There are many homes that have particularly narrow or very steep stairs. Staircases with unusual configurations are more common in older houses, of which there are plenty in the UK. Whether your narrow staircase is straight or curved, you may think it is not wide enough to accommodate a stairlift.
The majority of standard size seated stairlifts require a minimum stair tread width of 73cm (29in) in order to be fitted safely. On stairs with treads narrower than this a standard stairlift could cause an injury or accident. Because of the limited and tight space, users are at risk of injuring themselves on the wall or banister. Other people walking up and down the stairs would have to squeeze past the stairlift and risk knocking into it or tripping.
Fortunately a lot of stairlift suppliers provide slimline stairlift models that are designed for use on narrow stairs where space is at a premium.
Instead of having a chair seat, some stairlifts for narrow stairs have a perch style seat that users perch on or stand against rather than sitting down in a chair. Perching and standing stairlifts can be installed on both straight and curved stairs with narrow treads where it wouldn’t be safe to fit a seated stairlift.
A perch stairlift takes up less room on the stairs than a standard seated stairlift. They usually have folding arms and footrests that can be folded away to create more space on the stairs for other people when the lift is not in use.
Perching and standing stairlifts can also be installed on wider staircases and aren’t exclusively for narrow stairs. They are often recommended for elderly or disabled people who have restricted movement in their joints and find it difficult and painful to bend their knees and hips to sit in a chair seat.
Because the user has to stand rather than sit, it is important there is adequate headroom along the whole length of the stairs for them to travel safely. The user must have the physical ability to perch safely while the stairlift moves along the staircase and they must be able to dismount safely at each end.
Perch and standing stairlifts usually have a lower weight limit than seated ones, so may not be an option for larger people. In that situation a curved seated stairlift with a heavy duty motor may be a possible alternative if space allows.
Some stairlift companies offer the option to fit a perch seat to one of their standard models. Generally the cost of a perch stairlift will be more than a seated straight stairlift, but not as much as a curved one that will require a custom made track.
Sometimes where it would be better for the user to be able to sit down properly, a compact seated curved stairlift can be installed on narrow stairs using a curved track. As with all curved stairlifts, the track will need to be made to measure. It will need to be customised so that it’s hinged. This enables it to be folded up out of the way when the stairlift is not being used. This means the carriage itself can be parked away from the top or bottom of the stairs.
Installing a curved stairlift on narrow stairs in this way means the stairlift doesn’t cause an obstruction for other people climbing the staircase. However, because of the extra work involved in manufacturing a bespoke track, prices of curved stairlifts are more expensive than those for straight ones that run on readymade tracks.
To learn what would be a feasible solution on your narrow stairs, you will need to arrange a free home survey with a stairlift expert from a reputable company. They’ll be able to take measurements of your stairs and determine which stairlift model, if any, it would be possible to install. In order for a stairlift to fit it may be necessary to make alterations. For example, it may be necessary to move the banister or add a handrail.
When they visit your home, the representative from the stairlift company will be able to discuss your needs and use their experience to advise the best solution for both your physical requirements and the layout of your stairs. They will be able to provide you with a free no obligation quote so you will know the exact price a stairlift will cost you.
If it is possible to install a stairlift on your narrow stairs, it will take the struggle out of climbing the stairs and give you the freedom to use both floors of your home.