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How to buy the best riser recliner chair

By Hannah Fox

Wooden armrest or upholstered? Waterfall backrest or standard? Find out how to choose the best riser recliner chair for your needs.

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Finding the right riser recliner chair

You can buy a riser recliner chair 'off the peg' in a standard size, or you can get one custom made. Although some furniture stores sell riser recliner chairs, they're more typically sold in independent specialist retailers/mobility stores, online and by phone or mail order. It’s worth doing a little research to make sure you buy the best riser recliner chair for you.

Before heading out to the shops, check our riser recliner chair reviews, as we test things in our lab that you won’t be able to check in store or in a catalogue. While it might be tempting to simply measure up and order a riser recliner from a catalogue or website, we'd always recommend trying before you buy. Then, once you've found the right chair for you, you can order it from wherever offers the best price or most convenient delivery options.

Buying a riser recliner chair built for you

You’ll find that manufacturers tend to recommend that you order a custom-made chair built specifically for your dimensions, rather than a standard model. You should be asked for your measurements and offered an assessment so the manufacturer can match a chair to your body shape. It usually takes six weeks for the chair to be delivered after you've placed your order.

Alternatively, you can book an assessment with an independent adviser who'll take you through these steps, as well as help you choose a correctly proportioned chair. If you have a specific medical problem affecting your mobility, we recommend you seek independent advice. Find a registered professional in your area by searching the College of Occupational Therapists website.

Why not use our recliner size checklist to help you buy the right riser recliner chair for you? You can download and print it out to take with you when you shop.

A riser recliner chair is:
Right for you if you want to change your position in your chair and get in and out independently. You want more comfort - for example, from raising your legs.
Think twice if you’ve got complex medical needs - such as a serious back problem - want to sleep in your chair for a long time, or don’t have much room for it.

Joanna Pearl,
Principal Health Researcher

Getting financial support to buy a riser recliner chair

If you need a riser recliner chair because of a medical condition or to help you live independently at home (ie you couldn’t cope without one), you may be eligible to get one through your local authority.

Different local authorities have different rules around what they'll pay for, but your first step should be to contact your local council and book an assessment. You can find out more on the Which? Later Life Care guide to financing care at home.

Also, although most riser recliner chairs don't qualify for VAT exemption because they're designed for general use, if you have a specific mobility problem and you need special equipment to live independently you may qualify. Visit the HMRC website for more information on VAT relief for disabled people.

If you're unsure of what will suit you best, it's worth speaking to an occupational health therapist to get some expert advice.

Larger riser recliner chairs

It's important to check if there are any weight restrictions for the model you're considering. If the chair isn't built for your weight, the frame may become unstable, so you may be better off buying a special heavy-duty chair. Some manufacturers have chairs in extra-large sizes (often called 'bariatric' chairs) that you can buy off the shelf, or you can order a custom-made one.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that riser recliner chairs are quite big - so you'll need to measure up and ensure you have enough space to accommodate it in its fully reclined position. You'll also need to make sure you have a mains power socket nearby.

Before buying, try out as many riser recliner chairs as you can

Testing your riser recliner chair

Just as you would with any other product, try out as many chairs as you can - there's nothing to stop you walking into several retailers to try out different chairs, even if you decide to have one built for you.

Disabled Living Centres (DLCs) are well worth a visit. These are a network of local centres that provide independent advice. Most are charities and may not sell chairs, but they're a good place to start to understand the range and styles offered, as well as test chairs on loan from manufacturers.

Some retailers may even come to your home, so it's worth exploring that as an option, too.

It’s important to remember that most chairs will feel comfy when you first sit on them, but to be really sure about the comfort level you need to sit in one for about an hour. If your recliner isn’t right, not only will it be uncomfortable but it could cause you physical problems. As that's not very practical in a shop or showroom, the only way you'll really be able to tell is once you're using it at home. It's wise to check that the retailer has a returns policy, so that you can get a full refund should it prove unsuitable within a certain time limit, such as 28 days.

Problems caused by ill-fitting riser recliner chairs

  • If a chair's too high, your feet won't be able to touch the floor, and this will put too much pressure on your back. Your legs could also start to feel uncomfortable.
  • If the chair's too short, your legs won't be fully supported, and the backs of your thighs could start to ache.
  • If the seat's too wide, you'll find there is nothing to stop you leaning sideways, and your back will not be properly supported. You'll also feel less secure in the chair.
  • If the seat's too tight, it will prove uncomfortable and restrictive.
  • If the seat's too deep, you won't be able to sit with your back fully supported down its length. Often, people who've made this mistake stuff cushions behind them, but this doesn't provide even support. You could also find that pressure builds behind the knees - not ideal if you have circulation problems.

A comfortable chair will have support in the right places, including:

  • extra padding at the bottom to support your lower back, and at the top for your head;
  • a leg rest that supports your whole lower leg down to your heel and at the same height as your seat;
  • correct cushioning - soft enough to be comfortable, but not so soft that you can feel the frame of the chair.

Riser recliner chair extra features

Once you've found a comfortable chair that's the right size for you, ask yourself these questions to help you choose the most suitable functions:

  1. Do you want the leg rest to rise automatically as you recline, or would you prefer to control these movements independently of each other?
  2. Do you want a back-up battery that will let you move back to a neutral or standing position if you have a power cut?
  3. Do you want an anti-crush feature to prevent accidents owing to pets or small children getting underneath the mechanism before it moves?
  4. Would you like the seat and back to remain fixed in position as you recline, to prevent your skin shearing?

Now find the perfect riser recliner chair for you by checking out our riser recliner chair reviews.


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