A woman is removing a recliner

When it comes to moving heavy furniture around, often the best solution is to take it apart, move it to the new location and assemble it together again on the new place.

Dismantling a recliner chair may seem easy and it is if you are following the right steps. Or it can turn out a nightmare if you forget documenting the steps and can’t figure out how to put it back together afterwards.

Many recliners are made almost the same but there are small differences in terms of the support design and types of screws.

A man is dismantling a recliner

No matter which type of recliner you own, the secret is the same. Document each step when taking it apart so you can follow the same steps in reverse order when it comes to putting it back together.

You can use a pen and paper to note down the steps, but the easiest way is probably using your smartphone. Just take a picture of each step, including on the picture the screws or other small pieces you remove.

Another method is using travel labels of different colors and stick them on the parts that belong together. This way you will know that red goes to red, yellow to yellow and so on.

In any case, you will want to collect all the bolts, screws, and small pieces right away and store them safely in a dedicated plastic bag. You don’t want a piece to go missing and only realizing it when it’s time to put it back together.

If you move the recliner chair over a long distance, it can be a good idea to wrap the pieces into protective materials such as cardboard or heavy foil. This is especially important if you have a leather recliner.


How to Remove the back of a Recliner?

a man is moving a recliner

The first step of taking a recliner apart is removing the back. But before you start doing that, make sure you have unplugged it from the electrical outlet if it is still plugged in.

There are 3 main ways the back can be secured to the body of the recliner.

  • Bolted bars
  • Locking levers
  • Locking tab or catch

To remove the back with bolted bars, you need to turn the chair over first, so you can access the back easily. Locate the bars and note the size of the bolts. Attach the proper size bit to a drill and unfasten the bolts.

Put the bolts and bars you remove into a secure bag right away. It’s a good idea to have another person with you to help holding the reclining chair together while you are removing the last bar.

A woman is dismantling a recliner

To remove the back of a recliner chair secured with locking tabs, grab the tabs firmly and press them forward. At the same time, pull the bottom of the sofa backwards, so it unlocks the mechanism. Once it releases, lift the back off the recliner.

You may need to rock it slightly back and forth while lifting if needed. Remember to color code the pieces or take pictures as mentioned in earlier.

To remove the back of a recliner that is assembled with locking levers, start with turning the chair so the back faces up. Some recliners have the locking mechanism hidden underneath the upholstery. Locate the snap or velvet strip if you can find one and unfasten it to expose the locking levers.

Check the frame and the points where the arms join the main body of the chair to locate the metal levers. If you can’t find a way to remove the fabric to expose the frame, check between the seat and the center console.

Once you have found the levers, loosen them one-by-one with your fingers or a flathead screwdriver. After unlocking the levers, return the chair to its original upright position and remove the back panel.


Putting a Recliner Back Together

If you’re moving a large recliner, you can dismantle it into smaller components for easier handling and transportation. Once on the new location, it’s time to put the pieces back together.

It’s not hard at all if you have color coded the pieces or took pictures of the disassembly. Remove the small pieces from their bag and follow the steps you took to take it apart but in a reverse order.

If you have failed to document how you took the recliner apart – and can’t remember the steps – it’s usually best to follow the assembly instructions from the manufacturer.

If you don’t have the original documentation that came with your recliner, you can often find the manual online by searching your brand and model number + assembly instructions.

The first thing you should do is to position the brackets with the back of the recliner until well aligned. This process can take some time and may be a little frustrating.

Once everything has been aligned perfectly, slide the back of the recliner into place. Be sure to lock and properly secure the back with the bolts, screws, or other adjusting levels. 


How does a Recliner Chair Mechanism Work?

In general, there are two types of recliner chair mechanisms. The first type is where you will find a cable system that controls the reclining of the sofa. In this type, you will find a lever which manually releases or lifts the footrest through a cable and the back of the chair tilts backward.

A man is repairing a recliner

Malfunctions that can occur with this type are a result of breaks or loose connections within the cable.

The second type of mechanism is where you find a recliner with an arm situated on the outside. The arm usually reclines the chair’s back and lifts the footrest by just turning a crank.

Some of the issues that can occur in this type are when the screws and bolts securing the arm become loosened.


Do All Recliners Come Apart?

Yes. Reclining chairs contain a mechanism that enables them to recline which needs to be assembled. They will have a way to remove the back panel so they can be transported or moved around easier.

Some modern reclining sofas use electric power to move the back of the seat and the footrest. If you own a power recliner, it is very important that you unplug is from the socket before you attempt to take it apart.

Grant Moore
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