Stairlift Models: What's the Difference Between Each Stairlift Type?

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Curved vs Straight vs Outdoor Stairlifts: What Are The Differences?

At Stannah, we make straight, curved and outdoor stairlifts, tailored to suit you and your home. Which is the right type of stairlift for you? It may not be as obvious as it sounds, so read our handy guide to find out.

Straight Stairlifts

Curved Stairlifts

Outdoor Stairlifts


A straight staircase will need a straight rail, and a staircase with bends, curves or a landing will need a curved rail. An outdoor staircase will need an outdoor stairlift. Each staircase is different, so each stairlift needs to be adapted to fit your personal needs.

When you have your home visit, our consultant will measure your staircase precisely and talk you through your options. It may not be as straightforward as you think, as we have to look at doorways, radiators, windowsills and where the chair will sit when it’s not in use.

Don’t worry about that though. The chairs of all our models fold away neatly so they barely take up any space.

The big difference between our stairlifts models is the rail. To go around a corner, you need a special rail that bends at exactly the same angle as your staircase, so that it is the perfect fit (and takes up less of your stair space). Whether your stairs are curved, spiral or have a landing half way up, you’ll need a curved stairlift to whisk you all the way up.

The only things you need for a straight lift are a staircase with no bends or turns and a landing at the top and bottom of your staircase that will mean you can get in and out of your chair safely.

For straight, curved and outdoor rails, the rail attaches to your stairs, not the wall. That means there’s no building work, just a few little holes are drilled to attach the feet to your stairs and you’re all set.

Straight stairlifts

Stairlift rails for straight stairs

A straight stairlift can make your staircase usable again.  

Straight stairs are stairs that don’t turn, bend or have a landing in them. If you just have a straight-run staircase in your house, a straight lift is exactly what you need to make them accessible again. We just need to make sure you have enough landing space at the top and bottom of your stairs to allow you to get in and out of the chair safely, and you’re good to go. Our sales advisors walk you through the whole process during your free home visit, so by the time they leave, you have no doubts about which stairlift is right for you. 

Our straight rails are discreet and compact. That means other people still have room to use your stairs comfortably, and with your new stairlift, you do too.

What are the rails made of?

Our straight rails are made of aluminum and come in a variety of finishes, to suit your tastes.

Curved stairlifts

If your staircase has a bend in it, we need to measure it precisely. Whether your stairs:

  • have a half landing (with the two sets of stairs running parallel to each other)
  • are ‘fanned’ (where the two sets of stairs are at an angle less than 90°)
  • have a quarter landing (with the two sets of stairs at 90° to each other)
  • are a spiral staircase

As long as we can measure the angle of the curve, we can fit your curved stairlift.

As each stairlift is custom made to fit your stairs perfectly, the rail needs to be made to measure. This means that you might have to wait that little bit longer for your lift to be made and installed, but that’s the only way we can make sure you have the perfect stairlift to suit your needs. And you know it was made with you in mind.

Where are the rails made?

From the moment you order your curved stairlift, a drawing of your stairs is sent to our own rail factory where Stannah’s engineers start making your rail. They can see your name on the sheet, and the country you come from, so they know where their handiwork is going. They know their work is improving people’s lives all around the world, so they make each rail their best work, making sure it is as safe as can be.

Our stairlifts are made with you in mind. We know that by splitting our rails into as few sections as possible, you will have a smoother ride. Less connections, less bumps, more safety.

How can I be sure that my stairlift is going to fit my staircase?

Before it leaves the rail factory, each stairlift is tested to make sure it will run smoothly from the top right to the bottom of the stairs and back up again. Each bit of the stairlift is monitored closely, so if the slightest thing is wrong it gets sent back to the engineers so they can fix it. A model of your stairs with the exact same measurements is put up and your stairlift set up on it, so before our installers get to your house we know your stairlift will be the perfect fit.

What if my stairs are too long for a curved stairlift?

Our curved rails can be made to fit very long staircases. The longest rail we’ve made so far is 236 feet long, but that doesn’t mean it’s the longest we can do.

Even if you lived in a lighthouse or a castle, we could make a stairlift to fit your home.

Outdoor stairlifts

Outdoor stairlifts give access to your yard, garden or driveway

Outdoor stairlifts take you safely up and down your outdoor stairs. This includes front entryways, decks, patio stairs and, in some cases, garage entrances. We can install on most types of stair constructions, but do require a straight-run (curved stairlift rails can only be installed indoors at this time). Outdoor stairlifts are made with durable materials, including weather-resistant plastic and durable metal rails. Our outdoor stairlifts are also designed to handle extreme heat and cold.

With an outdoor stairlift, you can regain access to your backyard or garden, so you can enjoy the great outdoors. All outdoor stairlifts also come with a protective cover and key lock to keep your stairlift safe from the elements and unwanted use. With an outdoor stairlift, you can safely enjoy your home its fullest extent!

What are the rails made of?

Our outdoor rails are made of weather-resistant aluminum, so they can stand up to the elements.

Want to learn more about our stairlifts?

Read our Stairlift Complete Guide – 2022