What to look for when buying a Recliner
You know, I just spent a significant amount of time researching online ‘What to look for when buying a recliner?’ I found many websites that gave great information regarding what to look for in your quest. Unfortunately, many of these were from overseas companies and general review sites or information sites.
First off, I will admit that I am the owner of Devlin Lounges. I have been involved in the furniture industry, and in particular sofas, chesterfield sofas and of course recliner suites for almost ten years. We have sold a large range of recliners, both leather recliners and fabric recliners, for this entire term. I have dealt directly with both international recliner manufacturers and Australian manufacturers and imported lounge wholesalers.
What did I find?
Well, as you are probably aware there are some large differences in quality and reclining mechanism, and most importantly price, that will affect your purchasing decision. Australia is in a privileged position in that we have some fantastic locally made recliner chairs, and we are situated close to Asia (a major manufacturing hub), and therefore can take advantage of a huge range of imported recliners.
What is the difference? We have both imported and Australian manufactured products in our showroom and I find it difficult to find any fault with our Australian manufacturer – the quality of the product they turn out is superb, unfortunately the cost for the consumer is higher, but they do get a great product. It is really up to the individual if they are prepared to support ‘Australian made’ product. We all like to support Australian jobs, but the issue is that the range of recliners from our Australian suppliers are relatively small compared to what we can order from overseas, and leather recliner suites prices from other Australian manufacturers are too high for our customer base. Being manufacturers, they want to ensure they can sell their product, so to keep their range smaller and reduce manufacturing costs by having more throughput of the one model makes sense.
This is no different to any overseas manufacturer, it is always cheaper to be able to turn out one model than it is to make twenty different models for each order. That is one of the reasons that recliners made in China are so inexpensive, the manufacturers are happy to deal with importers if they can provide full container orders of one or two products, in a couple of colours. The reduced manufacturing costs, combined with the rate of exchange for the currency, and also lower labour rates makes the idea of purchasing from a large manufacturing nation like China very appealing.
The compromise is that there is little flexibility in design, quality control (QC) can be a challenge, and the colour range available can be small. That said – you can get get a cheap recliner. As with any product, and any factory producing said product, there can be huge differences in quality from container to container, and manufacturer to manufacturer. That is why, if you are buying an imported recliner from a retailer you should look at the warranty terms, the history of the retailer, and accept that you will not get the flexibility you may get from other retailers who either manufacture their own recliners, or import directly from smaller overseas manufacturers that may have more flexibility in design, colour range and type of cover (either leather or fabric).
Are you going to Buy a Recliner?
Commonly most people who come into the showroom are interested in comfort, and why shouldn’t they be? Thats the reason you purchase a recliner chair, for comfort! The second most common issue is space. There are many large ‘boofy’ recliner chairs that seem to take over an area. The third most common discussion point is quality and warranty terms. Of course delivery time is also high on the agenda. And finally, why is it cheaper to buy a recliner online? I will attempt to give you some more information on each of these common questions.
Define ‘Comfortable Recliner’ and it will be different for everyone. What one person finds comfortable another person finds too soft, or hard. With recliners, in particular, if comfort is high on the list of what is non negotiable, you really should be trying as many recliners as you can to get your idea of comfort. One point to be made is that generally, the softer it is initially, the faster it will soften. Whereas, if you buy a firmer recliner it will soften, but should not fully collapse for a much longer period. It is a fact that all seats will soften over time. Where you can control this decline is at the point of purchase, when you choose either a harder or softer seat cushion. Choices will generally range from springs through to soft foam. There are different guage springs, and there are different densities of foam. It is easy to work out that the better the guage of spring or density of foam the more expensive the chair.
Comfort also has a lot to do with back rest height, the length of the bottom seat cushion, and the height from the ground. These are reliant on design, but with seat height most recliners will sit about 440mm to 480mm from the ground. We have had customers in the past who have built a timber frame under the chair to ‘lift’ it a little. We would suggest it is better to look for a chair that is more suitable than bring another structure under the chair and possible compromise the integrity of the chair. The other option, if you are having trouble getting out of the chair is to purchase an electric lift recliner.
Always consider the type of arm in the design. Is it firmer so you can find it easier to push yourself up, or softer, which might add a bit of comfort but make it more difficult to stand.
Back cushions are normally made with ‘soft fill’ which can compress over time, or foam. Soft fill will compress, but it is worth asking the retailer if you can refill the back cushion as it gets older. You will generally find a foam back cushion on some of the slimmer, more modern designs. These may be more difficult to replace as they get older and compress.
Small Recliners and Space issues
If space is an issue and you are looking for a smaller recliner be prepared to compromise. Most smaller recliners will either take space off the seat (with a wider arm), or reduce the arm size and have a larger seat. i think most customers expect this anyway. A smaller recliner will be anything from about 700mm wide to 900mm wide – again, this comes down to preference and you idea of a small recliner. Our most popular recliner seat is about 500mm wide, but go as small as 440mm and as high as 600mm.
Recliner Quality and Warranty Terms
As they say – ‘You get what you pay for’. If a retailer is confident in the quality of their product they may use warranty terms as a selling tool. What does this mean? Well, they may offer a 10 year, 20 year or lifetime warranty on their product. This is great, but also be aware you may be paying extra for this peace of mind and the cost may be in the initial price of the lounge, or on occasion you may have to pay extra for an extended warranty. Most warranties cover ‘manufacturing issues’ and do not cover normal wear and tear. I think it is pretty obvious that these issues may be open to interpretation after many years of use, so the ten year or lifetime warranty may not be as useful as originally expected.
You may consider that the best option is to purchase your lounge from a reputable supplier that has a reasonable warranty period that will cover any manufacturing defects within a reasonable time. You will probably find you are purchasing the new recliner sofa at a much more competitive price. I have found that any manufacturing defects will show themselves in the first few years of use, so the benefit of longer warranties is null and void anyway.
Lead Times for Recliners
There are retailers that will keep product in stock, but it is becoming more common for them to order in as the customer orders. Or, they will order a container of product from overseas and pre sell this to customers. Devlin Lounges has so many models, configurations and colours that it is impossible to keep exactly what a customer wants if you want to offer flexibility in design and colour.
Major retailers will generally offer a small selection of configurations and colours for you to choose from, while there are other retailers that import or buy direct from Australian manufacturers that will have a lot more flexibility.
Lead times for imported recliners range from as little as 6 weeks to as much as 12 – 16 weeks depending on the stage of the order cycle.
Why do lounges bought online cost so little compared to other ‘Bricks and Mortar’ Retailers?
The main reason online is so cheap is because the businesses are not carrying stock, do not have to worry about large expensive showrooms, do not have sales staff to employ and generally do not have the warranty terms that Bricks and Mortar businesses have to carry.
Many online retailers sell cheaply, but if you look deeply at the product specifications the quality on occasion is not as good as most traditional retailers who pride themselves on the quality of the product. A traditional furniture retailer has stock on the floor to show customers so they can feel the comfort and examine the quality of the sofa or recliner. Online retailers, even thought they specify the specifications of the product do not have to worry about carrying this stock for their showroom.
The obvious reason online has to be cheaper is because the prospective customer is buying the product sight unseen, so the biggest advantage is price to compete with traditional retailers. If someone is looking for a cheap modern look, or are unable to find what they are looking for in their area (i.e. country areas) online purchasing is a great strategy. Furniture retailing, and lounge and sofa retailing in particular is slowly being dragged into the online market as more customers search, and buy, online.
Of course, more people every day are doing their research online before heading out to the retailers to see and feel the product before purchasing.
I hope this article has given you an insight into buying a recliner chair or recliner suite for your home. It pays to look around at options apart from the larger retailers because the smaller retailers may be able to offer you flexibility in configuration and colours. In the end, it is up to you what you are prepared to spend and what quality you end up getting in comparison to what you could have gotten at other retailers. Is buying online an option to save money? Or is the comfort and peace of mind of having seen the recliner and sat in it more important?
If you have any questions please let us know, and we will be more than happy to give you our honest opinion.