Adding stairlifts is an affordable option for making a home or commercial building accessible. Although stairs are insignificant and just a part of life for many, they become a hazard or obstruction to the elderly or disabled. Climbing a flight of stairs increases an individual's risk of injury, and when compounded with osteoporosis, a fall can result in a fracture or broken bone. If climbing up stairs is difficult or if you need a wheelchair, you become cut off from part of your home or workplace without adequate accessibility.

Stairlifts are mobility devices that use a track system to move a chair from one floor to another. The device uses direct or battery power and comes with a swivel seat and emergency switch. Most support at least 350 pounds (500 pounds is the maximum in some cases) and come in two basic types, straight and curved. Straight stairlifts align with staircases of a similar shape, but a curved stairlift requires a custom design.

There's not one type of straight stair lift, however. Some models are built to operate in smaller spaces, while others accommodate various sizes of individuals, outdoor conditions, or wheel chairs.

Compact stairlifts are necessary for making narrow staircases accessible. Also called narrow stairlifts, these compact models are only inches away from the wall when installed and fold up at both ends.

Commercial facilities, such as hospitals, office buildings, and schools, may see several individuals come in who need to use the stairlift. To accommodate all body sizes and types, an extra large stairlift provides support for everyone. Able to support up to 500 pounds, extra large stairlifts often have 180-degree swivel seats and adjust to meet a person's physical needs.

Homes and commercial buildings often have steps outdoors, and if getting up to a porch or doorway is difficult for you, patients, workers, or clients, an outdoor stairlift makes taking the stairs easier. With standard features, outdoor stairlifts are designed with weather-proof fabric and hold up for several years to varying seasons and conditions.

Designed without a chair, a platform stairlift is necessary for making homes or commercial facilities accessible to those using wheelchairs or motorized scooters. The track mechanism is still used, but a platform replaces the chair. Side flaps act as ramps and prevent the wheelchair or motorized scooter from slipping off the platform.

Curved stairlifts use a similar mechanism, but the track is custom designed to match the turn and angles of the staircase. Before a curved stairlift is installed into your home or building, your staircase is surveyed, and all measurements are given to a factory, which puts together the product in four to eight weeks. Because more labor is needed to create a custom curved stairway, the price is three or four times as much as that for a standard straight model.


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