Best reclining sofa and best recliners for back pain and heavy people – based on 1300+ user experiences

by | sofa-picks, sofas

T he results you’ll see below are based on consultations with 4 furniture repair experts and statistical modeling of over 1,300 reviews of the recliners.

About 8 months ago the experts helped us make the initial picks.

We proceeded to analyze all the user experiences and used that data to get to the quality ratings you’ll see below.

Since we initially published it, we adjusted to make it more versatile (we update it montly). For you, this means that whatever the type of chair or reclining sofa/couch you’re looking for (power-operated or classic), you’ll find it below.

brown reclining sofa

Last updated: May 2018

Number of products reviewed: 58

What are you looking for?

This guide is split into 4 sections – click one of the buttons below to skip to a section.

three seat reclining sofa beige

Best power reclining sofa – TOP 10

 
Sofa
 
Info
Rating
& quick links
 
coaster delange sofa

Coaster Delange

 

‣ Type: power-operated
‣ Material: faux leather
‣ Size: 86 x 43.6 x 43 "
‣ Weight: 400 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
 
9.6

Click here to skip to all ratings

 
 
home elegance black sofa

Homelegance Bonded

 
 

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: bonded leather
or microfiber
‣ Size: 83 x 40 x 39 "
‣ Weight: 177 lbs
‣ Colors available: 3

 
 
 
9.2

Click here to skip to all ratings

 
 
setcraft anthem power operated recliner sofa red

Seatcraft Anthem

 
 

‣ Type: power-operated
‣ Material: genuine leather
‣ Size: 86 x 4.6 x 43 "
‣ Weight: 400 lbs
‣ Colors available: 3

 
 
9.2

Click here to skip to all ratings
Ridgemont loon peak

Ridgemont Loon Peak

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: polyester
‣ Size: 87 x 40 x 40 "
‣ Weight: 187 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
8.7
homelegance laertes power reclining couch
Homelegance Laertes

‣ Type: power-operated
‣ Material: leather
‣ Size: 109.5 x 39.5 x 36.75 "
‣ Weight: 211 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
8.66
signature ashley quinn lyn sofa

Signature Design
Quinn Lyn

‣ Type: power-operated
‣ Material: leather
‣ Size: 89 x 41 x 40 "
‣ Weight: 227 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
8.4
Simmons double motion upholstered sofa

Simmons Mendes
Double Motion

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: upholstered
‣ Size: 89 x 41 x 41 "
‣ Weight: 185 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1

 
8.3
seatcraft republic power sofa

Seatcraft Republic

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: upholstered
‣ Size: 83 x 44 x 38 "
‣ Weight: 335 lbs
‣ Colors available: 2
 
8.15
edgar double reclining sofa by andover mills

Edgar Andover Mills

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: faux leather
‣ Size: 81 x 38.5 x 38 "
‣ Weight: 209 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
8.1
erik latitude run sofa

Erik Double Latitude Run

‣ Type: manual
‣ Material: bonded leather
‣ Size: 86 x 44.5 x 38.5 "
‣ Weight: 209 lbs
‣ Colors available: 1
 
8.1

Top pick among power-operated
Coaster Delange recliner

If a modern look appeals to you and works with your room and you’re looking for a power-operated sofa, the Coaster is probably where your search ends.

On the design side of things, it’s conversation starter. That goes for both first-sight impression and all the gadgets it packs, through seamlassly hidden LED-lighting & USB ports to the touch controls.

With untis like this, you typically see wires and cables popping all around. There’s none of that with the coaster – the wire management unit pops-up to set things up and “hides” back down into the unit. The attention to detail is nothing short of impressive.

On the “substance” side – the look and feel of the faux leather is soft and similar to the real thing. It doesn’t have that cheap “plasticky” feel to it.

coaster power reclining sofa black

Runner-up – SeatCraft Anthem

There is a sofa that with very close quality ratings to the Coaster. It’s the Seatcraft Anthem. It even looks very similar and has similar features.

The main difference between is that the Antheam is genuine leather. On the other hand, it costs much more – at the time of the last update to this guide, it was almost double the cost of the Coaster.

We have no way of tracking prices daily, so we can’t list them precisely. You can check how they currently compare by following the links below the pictures.

Best reclining sofa review (manual)
Homelegance bonded

Homelegance was also one of the first brands our panel of furniture repair experts mentioned. What they stressed is the fact that it’s one of the brands with the lowest %s of malfunctions.

The firmness and loft are in the medium range and what we’ve seen is that 95 % of satisfaction with the comfort.

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More info - click to expand
  • Leather (PU, bonded)
  • Percentages – Polyester (74), Leather (18), Cotton (10)
  • Width of the seat: 21 “
  • Colors available: black and brown
  • Design of the armrest – rolled with tufted channels and nail accents on the side
  • Height of the armrest: 25 “
  • Mechanism – double-reclining levers for the classic and power mechanism for the power recliner
  • Dimensions: 90 x 38.5 x 40 “
  • Also available: chair and loveseat in matching colors
image of the homelegance - voted best reclining sofa among manually operated
  • Comfort 95%
  • Design 91%
  • Build quality 92%
  • Value for money 90%

Bottom line

This Houselegance sofa has no real competition in terms of value for money and user satisfaction among the manually-operated reclining sofas.

It was also one of the brands with the lowest malfunction % as reported by the furniture restoration experts we talked to.

Best recliner for back pain
Esright Ergonomic Heated Massage Chair

When we started working on this guide about 8 months back and we saw this Esright on the list that our furniture repair consultants put together we didn’t think it will find it’s way to our top picks.

Why?

Because when we see the word “massage” we expect a chair/recliner that costs thousands and doesn’t do much. We all know those stories about getting a massage chair which ends up in your basement.

That’s why we were taken aback by the price – it’s a fraction of what similar chairs cost. And that’s not an exaggeration – it is by far the best recliner for back pain, both in it’s price range and a few ranges above.

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More about pricing - click to expand

Chairs with a heating and massage features go for 500-800 % more than this Esright.

The reason behind it is that most of these high-end models come in classic leather, while this Esright is PU. The good part about PU is that, if well-made like it is with this chair, it looks and feels just like real leather and it’s more durable, resistant to stains and spills and easier to clean.

For us, as well as most users we talked to, the point about it not being real leather is moot. In fact, we’d choose this Esright over the crazy expensive leather models even if they were much closer in price.

esright - voted best recliner for back pain
  • Comfort 95%
  • Design 91%
  • Build quality 92%
  • Value for money 90%

What makes it the best recliner for back pain?

 

The one-piece arched design of the back-rest relieves the muscle tension along your spine and the nerve pressure that’s the cause of back pain in a vast majority of cases.

  

Add the massage and the heating feature (5 control modes and 2 levels of intensity) and you’re left with one question, “How in the world is the price so low?”

  
read more on amazon

Best recliner chair for sleeping
Merit Glider Club

This Merit is more of classic and it’s a “beast” in terms of comfort and size – it will be a pick of those looking for the best recliner for sleeping as it tilts back to an almost flat position.

The overfilled baffles for the back make it unparalleled in terms of balancing support, comfort and value for money.

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More info - click to expand

The depth and width of the seat is (21.75 x 22.5m x 19.5 “) is at the sweet spot to accommodate most body frames – including people on the heavier side.

The height of the sit is 36 “.

The recline mechanism is classic – meaning that the footrest comes up as you tilt the back. The mechanism is easy to unlock and lock back into place just by pressing your legs against the footrest.

merit recliner gray - voted best recliner for sleeping
  • Comfort 95%
  • Design 91%
  • Build quality 92%
  • Value for money 90%

Bottom line

If you’re aiming to not spend a small fortune, the Merit Glider will exceed your expectations.

We’ve seen products with similar features, frame and material quality cost 250-350 % more than the Merit Glider.

 read more on amazon

Best recliner for tall / big man
The Stallion 500

Big man and women HAVE TO be extremely picky about what they spend their money on.

In these 8 months of putting this guide together – we’ve seen it all. Most products that claim to be heavy-duty had with no clear substance behind the claims…majority not even listing the capacity of the chair.

The Stallion 500 is, hands down, the best big man recliner out there.

Let’s look at the ratings.

merit brown leather - voted top recliner for sleeping
  • Comfort 95%
  • Design 91%
  • Build quality 92%
  • Value for money 90%

What’s what different about the Stallion 500?

The 500 in the name stands for the capacity of 500 lbs and it’s by far the highest we’ve seen.

The Stallion 500 is THE best recliner for a big and heavy person, and the “race” is not even close.

If recliners were people/superheroes, the Stallion would be the Hulk.

 
read more on amazon

Buying in store vs. online

Things have changed dramatically over the last decade. It used to be hard to imagine getting a product like this online, you’d have to try it out first, right?

Most companies adressed that by offering flexible warranty policies that allow you to practically test-run the product at home.

Just as importanly, you have the invaluable chance to see what other owners shared about the quality of the sofas. This part is more important in power-operated models, since the comfort is practically a given with any product with 4+ stars.

Reading the part of power reclining sofa reviews dealing with the reliability and longevity of the electric module is crucial here.

No in-store seller will tell you, “Oh, that one has a problem with the electrics.”

Reference info on choosing a good reclining sofa

For most homeowners, one of the costliest items they purchase is the sofa. This single item of furniture must be durable, attractive, and comfortable. It also has to be ageless, able to “go with the flow” when decorating tastes change.

The choice becomes even more difficult when you are looking for a living room sofa with multiple uses, such as a sleeper sofa. With that in mind here are some guidelines to help you make your ultimate decision.

The info below is provided for reference, just so that you know what you’re looking at and how to read the “fine print” – at any moment you can skip back to the top of the page by clicking the blue button.

Fitting a Reclining Sofa

The foremost requirement is that it fits. It should fit the room, certainly, but it should also fit the person who will be sitting in it. Sit in the chair for at least 5 minutes in the showroom. Your feet should reach the floor to ensure comfort.

  • Does the headrest push your head forward when you are in an upright position? Are there bumps in the padding or upholstery?
  • When the fully extended, does it still fit your body?

There should be proper lumbar support when reclined, as well as support for your lower legs and comfortable positioning of the headrest.

Choosing Foam

Foam density is a major indication of the comfort and durability of any piece of furniture. Foam density also affects how well the cushion keeps its shape. Upholstery foam ranges in density from 0.9 to 2.5. A unit which will see a lot of use, look for a foam density rating of no less than 1.9. This will be more comfortable, and sofa will keep its shape better than foams of lower density.

Frame and Structure

It is really easy to overlook the need for a good structure. Shoppers get caught up in upholstery fabrics, styles, textures, cost, and colors, and forget to look under the sofa.

If possible, look at the underside of the sofa. If the salesperson won’t turn the sofa over, ask to see the print materials for the furniture. Here are some things to watch out for:

“Solid wood” and “Real Wood”

These are designations that can be used for pressboard. This is simply sawdust and wood chips that have been suspended in glue and pressed into the shape of a board. The end result is a weak plank with no wood grain running through it. There is no inherent strength to the plank, so screws will strip out of the board. In addition, this type of board is not strong enough to stand up to the rough life. Pressboard is soft and fragile, breaking down over time.

This part is especially important if you are a heavy person looking for the best big man recliner.

Fasteners

Take a look at the fasteners that hold all of the mechanisms together. Are they plastic or metal? Plastic screws will break from the constant movement of the mechanisms. The screws, themselves, should be substantial rather than small.

Hardwood

The frame of the sofa should be made of solid hardwood such as birch, poplar, or oak. It is more expensive, but at least the sofa will last until you are sick of it, instead of breaking down before you have it paid off. Hardwood runs about $1000 more than the cheap stuff.

Plywood

The next top choice for frame materials is plywood. High-quality plywood is made of layers of wood glued and pressed together. These layers run in alternating directions, and can produce a nice, strong product. If you can see the edges of the plywood, look for “voids.” These are what appear to be holes in the edge of the plywood, and indicate poor quality construction. This is the type of plywood used to frame houses. You want furniture-grade plywood. Good plywood construction will cost about $300 more than the base rate.

Warranty

You have probably had the experience of an item breaking the week after the warranty runs out. But, look for a unit with a warranty, anyway. Look for a warranty that will cover manufacturers’ defects and defects in materials for at least 3 years.

Upholstery

Now that we have the structure chosen for the new piece, let’s start look at the upholstery.

Color

The first thought that comes to mind is that you may want the sofa to “match” something else in the room. If this is the case, most decorators advise you to select something in a neutral color. This will make it easier to change your decorating style or color theme.

Fabric

Most families, these days, move toward durable, washable fabric such as microfiber. This fabric is resistant to punctures and doesn’t scratch.

Printed upholstery fabrics vary in durability and thickness. In general, decorators suggest that you select a pattern that will not dominate the entire room. A small to medium print is preferred. Printed fabric also tends to hide small indiscretions that stain upholstery.

Leather

If you have allergies to either the environment or your pet, you may want to go with leather upholstery. There are many kinds of leather, with different levels of comfort available. Some leathers are so soft they scratch easily and look “used” rather quickly. Others are such thick leather that there is little flex or comfort offered. Do your research on different types of leather so that you will find one that is comfortable yet durable.

There are 8 types of leather used in upholstery. The top 3 picks are:

  • Full Grain Leather: The most expensive, it is the least processed leather. It will be stiff at first, but soften with use.
  • Top Grain Leather: Very similar to full grain, this leather is buffed, making it softer from the outset.
  • Split Grain Leather: When the top layer is removed from a hide to make top grain furniture, the lower section of the hide is used for split grain upholstery. It is harder to the touch and harder to maintain. Don’t confuse the texture with full grain leather.

Special Features

Most models have flaps on the side which you pull out to activate the recliner. Others have levers for the same purpose, or simply respond when you push back on the armrests. Still others have electric motors that recline the chair.

In keeping with the electronic theme, you can also find units with built-in heating pads. Some models have laptop plugs and USB charging stations built in.

There are also the options that have storage built into the arms or center console. You can buy them with cup holders and remote caddies. Others have articulating headrests and offer your choices in reclining positions.

Costs

The costs varies depending on the construction, type and quality of the fabric.

Technically, a sofa has 3 seat cushions, while a loveseat has 2 cushions.

They can may be full-reclining, meaning that the middle seat is also a recliner, or it may be dual-reclining, meaning that only the two cushions on the ends are reclining seats. The two recliners on the ends will be operated with a flap-lever, a handle-lever, or a power switch, while the middle recliner will be operated by pushing on the back of the sofa. All of these features will affect the cost of the sofa.

Power Recliners

This type has buttons on the side rather than levers. They are operated by electricity. Power buttons will add about $200 to the cost of your recliner sofa.

Microfiber Upholstery

The cost of a microfiber full recliner sofa can range from under $1K (as out top pick) to 3K+. These will be manual with the inset flap-lever for operation. Some will have the handle-lever action. More intricate stitching will add to the expense of the sofa. For example, a sofa stitched with the details of an automotive bucket seat will add another $200 to $300.

Leather-Look Upholstery

You can upgrade to a leather-look for $200 to $300 more. However, while modern leather-look fabrics look and feel nice, they dry out and become stiff and cracked after a few years.

Leather Upholstery

It is uncommon to find an entire sofa upholstered in leather, since it is so expensive. Usually, you can find a model with leather seats, but vinyl has been used on the sides. This reduces the expense of the sofa. A sofa made with these materials will cost about $100 to $200 more.

Upscale

Upscale modern reclining sofas that are made with hardwood and metal mechanisms rather than plastic cost between $1,000 and $3,000+.

FAQs about our pick for the best reclining sofa – the Homelegance bonded

glider sofa in living room
How far does it recline?

It’s not full-reclining, it goes back to about 7-10 % incline.

Assembly and size on arrival

It arrives in a big box including all the pieces needed for assembly:

The couch base (about 24 “ wide), backs of the chairs (three of them for the classic size), and the two sides. So, there should be no problem getting it through the width of average doors (30-33 wide doorways and up)

What if I have a narrower doorway?

If your doorway is especially narrow (like 28”), it can still pass. Some of the screws do stick out and you might have to remove those to fit it through.

Is it easy to assemble?

It shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes to assemble – you just slide the parts as described in the instructions.

Is it any good for tall and heavy people?

The leather is PU, so it’s heavy duty and more durable and resistant to damage and scratches. The loft and the density of the foam is solid enough to be comfortable for a people on the heavier side.

However, the frame is not sturdy enough for and we’ve seen reports from heavy people that it gives in fast under weights over 300 lbs.

You can see our pick of the best big man recliner here.

For tall people

We measured the dimensions between the bottom of the seat to the top of the head cushion and it’s about 28 “. The headrest cushions are broad enough to be comfortable for people of different heights, including tall.

If in doubt, measure the distance between the bottom of the seat to the to of the head rest of the couch/sofa chair you have and compare that to the 28 inches we mentioned for this sofa.

Is PU leather real?

No – PU leather is faux. It’s made from splits of the hide and then finish with polyurethane to make it more durable. It performs very well in water-resistance and fading tests. The main advantage of the PU is that any accidents and spills are easier to clean.

And of course, there is the fact that PU items are much cheaper.

How does PU look and feel?

If made well, PU passes the look test…we dare to say that even professionals working with leather can’t tell the difference without examining it closely.

Is the inclination of the loveseat the same as the chair?

Yes, the inclination of all the items is the same as it comes close to a full flat position, which makes it good to sleep on.

Does the loveseat come with ports for USB?

No, there’s no port to be used for plugging in a USB.

What is I have a cat, how does the PU hold against the claws?

PU is a durable material, more so than real leather. But with cats that are aggressive to furniture you are likely to see some scratch marks. It’s very unlikely that your pet can do any significant damage, but as far as the scratches go – yes, you might see some marks with prolonged use.

If that’s your main concern, click here to read our top picks among cat-proof couches and sofas.

How far should I place it from the wall?

The manufacturer recommends about 12 inches of clearance between the unit and the wall. The clearance is needed so that you can comfortably use the inclination angles without damaging the walls or the sofa.

Manual vs. power?

Based on what we’ve seen, it’s the experience of most owners that the manual levers are very easy to use and most of them don’t think that the power option justifies the extra cost.

Final thoughts

It did take more than we expected to complete this guide, but now that we have it, we believe it’s the most complete source of information to help you choose the best reclining sofa for your money as well as the top options for heavy people and those with back pain issues.

The last point we’d like to make is that we update our picks quarterly or bi-monthly, depending on whether we see any significant signals or red lights about changes in quality of the products.

We do it to make sure that what you’re reading stays relevant.

The Sleep Studies Team