Stairlift Installation & Space Requirements For a Building | Stannah

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Stairlift Requirements: What You'll Need to Get a Stairlift Installed in Your Home


It may come as a surprise that you don’t actually need extensive building work or heavy construction to have a stairlift installed. Stairlifts don’t require remodeling, but there are a few things we look out for when surveying your staircase. Here, you’ll learn more about our stairlifts, our process and the factors that determine stairlift feasibility. Let’s get started!

Stairlift Feasibility: What You’ll Need to Get a Stairlift Installed

A Nearby Power Outlet

stairlift requirement - outlet at the top of the stairs

To power your stairlift, you’ll need a nearby outlet, usually within 10 feet of the top or bottom of the stairs. This charges the batteries and powers the stairlift, also ensuring that it will continue to run during a power outage. We’ll provide trunking and make sure that all wires are buttoned up and neat, but you’ll need to hire an electrician to install an outlet if you don’t already have one near the stairs.

stairlift requirement - outlet at the bottom of the stairs

Adequate Stair Width

stairlift requirement - staircase width

The minimum staircase width needed for a stairlift installation depends on the model you choose and the type of stairs you have. We’ll also have to account for any furniture or obstructions on the staircase. Typically, straight stairlifts have a minimum staircase width of 28”, while most curved stairlifts need at least 30″ of width (depending on the shape of its turn). These width requirements measure from the furthest obstruction, meaning that handrails, furniture moldings and other obstructions all reduce your staircase width.

If you’re worried about the width of your stairs, don’t be. We have stairlifts designed especially for narrow staircases. The Sadler has a perch-seat, which means you are almost standing as you go up the stairs and the Siena has a curved back, so you sit further back in the chair. That means your knees don’t knock against anything on the way up. If you can stand on your stairs, chances are we can fit a stairlift on them. The seat, arms and footrest fold up easily when not in use.

Sufficient Head Clearance

stairlift requirement - staircase head clearance

While head clearance isn’t usually an issue in modern homes, it is something to look out for on basement stairs. If you bump your head on the ceiling when climbing your stairs, we might have to take some measurements. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that head clearance will be a concern. Either way, don’t worry! This is one of the very first things we check and it’s likely that we’ll find a solution, regardless.

Space for the stairlift to start/finish

No matter what shape your stairs are, your stairlift will need space to finish at the top and bottom of the stairs, so you can get off safely. Typically, a standard rail sticks out about 18″ from the bottom step, so you’ll need to consider this if you have furniture, a doorway or an open hall at the bottom of the stairs. Fortunately, we have plenty of workarounds.

Door at the bottom of the stairs?


stairlift requirement - door at the bottom of the stairs

While furniture can be removed, doors and open walkways require a more direct solution. If you have a door at the bottom of the stairs, the optional retractable rail lifts up and out of the way, only taking up space when the stairlift is parked at the bottom of the stairs. Curved stairlifts can be fitted to either side of the stairs and can wrap around banisters to create  extra space.

Door at the top of the stairs?

stairlift requirement - door at the top of the stairs

A door at the top of the stairs is even easier for us to handle. Your Stannah stairlift specialist will measure and make sure that there is sufficient space for the chair to swivel at the top of the stairs, so you can get off safely. If there is a door at the top of the stairs, we’ll adjust the stairlift accordingly, making sure that it can complete its run unencumbered. If necessary, we’ll fit a ball catch to the door, so that it will be even easier for you to swing open.

We work with (and around) what’s there

Which Side of the Stairs?

Depending on the architecture of your stairs, you may need your stairlift on one side or the other. In most cases, we can fit your stairlift on either side and, after seeing and measuring your stairs, we’ll advise you on which side works best.


Handrails should be fitted to the wall opposite the stairlift. If you have a handrail that is in the way of your stairlift installation, we’ll remove it for you. But, you’ll need a licensed contractor to reattach it.

Carpet or Hardwood?

Another common question with an easy solution: both carpet and hardwood are perfect for a stairlift. We can install on all sorts of carpet and hardwood, even working around runners. Regardless of what’s covering your stairs, chances are, we can install a stairlift on them.

Stair Tread Materials

Our stairlifts can be installed on almost any type of stair tread. From cement to wood to metal, you won’t need to alter your stairs at all. The feet of the rails are the only things that attach to your staircase. If you decide later that you want to remove your lift, all you’ll be left with are a few tiny screw-holes on some of the steps. They’re easy to repair, even if your stairs are hardwood. We recommend golf tees, they’re just the right size for plugging screw-holes. There might be a little bit of sawdust left over from drilling the holes, but we’ll always clean that up before we leave.

*Outdoor stairs made of a composite material such as Trex. Not sure what you have? We’ll advise you.

install a stairlift

Why don’t stairlifts require remodeling?

Stairlifts don’t require remodeling because they are installed on the treads of your stairs, not the wall.

While many people think that stairlifts attach to the wall, in actuality, they attach to the stair treads. This means that an adjacent wall isn’t necessary for installation. Stair treads are made to carry a lot of weight, so you won’t have to reinforce them or make any changes ahead of time. Your stairlift will fit what you already have. We measure them accurately and install the rail so that your chair will travel close to the edge of your stairs, typically not taking up more than about 7½” (19 cm) of the width of your stairs, when folded (although this might differ on curves or if an obstruction protrudes from the wall).

Next Steps

Set up an appointment for measurement

Unsure about anything above? Give us a call now to book your home assessment. We’ll make sure that your stairs are suitable for a stairlift (chances are they will be) and take you one step closer to feeling the freedom and independence a stairlift can bring.

Quick Delivery, Efficient Installation.

Once you’ve placed your order, we’ll set up a convenient time for installation. Our friendly technicians will arrive on time, install your lift, make sure you know how to use it and be on their way. Straight stairlifts take only a few hours and curved stairlifts take around half a day to install.

stairlift installation without building work


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