How To Adjust My Recliner’s Tension?

Were you aware that the reason your recliner’s backseat feels so stiff is that you have not made proper adjustments to it? Did you know that adjusting the tension of your recliner was possible? Almost all recliners come with bolt cams or wing nuts which can easily be removed or loosened to adjust your recliner settings. If you are looking to maximize your comfort experience, then it would be helpful for you to know and understand how you can adjust the recliner’s tension without causing any damage to the chair. 

Adjusting the tension of your recliner can be a lengthy process, especially if you are doing it for the first time. With time, you will become familiar with the steps and perform them with little to no difficulty. However, it is important to know why you are making these changes and whether they are needed.

Increasing the tension of your recliner will cause more resistance which means you will have to push back harder, and it will not recline beyond a certain limit. Decreasing the recliner tension will ease the back seat, and it will recline further for you to relax. 

You might want to increase or decrease your recliner’s tension for several reasons. If you feel that your backseat falls back too easily when you sit in your recliner chair, your weight may be causing it to behave this way, so you might want to increase the tension to avoid this problem. 

On the other hand, some people might find it difficult to recline the backseat when they plop on the chair, which means they have less strength and struggle to bend it back. This situation can become very uncomfortable, and thus, they need to decrease the recliner tension to ease the backseat a little more.

The methods ahead will require the use of some tools and screws, both of which should be kept out of the reach of children. Any part you remove from the recliner should be kept safely to avoid losing them or causing a safety hazard. Some parts that you may remove to adjust the recliner tension can cause serious injuries, so ensure you have safety goggles at hand to prevent getting hurt.

Adjusting recliner tension

The first step to adjusting the tension of your recliner is to test it. Without testing it first, you will not know if you need to increase or decrease the tension. Sit back on your recliner without putting a lot of force but make sure you are leaning back. Does the backseat feel stiff, or is it leaning back way too much? If the backseat feels stiff, you know that the tension needs to be decreased. If the backseat is leaning back way too much, the tension needs to be increased. Since you have now tested the tension of your recliner, it is time to understand how to adjust it. 

Tilt your recliner forward

After testing your recliner tension and deciding whether you want to increase or decrease it, ensure that your footrest is closed, and your backseat is in the upright position. Carefully tilt your recliner chair forward so that the bottom part of the recliner is visible. Make sure that the recliner is resting on top of the backseat.

Find the adjusting mechanism

Once you have tilted your recliner chair, try to locate the adjusting mechanism at the bottom of the seat. Look for the thumbwheels or the wing nuts attached to the frame with bolts. If you cannot find this mechanism, adjusting the recliner at home won’t be easy. You can also read the manual or check out a video on locating the adjusting mechanism. The location of the adjusting mechanism varies from model to model, where some have the mechanism located at the bottom corner. 

Adjusting the mechanism

In this step, you will be working with the thumbwheels or the wingnuts, whichever you have in your recliner’s adjusting mechanism. You might find it easier to turn the wing nuts or thumb wheels with your bare hands, or you might want to put on gloves to protect them. You can also use strong pliers to rotate them if your hands are wounded or hurt. 

Regardless of whether your adjusting mechanism has wingnuts or thumb wheels, they both will be adjusted the same way. If you want to increase the reclining tension, the wingnuts/thumbwheels will need to be rotated clockwise; however, if you want to decrease the reclining tension, rotating them anti-clockwise will solve your problem.

Remember to make these adjustments incrementally since rotating them a lot right away might impact the reclining tension drastically. Adjust the wingnuts in the same direction for both sides of the chair, use quarter rotations for each wheel or nut, and make the same changes to the other side of the chair to keep everything uniform.

Test your adjustments

You now need to test your adjustments to check if the comfort level meets your expectations. You will need to put the recliner chair back in the upright position and sit for testing how well your backseat reclines. You may have overdone the reclining adjustment, or you may have fallen short on the adjustment mark. Repeat the steps above to fix the adjustments again until you are satisfied. If you are satisfied with how your recliner feels right now, you do not need to make further adjustments.

Adjusting/replacing recliner springs 

If your recliner does not have any wheels/nuts, you will have to buy replacement springs to adjust its tension. It is considered best practice to buy any recliner parts from the manufacturer that designed your recliner. These parts will be the best fit in adjusting your recliner. Do not fret if you cannot buy them from the manufacturer; you may be able to find the replacement springs online or at a local retailer’s store. 

While replacing your old springs with the new ones, ensure that you are wearing eye protection as the springs can pop out and hurt your eyes, leading to serious injuries.

Tilt your recliner

Just like with the first process, you need to tilt your recliner forward to see the mechanism at the bottom of the chair. You should be able to find springs where one end is held by tabs or clips at the bottom of the recliner while the chair’s frame holds the other end. 

Remove the old springs

Next, grab a pair of pliers to remove the old springs after locating them safely. Grab one end of the spring with your pliers. This end is the one held by tabs or clips. To disconnect the spring from the chair, twist it and loosen it until it falls. 

The unreleased tension might cause the spring to hurt your eyes, so make sure you wear protective gear to avoid any injury. Removing the second spring end is easy as you can do it with your bare hands. 

Fitting the new springs

In this step, you will fit your new springs in place of your old ones. Grab two pairs of screwdrivers and a few coins for the next part. You might be questioning the instruction in the previous line, but hold on and trust the process. 

You will use the screwdrivers to create space between the spring loops on both ends. To create this space, slide the sharp end of your screwdriver between the first and second loop of the spring on each end. Stretch the spring by pulling the screwdrivers apart from each other until you see spaces between all loops of the spring. 

Now, this is where you will be using the coins. Insert the coins between the spaces you just created by stretching the spring with the help of the screwdrivers. This step will help keep the loops separated. You may substitute coins with any other strong material small enough to slide in between the loops.

In this next step, you will be attaching the spring to the chair. You will find a hole in your recliner’s frame where one end of the old spring was attached. Slide one end of the new spring into this hole in the recliner frame. The other end of the new spring will be attached to the tabs or clips just how it was done before for the old spring. Grab your plier and carefully pull the other end to attach it to the clips.

After you have fixed the spring in its place, remove the coins you placed between the loops to let the spring return to its normal tension. 

Wrapping it up

All that is left to do now is to put your recliner chair in its upright position and test the tension of your recliner by sitting how you would normally want to. If you are satisfied with the way it feels, there is no need to make further changes, but you can always go back and repeat the steps above if you are not satisfied.

Frequently asked questions

Can you adjust the tension on a recliner chair?

Of course, you can. Just follow the steps I’ve mentioned above, and you’re good to go!

How do you adjust the tension on a Lazyboy recliner?

To adjust the tension on a Lazyboy recliner, locate the knob or lever that controls the tension. This is usually located near the base of the chair. Adjusting the knob or lever will increase or decrease the tension on the recliner, making it easier or harder to recline. Experiment until you find the perfect setting for your needs.

Why does my back hurt when I sit in my recliner?

If your back hurts when you sit in your recliner, it is likely because the chair is not properly adjusted to your body. Try adjusting the tension knob or lever to find a setting that is more comfortable for you. You may also need to adjust the chair’s height to find a more comfortable position for your back.

How do you adjust footrest tension on a recliner?

Footrest tension on a recliner is adjusted in the same way as the tension on the back of the chair. Turn the knob or lever to increase or decrease the tension until you find a comfortable setting.

Why does my recliner lean?

Your recliner leans when you use it as the mechanism is leaning too, also known as a bent reclining mechanism. In some cases, poor structure or uneven padding may also contribute to your recliner leaning.

How do you fix a recliner that leans back too far?

If you belong to the heavier side, then it is advisable that you keep the tension a bit tight so that the recliner doesn’t lean back too much. You can do this by adjusting the knob or lever that controls the tension.

How do I clean my recliner?

The cleaning process will depend on the type of fabric or leather. You can buy specific cleaning sprays for leather or contact a cleaning service. 

What is fabric pilling?

Fabric pilling is when the fiber from the surface of your recliner fabric starts to shed. This excess fiber forms pills or small balls on your fabric surface.

How do I remove fabric pilling?

You can use a fabric/furniture shaver to get rid of the pills on the surface of your recliner fabric.

Why does my recliner chair feel like it has a hole in it?

A hole in the seat of your recliner indicates that a spring has broken. Roll your recliner over to better look at the springs attached to the bottom mechanism frame. If you see them hanging or poking through the cover, then it means they are broken. You can replace them or get in touch with an expert.

Why does my recliner seat sink?

If your seat feels like it is sinking, then that means your recliner’s padding and padding support system are compromised. The padding support system is usually made of springs, and when it is compressed over time, you start sinking into your recliner seat. This can cause an uncomfortable feeling and back pain for some people. You should fix this problem by replacing your padding system or having someone do it for you.

Where is the model number of my recliner located?

The model and serial numbers are located under the footrest for most recliners, but this can differ for different manufacturers. 

Where can I order replacement parts for my recliner?

You should always order replacement parts from the manufacturer you bought the recliner from. Only the respective manufacturer will make parts that fit perfectly for your recliner. You may also be able to find replacement parts online for your recliner’s model.

How much does a professional repair cost?

The price of the repair depends on the problem at hand. If it is a small problem like replacing a broken spring and adjusting your recliner’s pitch or tension, the cost will be minimal. But if it is a big problem like repairing a broken frame or repairing a broken footrest, the cost will be more.

How to fix scratches on my leather recliner?

If the scratches on your leather recliner are small, you can use furniture touch-up markers to cover them up. They work well with dark colors, but you should always test a small patch that is unnoticeable before using it on all scratches.

If the store I bought my recliner from has closed, is my extended warranty still valid?

If your extended warranty for your recliner chair was provided directly by the retailer from the store, your extended warranty might not be valid anymore. However, third-party companies sometimes give extended warranties, so if this is the kind of extended warranty you have, you may still be able to claim it. As long as the third party whose warranty you have is still doing business, then your extended warranty is valid.


Contrary to popular belief, recliners are not complicated to deal with. Every recliner model differs in its mechanism, size, and functionalities. You need to understand how your recliner works to alter its settings. Although lengthy, the process, if done right, will yield amazing results without you needing to go to an expert who will end up charging you a lot of money.

The market is filled with repair experts who charge you huge sums of money for a small repairing job like fixing or replacing broken springs, adjusting your recliner’s tension, and the recliner’s pitch. You can do most of these tasks at home with ease. All you need is a proper guideline to follow, and that is what we want to do for you! This step-by-step guide will help you repair your recliner in no time.

Always read the user manual to understand what parts make up your recliner and how they work. Observe safety precautions every time you decide to adjust your recliner’s settings and be patient with the process. Remember, the adjustments you will make are not permanent. You can always go back to repeating the process if you are not happy with your recliner’s tension.

About Karen Miller

As an interior designer, I believe that living spaces should be welcoming and comfortable. When you walk into your home or office for the first time after it's been remodeled by me - all of those efforts are paid off with a sense of comfort in knowing how much care went into making sure every detail was attended too!

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