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How to Adjust a Recliner

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There’s nothing as satisfying as kicking back on a recliner chair after a long day. But before you can enjoy TV or a book on your new recliner, you will need to adjust it, so it meets your comfort needs.

It won’t take long for you to learn how to adjust a recliner.

How to Adjust a Recliner

The process can be broken down into four easy steps:

#1 Clear the Area

Depending on where you’ve placed the recliner, a coffee table, another chair, or other furniture may get in the way of the recliner’s footrest. Before adjusting the chair, get the chair out of the way of furniture, so there are no bumps and subsequent scratches. 

#2 Find the Lever or Buttons

If you have a traditional manually-operated recliner, it will have a lever that enables you to adjust its position. It is typically located on the right-hand side of the chair.

On the other hand, if you have a power recliner, its buttons will enable you to adjust its position. The controls are typically located on the armrest. Some power recliners come with remotes that facilitate the adjustment.

Recliners with leg rest lifted

#3 Sit on the Recliner and Begin Adjustment

Regardless of the kind of recliner you have, you must first sit on it before making adjustments.

If you have a manually operated recliner, pull the lever up, and apply pressure on the recliner’s back to adjust the footrest and drop the back. Keep pulling on the lever until you reach your desired position. Once you let go of the lever, the recliner will be locked in place.

On a power recliner, adjusting the position is as simple as pressing the recline or straighten button till the chair reaches the desired position.

#4 Reset the Recliner Position

When you want to get out of the chair, you must pull the lever and lean forward to reset the recliner’s position. Some recliners come with a release button to make resetting more convenient.

How to Adjust a Recliner’s Tension

You may find that your recliner is too hard or adjust or reclines and straightens up too easily.

To fix this, you must decrease or increase the recliner’s tension according to your needs.

#1 Test the Tension

You must first feel out the recliner’s tension before you begin adjusting it.

If leaning back on your recliner feels challenging, it is because the tension is too high in the chair. Those with a petite build often find the tension too high to work with and must decrease the tension to make using the recliner easier.

In other instances, the recliner chair feels too easy to lean back on and often leans too far back for comfort. Tall folk with a heavy build often find the tension to be too low. They must increase the tension of the recliner to make it easier to work with. The chair should feel comfortable and offer enough support especially for seniors. So adjust accordingly.

#2 Turn the Recliner Over

Recliners have a metal mechanism underneath the seat, which is what makes them adjustable. To adjust the tension, you must access this mechanism, which will require you to turn the recliner over.

The metal mechanism makes the recliner heavy, so you may need some help turning over the chair. It’s also important to remember that you likely won’t get the tension right the first time around.

To turn the recliner over, ensure the recliner is in its original position — the footrest closed and the back upright. Then gently tilt the chair on its back to make the underside accessible.

Recliner being turned over

#3 Find the Adjusting Mechanism

The location and type of adjusting mechanism vary from model to model. But a lot of models position the mechanism at the bottom corner.

Recliners either have wing nuts or thumb wheels on the underside of the chair that enable you to adjust the tension of the recliner. 

However, you must ensure that the nuts or wheels are positioned at the end of the bolt. You must also ensure that the tension spring is connected with the same bolt on the other side of the chair.

#4 Rotate the Wheels or Nuts

If you find the recliner too tough to adjust, you must rotate the wing nuts or the thumb wheels underneath the chair clockwise to reduce the tension.

On the other hand, if you find that the recliner is too easy to adjust and could do with some more resistance, increase the tension by rotating the wheels or nuts anti-clockwise.

While you can use your fingers to rotate the wheels or nuts, if you find them too difficult to rotate, you can use pliers to make the task easier. Make sure that you turn the wheels on both sides of the chair equally.

The best way to adjust the tension is to give the nut/wheel a quarter rotation on both sides before moving the final step.

#5 Test Adjustment and Repeat

After rotating the nuts or wheels as required, turn the chair right-side up again. Sit on the chair, pull the lever, and adjust and reset the recliner to test your new tension setting.

If the recliner is too stiff, turn it over and give the wheels or nuts a twist in the clockwise direction. If the recliner is not resistant enough, give the wheels or nuts a twist in the anti-clockwise direction.

Safety Warning!

Turning the recliner over multiple times can get tiring, which increases the chances of you making mistakes. When adjusting the tension of a recliner chair, make sure you’re wearing gloves and using pliers for a better grip. We also recommend wearing safety goggles when adjusting the tension.

How to Adjust a Recliner’s Pitch (Height)

If the chair is too high for you, your feet won’t touch the ground, making resting on the recliner very uncomfortable.

It’s also possible for the recliner to be too low for you and make your feet — your knees in specific — feel strained.

To adjust the pitch or the height of your recliner:

  1. Turn the recliner over to gain access to the metal mechanism underneath.
  2. Locate the screws on the backside, and loosen them up. Do not remove them.
  3. Remove the screws in the front of the mechanism from both sides.
  4. If you want to lower the height of the chair, grab the frame and slide it forward. If you want to increase the height, slide the frame backwards.
  5. Most recliners have five grooves on the front side of the base. You can place the front screws in the other slots to change the base settings of the recliner.
  6. After you’ve set the pitch to your liking, tighten the screws in the front and the back.
  7. Turn the chair right-side up.
  8. Sit on the chair and check whether the height is right and the problem is solved.

This short video guide illustrates what you need to do perfectly.


Resting on a recliner is not just relaxing; it’s also great for your back. Researchers found that a 135° body-thigh position is the best anatomically and biomechanically sound position.

And now that you know how to adjust a recliner perfectly for your body, you can enjoy the health benefits your recliner has to offer.