Quite often a Reclining Sofa Set is very large and bulky in size and scale. In order to add all of the required reinforcement into the unit it tends to make them heavier looking than most stationary sofas. The good news is that many manufacturers make reclining units in up-to-date styles so they don’t always appear as if they came out of your grandmother’s living room. The seat pan height on many reclining units tends to be a little higher than normal so when a user of 5’-5” or less sits down, their feet will not make contact with the floor. This is no problem when you sit back to relax at home and read a book or watch some TV but it is an odd sensation when you have guests over and they can’t put their feet flat on the floor. Often the pan will be tilted back to make the user more comfortable for when you recline but you may have the feeling that you are leaning way back into your seat. There are definitely units that have a flatter seat pan so it doesn’t create the leaning back sensation however the unit sometimes won’t offer you the same comfort because of the angle created when you are reclined. Be sure that the headrest can support your head properly. You don’t want to end up with a unit that makes you feel like you are at the dentist’s office getting a checkup. Take your time to check all the angles and positions of the unit, while you are still in the showroom, so you that you’re certain of the fit for your lifestyle once you get it home.
You need to confirm that the construction on the unit(s) is strong enough to last. Most manufacturers will make the reclining portion of the unit out of steel. Not all steel is equal. Some units will use a heavier gauge steel so that the unit can take years of opening and closing without any possibility of failing. They will use stronger nuts and bolts, springs and coils, or higher quality foams to provide a longer life for the unit. Many units use a combination of metal for the seat box and wood for the balance of the unit for the overall frame. Check to see how the units are constructed by tipping the unit forward and take a look on the underside of the unit to see how they have put it together. Most manufacturers use a solid metal chassis or frame so that whether you have a one, two, or three seat unit they are all locked together using nuts and bolts in metal-to-metal fitments. In addition the arms are also attached using metal-to-metal fitments which adds to the strength and durability of the units. Now, the arms are made of wood, that is easy to shape into all different arm styles, and easy to cover with foam padding in a variety of thickness for comfort. Ultimately you want to end up with a unit that feels rigid and strong; no wiggly arms or seats once you have it in your home.
Recliners are typically made in two ways. One version allows you to recline but you have to be away from the wall or any obstacles, so it won’t bump into it once you have pulled the release lever. I find that with the standard mechanism you need to have about 4” to 6” away from the wall to alleviate bumping or crashing into other obstructions in the home. The other mechanism is referred to as a zero clearance or wall saver type. The mechanism in these units reclines in a slightly different way because the seat pan of the unit actually slides forward away from the frame of the unit thus taking up less space behind it. They look the same from the outside but the insides perform differently. The bonus to a zero clearance is that you can place these units anywhere in a room with no fear of hitting the wall.
Some manufacturers sell a single chair for $3,000. The reason I mention this detail is that there are some stores that will sell an entire set (sofa, loveseat, chair) for well under that price. This comes back to consumer awareness. Check and compare the look and the feel of a lesser priced set against the look and feel of a higher priced set and you decide if you think they are of the same quality and workmanship. Many companies make products in a lower price range so that they have something to offer in a furniture category, but it doesn’t mean they are well-built and made to last. Generally when you are looking to spend $8,000 plus dollars on a reclining set you will be getting a higher quality in all aspects of the furniture. The metal they use; the fitments, and the wood, will all be of a higher quality which equates to the consumer getting a set that will stand up to everyday wear and tear.
When the user pulls the release lever (or toggle), the footrest automatically lifts into a 90 degree angle. You have no choice. That is the way they are made. Unfortunately you need to close them with your legs. I have been in furniture stores countless times watching a person with diminished capacities and they just cannot do it. The mechanisms are too strong and too rigid for them to be successful with this required action. Some manufacturers have kept the handle on the side of the chair that you can push against to close the unit. This handle assists the user in closing the recliner to a an upright position. Make sure that if you are going to purchase reclining sets for your home to have the entire family try them out, each piece, to make sure they can perform this task. If they can’t then you should consider other sets.
A way to overcome this difficulty is by using powered recliners. Press a button to open or close. It’s that easy. The other positive with the powered recliner sets is that the user now has infinite control over the seat position. If you wish to have a slight angle for your legs it’s no problem, unlike manual recliners that always put your legs at a 90 degree angle. Power does give the user the option to recline at any angle they wish. The question always comes up, “Will the motors burn out over time”? The answer is yes, however, most manufacturers sell the motors separately and they are easy to replace in your home. Tip the unit forward to expose the electric motor, unscrew, unplug, and pop back in new motor. It’s really is an easy fix. “How long will the motors last”? I have seen some electric motors last for five years and I have seen some that last for one year. This comes back to warranties from the manufacturer and from the store from which you are buying them from. I have said before that I am a big believer in purchasing any and all service and warranty packages available in case this happens one month or one year after I bring it home from the store.
As to be expected when you have several electric motors you require electric cords that need to be plugged into a wall receptacle. When you have a sofa, loveseat and chair you’ll have at least three electric cords that need a power supply. Be sure to check how many receptacles you have in your room and their positions. When powered recliners are placed in the middle of a room the user will have to contend with all the power cords laying on the floor. Where to put them and how to hide them? Often I have seen customers buy an area rug to cover all the cords or strategically place coffee and end tables so that people don’t trip on them.
The other question I love is, “What if the power goes out while I’m reclining in the chair”? And I always tell them, “You’re stuck there forever”. (LOL). The units will NOT close without power. If you force the leg support down when the power is turned off you will break the mechanism. It’s that simple. Some units have a backup battery with enough power to allow you to close it or otherwise climb out of the unit and wait for the power to be turned back on before closing.