Buying  a Stairlift - Beginners Guide


It can be quite daunting when buying a stairlift so it is worth doing some research before you start getting quotes.  This way you will be in a position of knowledge and less vulnerable to the unscrupulous dealers and cowboys - they do exist.

On each page of our website we have put links to relevant advice, please read any that you feel relevant to you and call if you have any questions.  Below is a basic introduction to the types of stairlift available to you if you are looking to buy one.


Types of Stairlift

Stairlifts can be divided into two main types.  Those for straight stairs and those for curved.  They are completely different machines, the curved being more complex and more expensive.


Straight Stairlifts

If you have a nice simple straight stairway then you are in luck.  Straight stairlifts are relatively cheap, simple and reliable and worth choosing over a curved one wherever possible.  We can sometimes fit a straight stairlift where you might think a curved one is needed.  If you have one step to the side at the  top or the bottom of your stairs then a straight stairlift can sometimes be used.  This might mean some modifications to your stairs or negotiating one step before mounting the stairlift but it could make the stairlift far more affordable.


Curved stairlifts

If you need a curved stairlift the rail will be custom made to fit your stairs.  As the stairlift travels around the corners the gradient changes so the chair needs to include a levelling mechanism.  These are the reasons that a curved stairlift is more expensive than a straight one.

Curved stairlifts can be further sub divided into two types,

  • Electronic levelling     -  Complex and can be expensive if they go wrong.   The rail is simpler and less obtrusive and some models are so clever that they can be fitted where other types just wont work.
  • Mechanical levelling    -  Simple and reliable (we like that)   The rail is a bit more obtrusive but the simplicity of the machine means they are generally more reliable. 


Stairlift Options and Extras

 All stairlifts can be supplied with a range of options and extras to suit your home and your personal needs and preferences.  The main options are explained below:


  • Power Swivel Seat      Most stairlifts now come fitted with a swivelling seat.  This is provided so that the user can swivel round at the top of the stairs and climb off the stairlift forward onto the landing.  To operate the swivel, the user needs to operate a release lever and swing the seat around by using their legs or pulling on the banister with their arms.  If you feel you might struggle to swivel the seat yourself, then you might want to consider a powered swivel.  When the stairlift reaches the top of the stairs, the seat will swivel itself, with you on it, into the correct position to climb off the stairlift safely.
  • Powered/Linked Footplate.     On all stairlifts now, the seat, the arms and the footrest all fold up neatly.  If you are the only person in the house, for convenience,  you might want to leave them all down.  If you need to fold them up however and struggle to bend down to lift up the footplate you can have the footrest powered, so it lifts itself, or linked to the seat so as you fold the seat the footrest comes up too.   Some stairlifts have this as standard on others it is an option.
  • Hinged Rail.      If the lower end of the stairlift rail is going to obstruct a doorway, project into a walkway or cause a tripping hazard then it must be fitted with a hinge.  The last section of rail is hinged and can be folded up out of the way when the stairlift is not in use.   This hinge can be manual, motorised or fully automatic.
  • Stand/Perch Seat      It is better to sit on your stairlift but if you have a problem sitting or bending your legs then you might need a Stand/Perch stairlift.   This type of seat allows you to stand on the footrest and lean/perch against a padded support.  It also has a barrier arm on the down side for safety and support.
  • Heavy Duty Stairlift     Most standard stairlifts can carry up to 18 or 19 stone.  There are heavy duty models available if you weigh more than this.