Lift Chairs & Recliners: What’s The Difference?

Owning an armchair can be extremely advantageous to you for both comfort and health reasons. When looking to buy an armchair for your home, you first have to decide on whether you want a lift chair, or a recliner.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the difference?” Well, although the two do share a lot of similar qualities, they are also very different in even more ways. Many people aren’t even aware of what lift chairs are. So let’s go over the differences between what each chair offers and what they lack.


You probably have already encountered a recliner or two in an office or home setting. A recliner is an armchair or sofa that allows you to adjust the position of the chair by leaning back and reclining. Recliners are also often referred to as just armchairs, reclining chairs, and loungers.

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The word recliner has been used to describe a type a chair since at least the year 1880. Since they were invented, recliners have been a cherished fixture in many people’s homes. Recliners and sofas are known to relieve stress, relieve pregnancy pain, improve circulation, and even relieve achy joints.

Sitting in a reclined position allows your lungs to expand farther and opens up your airways, allowing you to breathe more deeply. It's no wonder why a recliner might be an excellent piece of furniture to have handy in your home.

Most recliners are very comfortable, and you can choose one that will specifically fit your needs.  A comfortable recliner that you can come home to after a long day of work can be extremely beneficial to both your mental and physical health. Not only will it provide pain relief, but it will provide some mental comfort.

The style and design of your recliner are up to you. The main advantage of going with a recliner over a lift chair is that it’s going to take up a lot less space. Lift chairs can be bulky and hard to move due to their mechanical nature.

Recliners come in many different types as well, some of which include: rockers, push-backs, and two-position recliners. Two-position recliners only have two positions, as the name suggests. Rockers typically have multiple reclining angles and don't have to go all the way back. Push-back recliners tend not to have a built-in footrest. The back of the recliner is the only part that moves with a push-back.

Lift Chairs

Lift chairs on the surface can appear almost identical to your traditional recliner. The main thing that differentiates the two, however, is the fact that in the United States, lift chairs are considered "Durable Medical Equipment" under Medicare Part B.

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Lift chairs are commonly used by those with health and mobility issues such as arthritis and chronic back pain. Those who spend a lot of time in their armchair and might not be the most mobile could benefit greatly from owning a lift chair.

All lift chairs have a mechanism on the underside of the chair which enables the user to lift and angle the chair forward allowing them to get out of the chair a lot easier then they might go with a regular recliner.

It also works in reverse, so that you can sit down without too much effort as well. You bring the chair up, angle yourself and perch on the edge of the chair, still almost completely standing, and then begin the lower the chair back down to a regular seating position.

These lift chairs can be very helpful for someone with mobility issues and any other health issues that can potentially affect their ability to move easily and effectively. Many modern lift chairs include a greater range of features that can be suited to meet your needs best.

Lift chairs, like recliners, also come in many different shapes, types, and sizes. This is where personal taste comes in, and you can pick something that suits you right; whether it be based on aesthetics or comfort. Many chairs also feature additional features such as heating, extra storage components, and even massage features.

Most modern lift chairs will even have a backup battery, so the user is not stuck in their chair in the event of power loss or failure. The battery might only be able to provide two to three additional lifts, but it is still enough to get the user out of the chair in an emergency situation. It’s important not to tamper with the power supply.

So What Do I Get?

Ultimately, deciding on whether to get a regular recliner or a lift chair entirely depends on your situation. Are you just looking for a source of mental and physical comfort or are you someone with legitimate mobility issues who might need the extra support that a lift chair provides? The final decision is ultimately up to you.

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Lift chairs are more expensive than recliners but also offer a lot more utility regarding what they can do. If you have a chronic pain issue or are experiencing complications due to arthritis which limits your ability to stand and sit, you're going to want to go with a lift chair over your traditional armchair.

If you're someone who's just looking for a nice relaxing, comfortable piece to have in your home for the various mental and physical benefits mentioned earlier, and don't necessarily have any problems with mobility, a classic reclining armchair might be more suited to your needs. Recliners provide all the same comfort of a lift chair recliner without any of the complicated mechanisms.

In the end, you are the consumer and the one with the decision to make. Just what is it exactly that you want out of an armchair? We hope this article could help illustrate the main differences between recliners and lift chairs and give you the insight required to make an informed purchase.


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