Soft Recliner vs Firm Recliner: Which is the Best Option?

In our hectic lives, the importance of comfort can’t be underestimated. The choice of the right furniture to relax on can’t be considered an afterthought. After all, it’s one of the factors that impact your physical and mental well-being. The problem is comfort is a very individual thing. What you consider comfortable might not be so to others. This is why the choice between soft recliner vs firm recliner might not be as obvious as it seems.

Here’s some information to help you make an informed choice.

Soft recliners: pros and cons

A soft recliner chair might seem like an obvious choice. In our minds, softness often equals comfort and the best relaxing experience. However, it might not always be true: excessive softness might also mean a lack of proper support. This might lead to back pain and a number of costly health issues. 

Soft recliners are great as a more traditional choice for an informal environment. If you don’t mind dozing off on your recliner chair after a long day’s work, this might be a good option for you. But if you want to stay focused and collected, buying a firm recliner chair might be a better idea.


  • very comfy;
  • great traditional option for homes.


  • don’t offer sufficient back & lumbar support, which might lead to back pain;
  • cause sleepiness;
  • not the best for formal environments. 

What’s good about firm recliners? 

The problem with firm recliners is that many people tend to associate “firm” with “hard”, “rigid”, and “uncomfortable”. But the truth is firm recliners don’t deserve their bad reputation. In many cases, this type of the best recliner chair can be much comfier than its soft counterpart. This is thanks to the fact they are usually structured to provide better support for your body. When sitting in an extra firm recliner chair, you can feel your neck, shoulders, back, and lumbar areas well-supported. This means that it allows you to instinctively relax your muscles.

Besides, the chance that you get extremely drowsy sitting in a firm recliner is pretty low. The bottom line is this: the best firm recliner chairs are comfortable, relaxing, and great for modern formal spaces.


  • much more comfortable than they look;
  • provide great lumbar support;
  • great for offices and any situations where you need to stay focused & alert.


  • not the best choice when you want to take a nap after a hectic day.

So which option is the best for you?

The answer to this question largely depends on your personal preferences and needs. Do you need a comfy chair to sink into and maybe nap in after a busy day? You might want to choose a soft recliner in this case. Do you want a chair that’s comfortable but doesn’t make you nod off? Buy a firm recliner chair. A firm recliner might also be a great option in case you have back issues. 

What Other Things Should You Look For In A Recliner?

By now, you may have decided which type of recliner is the best for you – soft or firm. However, that’s not the only thing you should consider when choosing a recliner. Here are some other factors that will help you make the best decision:


First and foremost, you need to make sure that the recliner you choose is the right size for you. It won’t be comfortable if it’s too big or too small. As a general rule of thumb, petite people should choose chairs that are 39″ wide, while larger individuals need to go with something greater than 45″.

Plus, take measurements of your room and compare them to the dimensions of the recliner. You want to make sure that it will fit in your space and that you’ll have enough room to move around it.


You have many options – leather, microfiber, vinyl, cotton, suede, and so on. So which one should you choose? Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, leather is durable but can be expensive. Microfiber is stain resistant but may not be as durable as leather. It really depends on your needs and preferences.

Additional Features

Depending on the model, recliners come with a plethora of additional features that can make them even more comfortable and convenient. While some models have heat or massage functions, others come with a built-in tray table or USB ports. However, note that the more features, the higher the price. Consider what features would be most useful to you and ensure that the model you choose has them.


Finally, you need to consider the price. Recliners can range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand. It depends on the brand, materials used, and features included.


1. Are firm recliners the best for back problems?

Generally, firm recliners’ internal structure allows for better support of your body. This means it helps relieve the tension in your muscles and this way, gets rid of pain and stress. And yet considering firm recliners as the only solution for your health issues is the wrong idea. While they might be helpful, consulting a doctor might help you find other solutions.

2. Are firm recliner chairs comfortable?

It depends on what “comfortable” means for you. If all you want is to sink into the soft embrace of a comfy chair in the comfort of your home, a soft recliner would be a better pick. If you want to feel that tension in your back lift, choose a firmer option. 

3. Are soft recliners bad for your back?

The problem isn’t so much about recliners as about the position you choose to sit in them. Slouching and slumping can’t be good for your back no matter what chair you sit in. Spending a lot of time in a poor position every day can cause serious back problems. However, the fact that soft recliners normally don’t provide proper support for your body often exacerbates the problem. 

4. Do recliner cushions get softer over time?

Yes, they do. New chairs fresh from the store might feel somewhat stiff. There’s a way to fix that because foam or other kinds of filling get softer as you use your chair daily. You can make that process faster by kneading the cushions a bit to soften them up. 

In case your recliner cushions get too soft and lose their shape, you can replace or restuff them.

5. Is it healthy to sleep in a recliner every night?

There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in a recliner regularly. In fact, people with sleep apnea or back pains, pregnant women, or those recovering from injuries or surgery might find sleeping in a recliner chair beneficial. 


The soft recliner vs firm recliner dilemma is a matter of personal choice. It depends on what can deliver the best relaxing experience to you personally. The good news is there’s no lack of options when it comes to choosing either type. If a soft recliner is way too blobby for you, consider restuffing the cushions with a firmer material. If a firm recliner feels too hard, replace the cushions with softer alternatives. Consider what you need a recliner for. Try different options at your local stores. Once you learn more about your options, it will be a very easy choice.

Last updated: 25/07/2022

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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