Types Of Recliner Mechanisms Explained With Pros And Cons

Are you in the market for a reclining seat but unsure about the different types of recline mechanisms?

Look no further!

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll understand the differences between 9 of the most common types of recliner mechanisms available and why it matters which one you choose.

From a classic lever-handle recliner to an ultra-modern power lift recliner, there’s something for everyone on this list!

Let’s get started.

  • Key Takeaways

      • The power recliner and power-lift recliners are the easiest to adjust since they run on electric motors, but they are also the most expensive to buy.
      • Wall-hugger recliners are great for limited space since they utilize space in front of the chair for reclining.
      • The power-lift recliner mechanism is the most appropriate for people with mobility issues as it lifts the chair to an upright position for easy exiting.
      • The push-back recliners are the trendiest and most versatile when it comes to blending in with various spaces since they look like regular armchairs when not reclined.
      • Go for a swivel recliner if you want a piece that will let you turn the direction of your focus without having to come off it.

    9 Different Types of Recliner Mechanisms

    The next time you’re in the market for a recliner, it’s important to understand all of the different types available.

    Here are some of the most popular types of recliners and the perks they offer:

    1. Lever Handle Recliner

    When you hear of a recliner chair, one with a lever handle is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This is probably the iconic image of all reclining mechanisms and has come a long way since its invention.

    Source: Walmart

    It typically includes a single wooden or plastic handle – now the lever – on the side of the chair. To activate the feature, all it takes is pulling the lever, and the back of the chair reclines back.

    The lever recliner works well for anyone looking for a traditional recliner in their piece of furniture. It’s also an excellent option for people with limited mobility as it only requires a small effort to use. Of course, budget-wise, it’s more favorable, too!

    Advantages Of Lever Handle Recliner

    • Easy to use
    • Low cost
    • Classic image

    Disadvantages Of Lever Handle Recliner

    • Limited maximum recliner angle 
    • No lots of bells and whistles

    2. Rocking Recliner

    If you’re into the idea of a classic setup but with some additional motion, then the locking mechanism may be best for you. It’s simply a rocking chair with a recliner and is perfect for people who love to rock back and forth, especially with a newspaper or book in hand.

    The rocking action happens when the piece isn’t in the reclined position. The chair has been an old favorite for nursing mothers, thanks to the soothing effects of rocking.

    A rocker chair recliner mechanism will come in handy if you want to add some rocking into your novel-reading sessions or have trouble falling asleep and want something to soothe you into a quick nap.

    But then, the rocking feature of rocker recliners means they aren’t so stable, especially when one is getting out of them. As such, we don’t recommend it for the aged or anyone with mobility issues.

    Source: www.wayfair.com

    Advantages Of Rocking Recliner

    • Offers both reclining and rocking action
    • An excellent choice for nursing moms
    • Adds comfort to nap sessions and reading moments

    Disadvantages Of Rocking Recliner

    • Not the best for people with stability issues
    • Noisy when in use 

    3. Power Recliner

    Source: https://belfurniture.com/

    If you want some touch of modernity and to enjoy the convenience of recliner motors in your piece of furniture, then a power recliner is the technology to go for.

    Unlike other manual recliners that require the user’s input to recline the chair, the reclining mechanism of this chair uses electricity.

    The chair comes with buttons on either side and sometimes a touch screen technology to help you adjust the chair’s position from upright to any available angle.

    They are the newest advancement in chair recliner technology, so we expect them to recline with the least amount of effort.

    But then, since they use electricity, you can only use them close to a power outlet. Also, a power outage means you won’t be able to adjust your chair’s position unless your chair comes with a backup battery!

    Also Read: 15 Massage Chair Types Explained

    Advantages Of Power Recliner

    • Most effortless to use
    • Enjoy the convenience of technology
    • Wide range of angles available

    Disadvantages Of Power Recliner

    • Needs to be close to power outlets
    • May require more maintenance due to the use of electricity 

    4. Power Lift Recliner

    As the name implies, this variant combines the power recliner and lift chair. Also known as a riser chair, a power-lift recliner is a type of medical recliner primarily used by older people with limited mobility, individuals recovering from an injury, or anyone needing assistance getting from a chair.

    Like power recliners, chairs with power lift mechanisms will use electric motors to tilt the chair, albeit with the extra lift mechanism that adjusts the seat to a standing position when it’s time to come out of it.

    Source: www.usatoday.com

    This way, one can get out and in the power lift chair safely without putting too much strain on your body.

    Advantages of Power Lift Recliner

    • Great for people with limited mobility
    • Safe and easy way to get out of the chair 
    • Reduces strain on the body 

    Disadvantages Of Power Lift Recliner

    • High maintenance due to the use of electrical parts 
    • Costly compared to any other reclining technology

    5. Push-back Recliner

    Are you looking for a recliner that responds to your body language without you having to press a button or pull the lever? Then the push-back recliner may be your best bet.

    Source: https://lanefurniture.com/

    It works with a simple push-back motion of your body. That’s to say; for the chair to recline, you need to exert a bit of pressure – which is less of an effort for most people but may be difficult for people with back pains.

    More often, push-back recliners come in unique and trendy designs, which makes them great for anyone who needs to jazz up their interior décor.

    Plus, unrefined, these chairs look similar to the everyday armchair, which means it’s also versatile enough to blend in with any decor.

    Advantages Of Push-Back Recliner

    • Less effort to recline the piece
    • Excellent choice for people with back pains
    • Versatile and great for jazzing up any décor 

    Disadvantages Of Push-Back Recliner

    • Not ideal for people with limited mobility
    • The push-back motion may be too difficult for some people. 

    Related Read: Advantages And Disadvantages of Massage Chair

    6. Swivel Recliner

    Source: www.desertcart.co.ke

    If you need a recliner with more mobility and versatility, swivel recliners may be part of the furniture for you.

    This recliner sofa has a swivel function, allowing the chair to spin 360 degrees on its central axis.

    This way, you can rotate your chair to either side or turn it in any direction of your focus. You can think of it as a combination of an office chair and a recliner.

    That sounds cool and a seat everyone would love to spend time on in their living room, right?

    Well, not exactly.

    Since the swivel action means they don’t have a fixed firm base, swivel recliners won’t be the ideal go-to option for persons with mobility issues.

    Advantages Of Swivel Recliner

    • Added mobility and versatility
    • The swivel motion is smooth and quiet
    • It’s a great option for any living room 

    Disadvantages Of Swivel Recliner

    • The combination of swivel and reclining action in one requires much more space.
    • May require more maintenance due to the swivel mechanism. 

    7. Wall Hugger Recliner

    If you’d love to enjoy all the fun and perks of using a reclining piece but don’t have enough space for the regular one, the wall hugger recliner is a great option.

    As you’ve guessed from its name, wall hugger recliners don’t take up much space, making them an excellent choice if you intend to set up the chair in an area with a wall behind that won’t let you recline it in a typical way!

    Source: www.livingspaces.com

    Instead of reclining backward like other chairs, this piece of furniture has mechanisms that slide the seat and the footrest forward to attain the reclining position.

    That’s to say, this chair uses the space in front of it to recline instead of the space behind it.

    Advantages Of Wall Hugger Recliner

    • Needs less room to operate and recline
    • An ideal choice for a small space 
    • Can fit into tight spaces without issue

    Disadvantages Of Wall Hugger Recliner

    8. Pull-Handle Recliner

    Source: www.suburbanfurniture.com

    Pull handle recliner uses a mechanism similar to the window switch used to wind down and up the window of a car.

    To operate the mechanism, all you have to do is pull the handle located on either side of the seat. Once you do that, the footrests will pop up to the reclined position.

    The speed at which that happens is relatively faster compared to what you get when using a lever-handle recliner.

    Adjusting the angle of the backrest is much the same as using the push-back recliner. That’s to say; you’ll need to push your back against the seat until it reclines to your desired angle.

    Once you’ve had enough of the reclined position, you can easily get the seat to its usual posture by simply pushing your feet into the footrest while still in the seated position, in a much similar fashion as the lever handle recliner.

    Advantages Of Pull-Handle Recliner

    • Easy to open and close the footrests
    • No installation required 
    • Quick to recline the comfortable chair

    Disadvantages Of Pull-Handle Recliner

    • It may be difficult to get out of the seat
    • Takes up more space when reclining. 

    9. Glider Recliner

    Finally, the glider recliner is an excellent option if you love the idea of a rocker recliner but would want it in a smoother, more luxurious way.

    The glider recliner has the same rocking motion as a rocker but in a more subtle and smooth fashion.

    Unlike the rocker recliner that rocks on an arc, the glider recliner glides forward and backward on a sliding track mechanism, ensuring the unique movement of the chair gives a softer feel compared to the rocker recliner.

    Advantages Of Glider Recliner

    • Smooth and quiet movement
    • It’s a great addition to all living rooms
    • Provides a soothing feeling

    Disadvantages Of Glider Recliner

    • Its movement is slower compared to the rocker recliner 
    • Glider recliners are not ideal for people with mobility issues.


    As you can see, there are a few different types of recliner systems out there, and choosing the right one for you can make all the difference. Consider your lifestyle and needs before deciding which recliner fits you best.

    Don’t forget to consider cost, space needs, durability, range of motion, etc. As long as you factor in everything that counts, you’ll often end up with the perfect recliner and make the most out of your recliner seat.

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