The Wall Hugger Recliner Sofa Explained

Wall Hugger Recliner Sofa Explained

Not all recliners are made alike; in fact, there are several different types of recliners you can purchase to lounge in. One of the most common is the wall hugger recliner which you can purchase as a chair or a sofa. And yet, the name “wall hugger” sounds a bit counterproductive for a chair that’s supposed to recline backward. So, how do wall hugger recliners work, and how are they different from other recliner types?

Wall hugger recliner sofas are designed to sit on a track that allows the sofa to move forward as it reclines backward. This will enable owners to place the recliner closer to walls since it needs less clearance space behind it, making it ideal for small living spaces and apartments. Of course, this design inhibits other standard recliner functions as well. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the design of wall hugger recliners in detail and compare them to other common recliner types so you can see how they differ. We’ll also list the advantages and disadvantages of this design so you can determine if a wall hugger will suit your living space best. 

How Do Wall Hugger Recliner Sofas Work?

The name “wall hugger recliner” often inspires skepticism in individuals interested in purchasing a recliner because it almost seems to imply it won’t recline as well as other types. On the contrary, wall hugger recliners work just as well as different recliner types, if not better, thanks to their ingenious design. 

Wall hugger recliners can recline by pulling a lever that releases the recliner’s locking mechanism and allows the chair or sofa section to recline backward as the seat moves forward on the track. 

This design differs from other recliners, such as rocker recliners, where the top section reclines directly backward after the lever is pulled instead of the entire chair moving forward. As a result, people will usually purchase rocker recliners if they are trying to fill a large living space versus wall-hugger recliners placed in smaller rooms. 

How Far Back Do Wall Hugger Recliners Go?

One of the most sought-after features of wall hugger recliners is the limited space between the chair back and the wall it requires.

Most wall hugger recliners only require a 5-inch gap between the back of the chair and the wall to recline compared to the 12-inch gap required for other recliners. Because of this greatly reduced gap size, not all wall hugger recliners can recline fully, allowing the user to lay flat, like different designs.  

Of course, not all wall hugger recliners are made the same, so some might require slightly more or less space to recline, and others might be designed to recline fully. Therefore, testing a wall hugger recliner before purchasing is always important to ensure it has all the functions you’re looking for.  

Rocker Recliner Vs. Wall Hugger Recliner

Wall Hugger Recliner Sofa Explained

One of the easiest ways to describe the advantages and disadvantages of a wall hugger recliner is to compare it with another common recliner type, the rocker recliner. Each chair has similar appearances, functions, and unique features that might make it the better choice for your home.

Comparatively, both rocker and wall hugger recliners share features such as thick, padded exteriors for comfort and the ability to recline. However, rocker recliners have the unique ability to rock back and forth but require more wall clearance than a wall hugger recliner. This affects their stability and who would benefit most from this design. You can also purchase them in chair or sofa form.

Let’s discuss the importance of these features and how they can affect other functions of rocker and wall hugger recliners. 

Wall Space

Undoubtedly, one of the most important differences between these two recliner types is how much clearance they need to recline. This effectively translates to how much space they need in a room. 

As we mentioned previously, wall-hugger reclining sofas and chairs are uniquely designed only to require five or so inches of space between the chair back and the wall to fully recline. Because of this, they are the ideal choice for individuals living in an apartment or who want a recliner in a relatively small or cramped living space. 

Luckily, despite needing a fraction of clearance, you can recline fully with wall hugger recliners, as the track it is on will slide your seat forwards as the rest reclines back. 

While some wall-hugging rocking recliners are out there, it’s more common for rocking recliners to take after the general off-track lever-pulling system. Instead of sliding forward as the chair reclines, the entire back will recline backward, requiring around a foot of wall clearance. It would be best if you also had more clearance to rock the chair, a feature we’ll discuss more soon. 

As a result, you’re more likely to find these chairs in much more spacious rooms where they can sit well away from the wall without inhibiting the room’s aesthetic or maneuverability. 

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Rocking Feature

If you enjoy the calming motion you get with rocking chairs but want something more comfortable and substantial, odds are you’ve invested in or considered a rocking recliner. 

These recliners are designed to have moveable parts that allow the user to rock back and forth, a feature other recliners, like wall huggers, don’t have due to their stable frames. Believe it or not, deciding whether you want this feature in your recliner can be important.

For instance, if you find rocking relaxing or soothing, you’ll probably want to invest in a rocking recliner rather than a wall hugger. Parents of infants and highly stressed or anxious individuals tend to find these chairs much more beneficial as long as they have the space for them. 

However, these chairs can often rock because they are more difficult to stand up from since they aren’t as stable. Therefore, many elders or those who need more support to brace themselves as they get out of their recliner will opt for a wall-hugger recliner instead.


Compared to a basic chair, rocker and wall hugger recliners will be incredibly comfortable. That being said, different types of comfort might make one the better choice. 

Because wall hugger recliners are better suited for smaller spaces, they’re typically smaller than a standard recliner. So, if you enjoy having a lot of space in your recliner, this option probably isn’t your choice. 

Another point to consider is that wall hugger recliners often won’t recline fully, so if this is a prime napping location for you, you’ll want a different type of recliner that lets you lay flat with the headrest back and the footrest up. 

Still, a wall hugger is an optimal choice if you’re looking for a cushiony chair to sit in while you watch Netflix in your studio apartment. They provide all of the comforts of a regular recliner in terms of neck and back support without being bulky furniture that takes up most of the room’s space. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! The wall hugger recliner sofa boasts the unique design of sitting on a track that greatly reduces how much room it needs to recline. This allows homeowners to take full advantage of small spaces without sacrificing comfort for practicality. That said, always test and measure your recliners before purchasing to ensure they fit your physique and have all the desired features. If you enjoy rocking and reclining, look into rocking wall-hugging recliners to have the best of both worlds in any space. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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