Stair Lift Requirements
Oddly enough, this is a consideration that is often forgotten when people go shopping for a stair lift. Although a stair lift is designed to help people with reduced mobility, a minimum level of physical capability is still needed in order to use it (even with assistance).
The test is simple: if the potential stair lift user can at least stand up and sit down without too much difficulty, you should be fine. If not, you should probably think about upgrading to a more capable accessibility system such as a wheelchair lift or a home elevator.
Curves And Landings
Despite what you might think from looking at it, the shape of your staircase is rarely an insuperable obstacle to installing a lift. It doesn’t matter how many floors are involved, how many curves, and how many landings. These are all things to note when you start shopping for a stair lift, as they will definitely influence the final price. None, however, should prove a show-stopper from an engineering perspective.
The most important dimension is the width of your stairs. In order to accommodate a lift, stairs need to be at least 28″ wide at the narrowest point – the narrowest point usually being defined by a handrail on the side or doorway at the top. If your stairs are narrower than this, it may prove difficult to fit a stair lift while still allowing the stairs to be used normally.
Space At Top
At the top of staircases, we often find a door that could interfere with the ability of the passenger to get on and off the lift. This top “landing” area, which usually involves a six-inch rail extension above the top step, is important for safety. However, all is not necessarily lost just because you have a door in an inconvenient spot. Some stair lifts have ways to safely accommodate these situations better than others. A good stair lift contractor can explain all the options to you.
Space At Bottom
Landing room is also required at the bottom of the stairs, but in our experience there is typically more flexibility here. The rail normally runs about eight inches beyond the bottom step, but less room is required for getting on and off safely because we’re at the ground level.
We have very rarely encountered a stairway that is “too flimsy” for a lift. Even if your stairs are a bit shaky, the installation of a stair lift rail can actually stiffen the staircase itself, making it sturdier and safer for walking as well.
Contrary to popular belief, a stair lift rail does not bolt to the wall. Instead it bolts to the tread of the stairs. This is an important point to consider when installing a stair lift, particularly if you plan to remove it again at some point. Most carpet doesn’t recover well from being drilled and screwed, though the best grades can sometimes be brushed over after the lift is retired.