Buying a Stair Lift for Tight or Spiral Stair Cases
The ideal staircase for fitting a stair lift would be straight and wide with no bends or twists. However, since a great many of us live in houses where the staircase has a bend or even forms a spiral, and since many older houses have especially narrow stairs, most stair lift manufacturers produce models that can be fitted into such homes.
What Constitutes a Tight Stair Case?
The usual minimum tread width for fitting a standard stair lift is seventy-three centimetres, or twenty-nine inches. Stairs with treads narrower than this might pose a safety risk if a stair lift were to be fitted. For the stair lift user there would be a risk of bumping against the bannister or wall, while for other members of the household there would be very little room to walk on the stairs without banging against the stair lift or being in danger of a trip or fall.
Straight Stair Lifts for Narrow Stairs
Many British houses, particularly older properties, have very narrow stairs. Given the space limitations of a narrow staircase, often the only answer is to install a standing or perch stair lift. The advantage of these two options is that it leaves a far wider clearance on the stair tread than a conventional stair lift with a seat. The perch seat will also fold out of the way when not in use.
However, these types of stair lift rely on the ability of the user to be able to stand or perch safely whilst the lift is operation. He or she must also be able to get onto and off the stair lift safely and with ease. In some cases a curved stair lift which runs onto the landing can be fitted to a narrow stairs, but you would need an on-site assessment to see if this option was suitable for your home.
Stair Lifts for a Spiral Staircase
In houses where the stairs are configured in a curve or spiral using a straight stair lift is not an option. A curved stair lift adapted to the shape of the stairs is, therefore, the only answer. The major disadvantage of a curved stair lift, however, is that it is far more expensive than a straight one. In fact, it can work out at two to three times the cost. Perch or standing stair lifts are generally not used on spiral staircases.
An additional challenge of spiral staircases is that they are often especially narrow and may even be slimmer than the seventy-three centimetres (twenty-nine inches) normally considered to be the minimum for fitting a stair lift. Fortunately, however, some manufacturers produce curved stair lifts especially designed for narrower staircases. There are, however, some properties where the spiral of the staircase is so great that it precludes installing any kind of stair lift. Any reputable supplier will happily make an on-site assessment if you are unsure.
For users with a wider curved staircase the choice of stair lifts available is far greater. Consequently the cost of installing one is less than that of those designed for narrower stairs.
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