A lot of houses in the UK, particularly older properties, have especially narrow or steep stairs. If you have a narrow staircase you may be concerned that there’s not enough room for a stairlift to fit.
However, most of the best known stairlift companies in the UK offer stairlifts for narrow stairs, which have a purposefully slim design that enables users to perch or stand up rather than sit down fully on a seat. They normally feature a compact design, with arms and footrests that can be folded up neatly out of the way when the lift is not being used. This means there is enough space on the stairs for other people to use the staircase.
On some narrow stairs it may be even possible to fit a standard seated stairlift on a curved track or rail. It is a good idea to arrange for a representative from a stairlift provider to visit your home to assess your stairs and discuss the best options for your particular needs.
he minimum width of stair tread that most standard size stairlifts can be fitted to is 73cm (29 inches). Stairs that have treads narrower than this are considered narrow and it may pose a potential safety risk to install a seated stairlift in such a small space. Users could injure themselves by knocking into the wall or banister, and other people using the stairs may not have enough space to walk past the lift without banging into it or tripping.
Perching and standing stairlifts can be the best solution for people who have difficulty bending their knees or restricted movement in their hip joints which make it painful to sit down. They also have the advantage of reducing the minimum width required for a stairlift to be safely installed on a narrow staircase.
Standard stairlifts take up more space on a staircase as they feature a seat for the user to fully sit down while travelling up and down their stairs. Perching and standing stairlifts, by contrast, do not allow the user to completely sit, requiring them instead to stand up or perch while using the lift to go up and down their stairs.
This type of stairlift can be a great solution for elderly, disabled or less mobile people whose houses have narrow stairs, enabling them to stay independent in their own homes and taking the challenge out of negotiating their stairs. However, it is essential that there is enough headroom for the stairlift user to stand throughout the journey up and down the stairs.
Due to their design, perching and standing models generally have a lower weight capacity than seated stairlifts and require users to be physically able to safely stand or perch for the duration of the journey and get off the lift safely when they reach the top of the stairs. Perch stairlifts tend to cost more than seated straight stairlifts, but not as much as curved stairlifts.
In some cases it is possible to install a conventional seated stairlift on narrow stairs. This option involves using a curved stairlift with a customised, made to measure track or rail that can be lifted up when the lift isn’t being used to allow it to be parked away from the top or bottom of the stairs. This solution leaves plenty of space for other people to safely walk up and down the stairs without the stairlift getting in their way. The downside of choosing to fit a curved stairlift on narrow stairs is the price, with a custom rail or track costing significantly more than one for a standard straight stairlift.
The best way to find out for sure whether it is possible to install a stairlift on your narrow stairs is to get advice from a stairlift expert. Reputable stairlift companies such as Acorn, Companion and Stannah, among others, offer free home visits where a surveyor can come out and look at your stairs to figure out the safest option.
This may involve some minor alterations such as moving or adding a banister or handrail, or fitting a new electric socket. Sometimes a hinged rail or track is the most suitable solution for narrow stairs. The surveyor will be able to use their knowledge and experience to assess which type of stairlift is right for your particular requirements. For instance, if you have trouble bending your knees to sit on a seated stairlift, a perch seat model may be the answer.
By making an appointment for a home visit with a representative from one or more stairlift suppliers you will be able to get their expert advice and suggestions. After discussing your needs and assessing your stairs they will be able to provide you with a free, no obligation quote so you will know exactly how much it will cost to install a stairlift. It is worth getting quotes from at least two different stairlift manufacturers so that you can compare prices and make an informed decision.
The Perch model from Acorn Stairlifts is specially designed to fit on narrow stairs and may be the most suitable option for people who have difficulty bending to sit on a seated stairlift. It is similar to Acorn’s standard 130 seated model but also features a grab rail for safety an ease of use, as users will need to stand up and perch rather than sit.
The perch seat and backrest are padded for comfort and there is a secure seat belt for safety. This model has a maximum weight capacity of 120kg.
Companion Stairlifts offer a perch seat as an option on their 950+and 1000 straight stairlifts, and their 2000 curved stairlift. This means that all of these models can be adapted for narrow staircases. The perch seat has a seat belt for support and comes in a choice of six different upholstery colours to coordinate with your decor.
The Sadler model from Stannah Stairlifts has a slimline design that makes it suitable for narrower stairways. It features a saddle-style tilting seat that is designed to take the weight off a user’s legs. The seat moves up and down with the user to help them safely get on and dismount from the lift. For safety there is an immobiliser seat belt.