Updated at: 25-11-2022 - By: Helen Skeates

This article will explain how to operate a manual recliner chair. You might be wondering, what is the difference between a manual and an electric recliner? Well, for one thing, with an electric recliner you don’t have to do any work at all!

But if you want to save money on your electricity bill or just want something more convenient for you, then we’ll show you how easy it can be to use a manual recliner chair.

What is a Manual Recliner Chair?

A manual recliner chair has a lever that allows you to adjust the angle of your back, head, and feet by pulling on it. It’s not an automatic mechanism but rather relies on muscle power.

What is an Automatic Recliner Chair?

An automatic reclining chair will go from an upright sitting position all the way down so you can sleep. The chair will do it automatically without you having to pull a lever or push buttons, so it’s easier on the arms and hands.

The difference between manual recliner chairs and automatic ones is that with a manual one, you have control over how far back you go by pulling on the hand-held lever; whereas with an automatic one, the chair controls how far back you go.

How Does a Manual Recliner Chair Work? 4 Ideas! - Krostrade

Another difference is that an automatic recliner moves at a constant speed while a manual one goes from sitting to reclining positions slower and faster depending on the angle.

Some people find it more comfortable for their body type, as they have full control over how much they lean back in the chair and can help alleviate back pain.

More people prefer automatic recliner chairs since they are more comfortable, as the chair automatically moves at a constant speed without any input from the user, but many say that manual ones have more control over how much you lean back in them and also provide relief for their backs after periods of time in an uncomfortable position.

One of the main differences between manual and automatic recliner chairs is how they control how far back you go. Another difference is that an automatic recliner moves at a constant speed while a manual one goes from sitting to reclining positions slower and faster depending on the angle.

How Do Recliner Chairs Work?

Good question and one that is best answered by looking at the type of recliner chairs available.

  • Manual Recliner Chair – As the name suggests, manual recliner chairs recline using a lever on the side of the chair. These chairs are the cheapest, but they require some strength and dexterity on your behalf to operate them.
  • Electric Recliner Chair – The most common chair because it combines a reclining action for comfort, with an electric motor for ease of use. You press a button and the chair reclines with hardly any effort from you.
  • Electric Rise and Recliner Chair – Top of the range for me is the electric rise and recline chair. This is the chair I need because it combines the reclining action with the added advantage of the chair tilting and rising so that it’s easy to get out of. These chairs cost more but for people with mobility problems are arguably the most useful.
  • Massaging Recliner Chair – You can buy both manual and electric massaging recliner chairs. They combine reclining into a comfortable position with a soothing massage.
  • Massaging Rise and Recliner Chair – For ultimate luxury, the massaging rise and recline chair is it. Granted these chairs come at a price. But, the benefits outweigh the cost. At the touch of a button, you can recline into your favourite position. While away the hours with a soothing head to toe massage. Then, when you’re ready to get up, you can do so from an almost upright position.

Also, and much to my delight, recliner chairs no longer look like they should be in a nursing home.

Today, chairs are stylish and come in a range of colours and fabrics, meaning there is a chair to suit every home.

The Benefits of Using a Recliner Chair.

  1. Comfort – For me, its all about comfort. When I sit down, I want to be able to rest in comfort not to be constantly jiggling myself to get comfortable. I hate being propped up with cushions and having to move them every few minutes. I want to be able to put my feet up without laying down.
  2. Relieves Pressure – A huge benefit of using a recliner is you can take the pressure off your joints. Because the chair can be manoeuvred at the touch of a button, you decide the most suitable position not the design of the chair.
  3. Mobility – Another benefit, for me anyway, is that when I get up from being stuck in a static position, I find it difficult to walk. If I’ve been in one position for any length of time, I get stiff. Walking while my joints are stiff is uncomfortable. Recliners can reduce stiffness, aiding your mobility.
  4. Independence – I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes, I need help getting out of my chair. There is nothing more embarrassing than asking one of my sons to help me get up. Rise and recliner chairs would if nothing else, help me keep my independence and remove the need to relying on someone else.

Things to Consider When Buying a Reclining Chair

When it comes to buying your new recliner chair there are things to consider. Not least the following:

#1 Try Before You Buy – Given I have mentioned comfort a few times, It’s important to try a recliner before you buy it. Most online retailers offer a money back guarantee. Buy from a supplier who will let you return the chair if you’re not happy.

#2 Price – There is a huge variation in prices when it comes to recliner chairs. But, there is also a huge variation in what each chair can do and how it does it. Of course, I want you all to get the best price, but I’d also say, you get what you pay for. My advice would be to buy the best recliner you can afford.

#3 After Sales Service – Recliner and Rise and Recliner chairs have moving parts. Therefore, you must think about what would happen if something went wrong. The good news, if you buy a recliner from a reputable retailer they’ll offer a warranty or guarantee for your piece of mind.

#4 Size and Weight – It’s worth mentioning when you buy a recliner that some of them are not only big in size but also heavy. Make sure you have the space to accommodate it and help should you need to move it.

Tips on Operating a Manual Recliner Chair?

Tip 1. To use a manual recliner chair, you’ll want to start by adjusting the height of the backrest so that it’s comfortable. You can do this by pressing on the button in front and pulling up or down on one side until it feels right for your size frame.

Tip 2. If you’re not using your chair for a while, you can recline back all the way and remove pressure from any part of your body.

Tip 3. If you need to go out or take care of some business but want to get right back into it when you’re done, then just release the lever by pressing it down with one hand – this will allow it to recline into a different position.

Tip 4. This will allow you to avoid unnecessary stiffness when getting back in the chair and place it at an angle that’s most comfortable for your body type.

Sherborne Upholstery Virginia Manual Reclining Chair - Recliners - Hafren Furnishers

Are Manual Recliners Any Good? 

Quiet: Many people that choose manual recliners like them because they are quieter than other types of chairs. This comes in handy for those who need to have long conversations but don’t want their voices heard outside of the room or apartment.

Some even say it’s better when you live with a partner, as your spouse won’t hear you trying to get out of the chair.

This can also come in handy if your home is on a second floor and need complete silence or when watching TV with children who are sleeping nearby.

How Much do They Cost?

Cost:  Manual recliners might be more expensive than other options because there is more variety in the types. They also require that you have some knowledge about how to use them and know how they differ from other chairs.

You can get manual recliners for as little as $300, but most average around $700 or so.

How Much do They Weigh?

Weight:  Manual recliners usually weigh between 60 and 90 pounds, depending on the make.

If you are looking for a lighter design, try one that has less padding or is made of aluminum instead of steel.

The weight can be tough to manage if there’s no place in your home for it except standing upright by itself as many people would probably need to do.

How Many Types Are There?

Types:  There are three main types of recliners, manual, electric, and power. The differences in the design will determine how much you can use it before needing a recharge or how often you have to refill your battery. Some models also allow you to tilt back the back of the chair so it reclines.

What do They Look Like?

Appearance:  Manual recliners typically have a more traditional appearance, with either an upholstered or leather-covered seat and armrests that bend out toward you for leaning on if needed.

Electric chairs often feature white plastic seats in a bucket-like design, with levers to recline and a footrest. In their upright position, they can double as extra seating for guests or even an occasional bed. Power chairs have all the features of electric models but are operated by pushing buttons on the arms of the chair.

Are You Considering a Recliner Chair?

If you are, I hope this overview has given you an insight into what to consider when you are buying a recliner.

Without a doubt, the benefits of using a recliner far outweigh the cost of buying one. I often say, what price on health, and that goes for maintaining your health too.

I’d love to hear from any of you who own a recliner or rise and recliner. Let me know in the comments which chair you have, is it comfortable and whether you think it’s worth the money?

How to Maintain and Care For a Recliner Chair

1. Prevent damage to your chair

It is always best to start on a proactive stance and take preventative measures before anything happens to the furniture. Indeed, the number one to guarantee long life from recliner chairs is to avoid placing them in direct sunlight. The majority of the chairs are made of leather, which can be deeply affected by direct sunlight. The leather starts to fade out and get cracks, which leaves it looking old and worn out.

Another measure is to reduce some strong odours from reaching the seat. For example, smokers are likely to leave the smell on the fabric, and that will only fasten the ageing process.

Finally, it is worth changing the loose cushions often. This will reduce the wear and tear process, which is usually accelerated by concentrated use.

2. Deep clean the leather

Maintaining leather recliners is often a hard task. Many people would preferably leave the job to professionals, in spite of the cost. However, for those who might want to clean it themselves, there is a way. The most critical advice is to avoid water at all costs. The significant detriment to using the liquid is that it leaves huge stains on the leather.

The best alternative is to use a steam cleaner. It might be another expense that you might not be willing to accommodate, but in the long run, it is worth it. Not only does it remove the usual dust, but it also gets rid of the bad smells that could have accumulated. Another option could be the use of saddle soap. It will remove all the dirt, while also ensuring that the seat does not develop cracks.

3. Look after the fabric

Cleaning a fabric recliner is not as difficult as taking care of a leather one. Nevertheless, that does not mean that you should ignore it. The first thing to always consider is vacuum cleaning. The fabrics on recliner chairs can be sensitive and delicate, and thus, extreme care is necessary. It is recommended to have a soft brush doing the work.

Secondly, baby wipes come in very handy in the process of cleaning the seats. That is best for taking care of small spots with dirt.

It is also good practice to have microfibre cloth available in the house. Combined with a fabric cleaner, it can do an outstanding job of cleaning. While the fabric may not be as sensitive to water as the leather, it would be excellent if the owner could avoid it entirely.

Nevada Manual Recliner Chair - TR Hayes Furniture Bath

4. Take care of the mechanics

The principal difference between a standard seat and a recliner chair is the mechanical part. The feature that makes it move around and be manipulated into different angles is also essential when considering maintenance. It is even more critical in recliner chairs for the elderly as they may not have the ability to take care of the furniture appropriately. It is pertinent to ensure to regularly oil the mechanical section.

Again, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Do not wait until the chair produces creaking sounds, or the movement is suddenly jeopardised. Oil it before, and it will serve you diligently for a long time.


These are just a few tips that can help you to manage a recliner chair. If you want to see a variety of products and speak to professionals about the rise and recliner chairs, get in touch with our team at Mobility Furniture Company!