Health & Medical

Everything You Need to Know About Stair Lifts (3 Main Types)


Stairlifts are an increasingly popular choice for seniors to allow them to regain some of the independence that can be lost from a loss of mobility, especially for those who wish to remain in multi-story homes. You’ll want to make sure you know everything to make an informed buying decision.

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There are three basic types of stairlifts, straight, curved, and outdoor. Each of these options has a minimum stair width allowance of at least 36” and can support about 300-lbs as standard. You can expect to pay a median price of roughly $3,000. Price can fluctuate based on the added features needed.

No matter your reason for needing a stairlift, whether it be to maintain your independence or because of medical reasons, there are specific questions you’ll want answers to before you make your purchase. These questions are particularly crucial since you’re making a sizeable investment. Use the following information as your guide to everything you need to know about stairlifts.

Three Main Types of Stair Lifts

As we have briefly touched on, there are different types of stairlifts, each with its unique functionality. The three main types of stairlifts are as follows:

  • Straight Stairlifts
  • Curved Stairlifts
  • Outdoor Stairlifts

One of the most often asked questions regarding stairlifts is whether or not they are an option if you have a curved staircase or one with landings.

The simple answer is yes.

As we continue, we will touch on some of the unique features of each lift and the various restrictions and changes you can make.

Straight Stairlift

Having a stairlift installed on a straight set of steps is the most basic and straightforward process in terms of installation. Straight stairlifts are custom but more standardized, so the cost for the materials and installation is less expensive than the more custom options we’ll talk about later.

A basic, bare-bones option that is just used to transport you up and down the stairs and doesn’t have some of the additional extras can cost around $2,000.

There are a few aspects that can increase the cost of your stairlift.

  • Thinner frame
  • More comfortable seat
  • Color options to match your home décor
  • Higher weight capacity

Some of these options can add more than $1,000 to the standard price range of one of these lifts.

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Curved Stairlift

Curved stairlifts will work for curved staircases, stairs with landings, steps that change directions, and even spiral staircases. All of these options will generally be more expensive than a standard straight stairlift.

It is critical to note that there is no standard package for curved steps. An installer will need to come out and take measurements to get the exact specifications for your stairs. Having the installer come to your house to measure beforehand ensures that you’ll receive a precise lift that won’t fail.

Again, it is vital to be aware that you need a minimum stair width of 36” to install the chair on your steps. While these systems are custom and can install on multiple stair designs, you must have the proper clearance.

If you’re unsure if a chairlift will install on your steps, the installer will be able to address your concerns when they provide you with an at-home consultation.

Just like the options for straight steps, the price can increase based on the add-ons that you choose for your chair. The cost can climb to over $5,000, depending on your configuration.

Outdoor Stairlift

For those of you who have steps that lead to your front or back doors, you’re also in luck. Some stairlifts are made specifically for these areas.

Of course, being outside, weatherproofing is an essential aspect. Outdoor stairlifts can withstand:

  • Rain
  • UV rays from the sun
  • Cold temperatures

These lifts also can be produced for either straight or curved steps. The installer or technician that comes to give you an estimate will discuss all of the options that are available with you and will take precise measurements.

Stairlift Basics

As we continue, we’ll discuss some of the standard features you’ll find on almost all stairlifts.

Stair Lift Basics How Stair Lifts Work



All stairlifts are on a rail system your chair will glide along as you press the directional button for the chair to go either up or down the stairs. Many people are concerned that to install the rail in their homes, they will need to make structural changes.

Luckily, no structural work needs to take place.

Instead, the installer will screw the railing into the stair treads. Being installed through the step means that you won’t have to open any walls or add reinforcement.


Another primary concern that continually arises when thinking about stairlifts is safety. Gearing stairlifts towards the senior community, security is, of course, a top priority. Any stairlift that you find on the market features a seat belt, so you’ll never have to worry about falling out of the chair while suspended on your steps.

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