How to fix an outdoor recliner chair that won’t close – Easy Tips

Last updated on January 26th, 2022

A recliner chair has become an essential item, especially for people who love spending some time outside or attending outdoor activities. It is an excellent addition to your outdoor collection but might get easily damaged by stuff like rain, debris, or leaves, rendering it stiff. What happens when it doesn’t recline anymore? In this guide, there are simple methods on how to fix an outdoor recliner chair that won’t close.

To fix your outdoor recliner chair, tighten the screws on the back and fix any broken hinges. You could also tighten loose recliner springs and correct the broken cable release mechanism to resolve the issue. Another great solution would be lubricating the chair to ensure easier opening and closing.

How the Recliner Mechanism Works 

A reclining chair is typically a chair that can be adjusted to different positions; sitting and laying down. It usually has three parts: a backrest with a headrest attached to it, a seat pan, and a footrest (or stretcher). 

Recliner chair will be using to demonstrate how to fix an outdoor recliner chair that won't close

The backrest is tilted at an angle with respect to the seat to help you relax by lying flat on your back or sitting upright with feet on the ground. The seat pan moves in tandem with the tilt of the backrest to ensure comfortability.

The footrest is also adjustable so that the feet are either flat on the ground or tilted at an angle. To adjust a reclining chair, simply rest your weight in it and move the back support up or down to find your most comfortable position. Most have lever-operated cranks to make changing positions quick and easy.

Why Your Outdoor Recliner Won’t Close

There are different reasons why a recliner may fail to close. The primary ones include:

  1. The spring tension is too tight, or the chair has been left “open” for long.
  2. One of the springs is broken.
  3. Roller bearings need oil.
  4. The loop handle has broken, or the back support has slipped off its bearings and jammed. Or another part is broken.
  5. Some crucial components like the cam plate are missing.
  6. The screws holding it together have become loose.
  7. Someone has tried to pry it open with a screwdriver or hammer.
  8. It’s been left outside in the rain and is now rusted shut, or dirty so it won’t shut properly.
  9. The springs have stretched, and the recliner will not spring back to its original position.
  10. It has been left open in the hot sun, and heat has distorted one of the arms.

How to Fix an Outdoor Recliner Chair that Won’t Close

Below are simple fixes that can help get your broken recliner chair moving smoothly again.

1. Check if the Screws on the Back of Your Recliner Chair Are Loose

If you haven’t recently tightened the screws at the back of the chair, then they may have loosened over time, affecting its overall functionality. To fix this issue, simply take a screwdriver and tighten up the screws. If they are too loose, you may need to replace them entirely so that they fit snugly once again.

2. Tighten Loose or Broken Hinges

Another problem with outdoor recliner chairs is that the hinges can loosen or even break over time. When this happens, moving the chair becomes tricky. Luckily, you can tighten loose hinges by properly screwing the hinge rod into the chair.

If you need to replace a hinge altogether, it’s pretty simple to do and won’t cost much at your local hardware store. However, ensure you have an even number of screws on each side for great results.

3. Tighten Loose Screws on the Chair Frame / Leg Brackets

If the bolts holding your outdoor recliner chair together have loosened or gone missing, then this is going to affect how smooth your recliner moves or closes.

First, if your chairs use bolts instead of screws, all you need to do is tighten them using an Allen wrench (or Allen key) and ensure they are hand tight. If your recliner chair uses screws instead, then you may need to drill out the screw holes slightly larger, so you can snug them once again. However, don’t make it too loose, or else it will be easy for your chair latch mechanism to slip off when trying to close it. You can apply a little dab of silicone or glue to each screw hole if it’s still loose.

4. Check if the Legs Are Bent

Bent legs are also a common cause of stubborn outdoor recliner chairs. To fix this, take out your handy drill and gently sand down any edges with burrs or uneven portions. If one leg seems more bent than another, then you can drill just inside of it (on top) so that the edge becomes narrower, increasing support. When doing this, ensure you use a light hand to prevent the wood from cracking.

5. Tighten Loose Recliner Springs

If it’s just one loose spring, then properly tightening it should resolve the issue. However, if there are more, then you need to replace all of them. This usually means taking apart each side individually before replacing each spring. Make sure you know which way they should go onto the hooks to avoid losing time in reassembly later. 

6. Lubricate

In some instances, your chair can be jerky or challenging to use because the lubrication on your roller casters needs changing.

To fix this problem, make sure the chair bases rotate freely and then spray some furniture oil onto the wheel surface while covering the entire contact area between the wheels and base.

If you have a double-sided caster, ensure that each side gets a coating as well so that they’re both free-wheeling smoothly before reassembling things. 

7. Check for a Broken Cable Release Mechanism

One common thing with outdoor recliner chairs is that the cable that connects to the release lever on the seatback becomes rust-coated over time. This makes it difficult for the chair to open and close smoothly.

For this problem, remove all the screws connecting the cushion fabric to the frame to help access them from below. Once done, apply just enough silicone or hot glue around each screw hole. Then re-attach your new foam pad onto the chair frame by inserting a few screws through each side of the cushions and into the wooden frame itself.

Next, remove the screws from your seat back to help reach the cable below easily. Remove the rusty bits by pulling out any remaining strands of wire. Put a dab of silicone on top of each hole, then re-attach your new cables with new screws as well. If your chair no longer runs smoothly when opening or closing, replace the cable(s) altogether until you find some that don’t rust easily.

8. Check for Burned Components

Often the springs underneath your cushions (and seat back in single-recliners) usually go flat over time. You can either replace them or just get some strong bungee cords and tie them in place when this happens.

Thermal buildup from sunlight/UV rays may scorch certain components such as plastic casters on recliner chairs, making them hard to rotate properly, if at all. If this is your situation, then replace the broken parts with more durable material like metal.

9. Fix the Loose Latch Mechanism

Outdoor recliner chairs with a weather-resistant latch inevitably rust over time due to moisture and other chemicals in the air. Therefore, if your chair has already rusted, you can fix the latch by covering it with silicone or hot glue. Alternatively, if you have plastic furniture and there is no room behind the screw, then just add some more silicone on top of it and let it dry. Your new sealant should make the interior of your latching mechanism watertight!

If one side seems looser than the other, simply apply a dab of silicone or hot glue to each shaft/bolt and let it set like above.

If the latch does not stay in place, you can wrap a bit of duct tape around it or add more silicone to reinforce it.

How to Avoid the Recliner Won’t Close Problem in Future

By now, we know that you are completely tired of your outdoor recliner chair misbehaving and would never want to experience such again. The good news is you can easily achieve that by following the simple maintenance procedures below:

1. When not in use, always lock your chair back fully or tilt it to its flat position to let the springs relax.

2. Regularly lubricate moving parts (rollers) and grease fittings with a light oil such as sewing machine oil so that they can move smoothly.

3. Regularly check for rust, especially at joints where synthetic material like a plastic bearing is used.

4. Routinely replace bearings if they show signs of wear or oil them if synthetic materials are used.

5. Leave a few of the screws slightly loose to help make later adjustments a bit easier if there is an issue in the bearings or any part.

6. Regularly check for missing screws, then replace them immediately with similar high-quality ones.

7. If your outdoor recliner chair has been left outside in the rain, sun, or snow, lay it flat and open inside. Then let it dry completely and re-oil all moving parts before using again.

8. If some parts have been worn out by heavy usage and are no longer available – make your own using things like 304 Stainless Steel nuts and washers instead of plastic.

9. Don’t weld anything unless you really know what you’re doing and can repair any damage afterward.

10. Don’t mishandle the recliner chair. For instance, avoid slamming it open or close as that only increases the chances of breaking it.

How Can I Make My Recliner Close Easier?

The first thing to do is to get all the screws loose so you can make adjustments later on. Make sure they are all in place and tightened with a screwdriver. If there is any play in the bearings or parts, fix them before tightening everything back, as this will only lead to more problems if left for too long. You should also always avoid putting excess weight on the recliner chair as that could easily damage it.

Are Power Recliners Good for the Outdoors?

Not if they have rubber seals that will quickly disintegrate in the sun (particularly where there is a zipper or Velcro). These outdoor recliners also have steel springs that rust easily when left outside. If you want to use them outdoors, leave them flat and close them only when ready to use. Remove any plastic parts and replace them with stainless ones instead – swap these out regularly as they will eventually seize up anyway.

Can You Manually Close a Power Recliner?

Yes, but only if it’s not stuck and can be opened smoothly. It should then close more easily on its own next time you switch it on – in a few weeks or months. If you can’t open the power recliner manually, do not force it, as that may cause serious injury when the mechanism suddenly releases. When working on any power recliner, always isolate the electricity supply first by removing at least one of the cables connecting to the main plug.


Outdoor recliner chairs are excellent to have around as they can be used both in relaxed and fun environments. Although easy to use, recliner chairs may also be tricky, especially when it comes to fixing them when they won’t close or open. Luckily, this detailed guide has properly explained how to fix a recliner chair that won’t close. Therefore, we are confident that you can now seamlessly fix any outdoor recliner chair that shows this annoying issue. We also hope you consistently follow the maintenance tips we have included in the article. Doing this will help you enjoy using your outdoor recliner chair for a long time and even prevent experiencing any similar issues in the future.