Submitted by Furniture Professor
What should you look for when buying a recliner?
Of course, aesthetics and comfort are at or near the top of the list. But, what should you look for under the hood? Can you go to Fred’s Discount Barn (find a furniture store in your area) and get a recliner that will last for five or ten years. Do you have to pay top dollar to get a durable, attractive and comfortable recliner? Allow me to venture some opinions and facts on the subject.
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First, let’s deal with the discount furniture stores. I would recommend these stores if budget is the overriding concern. If you follow my suggestions, you will at least come out of there with the best piece of motion furniture that you can afford. Motion furniture has a steel rocking/reclining frame and mechanism. I have had a Flexsteel reclining sofa for more than two decades. The upholstery is done for and the foam cushions are toast but the recliners and the frame itself are as good as new. If reupholstering didn’t cost almost as much as a new sofa, I would consider having the sofa redone.
Here is where the rub comes.
All recliners have a steel mechanism but if you will open a few recliners in different price points and look inside the base, you will see that there are some glaring differences.
First, notice the thickness of the steel and the gauge of the springs. The more expensive pieces will usually have noticeably thicker steel and heavier gauge wire in the springs. This will greatly impact the durability and operation of the chair. Read more about how long furniture should last.
Next, sit in the chair. Once again, wobble is unacceptable. If it starts out feeling loose, it won’t last long.
Then notice the thickness and density of the foam in the cushions. Many people think that soft and enveloping is great. Less dense foam, feathers or batting will break down faster. Also note where the end of the foot rest hits you. If it is too short, you will not be able to stay in the chair for very long without your feet going to sleep or your ankle and calf aching.
It’s time to activate the reclining mechanism. Look for smooth action that doesn’t jolt you. Some manufacturers have extremely gentle motion. Lane has a patent on their mechanism and for good reason. It is extremely smooth. Some recliners pop up so quickly that they are startling. Recent advances in power mechanisms take away someo of the issues found in standard manual recliners.
Price usually coincides with the quality in motion furniture. Look for respected old names in furniture. Lane, La-Z-Boy, Flexsteel and others make very good furniture that should give you excellent service for years to come. Many soft goods manufacturers have brought their manufacturing back to the United States. They found that there were fewer quality issues and they could get product quicker than they could from Asia. Also, as labor costs increased in Asia and the price of shipping bulky items across the Pacific skyrocketed, American product became very competitive with offshore pricing.
When it comes to price you should generally expect anything under $500 to be disposable. It should last a few years but that will probably be it. $500 to $1,000 should get you a decent recliner chair that could last for a decade or more. Above $1,000 should knock your socks off and last longer than you want it to. Good hunting.