner could be beneficial or not, we recommend seeking official medical advice.

Can you adjust the seat positioning or height on a recliner?

Recliners can certainly be adjusted beyond what handles or other mechanisms allow, but it is very important that you seek the help of an expert if you are wanting to make any permanent adjustments that require dismantling of any parts. Trying to do this yourself could result in damage (and a voided warranty).

At Frank Knighton, we offer custom seat positioning and height adjustment on all the bespoke models that we sell. For example, taller people might want their seat to be positioned higher, while someone with shorter legs may wish for it to be lower so that their feet can touch the floor.

If you need any help adjusting the positioning or height of your recliner, contact us and we will be more than happy to assist,.

How long do recliner motors last?

Power recliner motors are very reliable and modern, reputable manufacturers will fit their recliners with motors designed to last many years. For recliners bought from Frank Knighton, we can guarantee the power packs, motors and switches for 10 years.

The lifespan of any chair or sofa depends on how it is used, the environment in which it is used, and how well it is looked after. With the right care and maintenance, your recliner can last for a very long time indeed.

Can you remove the back of a recliner?

If you need to dismantle any part of a reclining sofa or chair, you should always consult the manufacturer to find out if it can be done in a way that will not risk damage to your sofa, or problems with your warranty. Better still, ask a local expert for assistance.

Dismantling of a recliner may be necessary for moving it between rooms or through doorways that otherwise are not wide enough to fit the whole thing through.

Be aware, there may be generic guides online explaining how to dismantle sofa or chair parts - there are countless different designs and configurations out there, so solutions you find may not be suitable or safe for your own model.

If in doubt, always ask the experts.

Can you secure a recliner chair to the floor?

If your recliner chair is sliding or moving on a hard, smooth floor, such as hardwood, there are plenty of ways to secure it in place.

  • Rubber Grippers are cheap and widely available at furniture and DIY stores. These sit between the legs or metal framework of your recliner and improve friction without leaving any kind of residue.
  • Cork is a more natural looking alternative to rubber grippers that works in the same way. It is non-permanent and not adhesive based. The only thing to bear in mind is that cork may be thicker than rubber, meaning it could elevate your recliner slightly more.
  • No-slip mats are ideal for recliners with a framework rather than four legs, as you cannot see beneath it. A non-slip mat sits beneath your chair, hidden from view. You can make it blend in even more by choosing one which matches the colour of your floor.

When choosing a method of securing your recliner chair to the floor, make sure you choose one that is suitable for your floor type. Plastic, for example, has less grip than rubber and cork, and might scratch your floorboards.

Make sure the grippers you choose are appropriate for the construction of your chair too - note that “cups” require legs to work.

Who invented the recliner?

The first reclining chair was reportedly owned by Napoleon III, who was French president from 1848-52 and Emperor between 1985-70. It was a kind of camp bed that could double up as a chair, bed and chaise lounge.

It is not known who designed this reclining chair, but it was an excellent early example of a chair in which the occupant could sit upright, recline with elevated feet, and even lie down.

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