How Wide Should a Stairlift Be?

A stairlift should be at least 750mm in width to accommodate a decent percentage of the population. That being said, you must factor in the width of your staircase. If you have a narrow one, consider getting a professional to recommend an appropriate width. 

The following are factors involved in deciding on an appropriate width for your stairlift.

Types of Stairlifts and Where They Can be Installed

There are two basic types of stairlifts; straight and curved, and an outdoor stairlift can be either straight or curved. As their names suggest, straight stairlifts are fitted onto a straight rail and cut to fit the precise length of the staircase, while curved stairlifts are custom-made to fit the shape of a curved or multi-flight staircase. 

Stairlift Dimensions

When buying a stairlift, it’s important to pay attention to a few different dimensions. Examples of some of them are: 

  • Chair width measured between armrests 
  • Depth from wall while the stairlift is both folded and unfolded
  • Rail to wall measured from the outside edge of the rail 
  • Seat height 

How Wide Should a Staircase be to Fit a Stairlift?

The recommended width of a home staircase is between 49-60 inches, but curved staircases usually need to be even wider.  If a staircase is narrow, a smaller stairlift is the best option, but a stairlift can usually be modified to fit the width of a staircase. We will further discuss these modifications later.

How to Measure the Width of Staircases and Starlifts

The width of a staircase is measured starting from the furthest obstruction or protrusion, such as a handrail or other obstructions that may limit the staircase’s width. On most straight staircases, the handrails project 6” from the wall. This number varies with curved staircases, as it will depend on the turns that the rails need to make to get around the staircase.

When buying a stairlift, some manufacturers will offer to come and measure the staircase so that they can recommend a specific stairlift. The stairlift’s width is measured from the wall to the knee from a sitting position while the knees are flexed. 

Straight Stairlift Width

A tape measure can be used to measure the width of a straight stairlift. Note potential obstructions to the path such as protruding handrails, limited head clearance, and doors.

The specialist taking the measurements must ensure that there is enough space on the staircase for the seat to swivel safely. The recommended width for a straight stairlift is 29.5 inches

Curved Stairlift Width

A specialist is needed to measure a curved stairlift. Apart from checking for obstructions and protrusions, the specialist needs to note the narrow parts of the staircase that may not be able to accommodate wider stairlifts. The recommended width needed for a curved stairlift is at least 30 inches. 

Stairlift Modifications for Narrow Staircases

Foldable Parts

If you have a narrow staircase, one of the best ways to deal with this is to find a stairlift with foldable parts. Foldable armrests and foldable seats, for example, will minimize wasted space and allow the stairlift to fit into narrow staircases. 

Perched Seats

If the staircase is too narrow, a perched seat may help reduce the amount of space needed to navigate the staircase. They allow the user to “perch” on the seat with knees partly folded, thus limiting the amount of space needed to go up or down a flight of stairs on a stairlift. 

Swivel Seats – Thyssenkrupp

Swivel seats are rare and expensive, but they offer a solution for narrow curved staircases. 

Thyssenkrup is a German manufactured type of swivel chair that is designed to overcome narrow curved stairs. This seat has built-in software that maps every corner and bend of a staircase. When the seat approaches a corner it swivels, forcing the passenger to move their knees away from the wall to point downstairs. This reduces the space from the wall to the knees so that the stairlift can pass through the narrow space. 

Although this is not a cheap solution, it may be worth the investment.