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Stairlift Buying Guide

Are you unsure whether you need a stairlift or whether your staircase is suitable for a stairlift? As part of our ongoing customer service, we have put together an easy to follow Stairlift Guide, which will take you through some of the simple steps in understanding how a stairlift would be fitted in your home, if you were to choose Ableworld to do this.

We pride ourselves on being an ethical trader, endorsed by Which Trusted Traders, ensuring that our customers are offered good advice and are never put under pressure to make a purchase of any piece of Mobility Equipment.

If you can’t find the answer to your question in our guide, feel free to call our friendly Customer Service team on Freephone 0800 014 9344


What is a stairlift?

A stairlift, sometimes also called a chair lift, is a mechanical product which lifts users in a seated or perched position between the floors of your home. Stairlifts are made to your exact requirements and therefore some adjustments can be made to suit your needs, such as the controls and features if you have limited mobility on one side of your body.


Do I need a stairlift?

If moving up and down the stairs in your home has become a struggle or painful you may need to make alterations to your home, so that it is all on one level which may be inpractical. If, however you just need a helping hand in manoeuvring around your home to maintain your independence, a stairlift is probably the best option.

Until you are certain that you would like to purchase a Stairlift, don’t rush into your purchase and take your time.


Things to consider

As with all home improvements, it is recommended that you get the opinion of friends or family or a professional such as an Occupational Therapist (OT) to see if they agree that a stairlift would be the best option. If possible, ask a family member or friend to be present when the engineer visits to discuss the options, so they have a full understanding of what is involved.

Try some out. If you have a friend or relative who has a stairlift, ask them for advice and if they wouldn’t mind you having a go. You can also contact your local Ableworld store to try out their demonstration model.

Gather as much information as you can – request information from your local suppliers, research the various models on the internet or call your local mobility store and discuss any concerns with them and compare prices

If you are happy that a stairlift is the right option for you, it is important that you understand the various options available to you before committing to a purchase, ensuring that the stairlift is suitable for your individual needs.


What type of Stairlift do I need? 


Stairlifts generally fall into 2 main categories, Straight or Curved.

If you have straight run of steps a straight stairlift would be recommended. Straight stairlifts are usually fitted within a couple of hours and are generally cheaper.
If you have any bends, curves or landings within your staircase, you would require a curved stairlift.

Both types of stairlift are made to your requirements and are fitted to the tread of the stairs. Many people assume it will be fixed to the wall, however this isn’t the case, and will save on redecoration costs. On many models you can fold up the seats to ensure the staircase isn’t obstructed for other family members


There are 2 main types of seating choices:

Seated stairlift, available in a variety of designs depending on the lift you choose. This allows you to sit in a standard seated position with your knees bent. These seats come with a safety belt to ensure you are secure before moving. The seat will swivel to ensure you can exit the stairlift safely

Perch Seat (Standing with knees slightly bent). These seats are designed for people who find sitting uncomfortable. The seat is designed to support the user under the buttocks, so that they can perch on the stairlift comfortably. These also feature a safety belt to ensure you are secure

Both types of seat will swivel to ensure you can exit the stairlift safely. As standard this is a manual swivel, so you will need to turn your body and the seat in order to step off the lift. There is an additional feature available on some models to have a powered swivel, which will turn the seat automatically on your approach.


The footrest ensures your feet do not obstruct the stairlift when in motion and allows you to securely place your feet flat when seated. The majority of stairlifts feature a manual footplate, which you bend down to unfold. This can be an issue for some users, so a powered footplate feature is available on some models/


Controls can be fitted to either side of the stairlift seat, which is ideal if you suffer with mobility problems that affect one side of your body. There are a variety of types of control on some models to suit various conditions, such as joy sticks which may be easier to use

Rail obstructions

Are there any obstructions close to your staircase? Would a stairlift rail obstruct a door? If so, there are options such as hinged or slide tracks that you could consider to ensure the stairlift isn’t an inconvenience to your home

A qualified engineer can advise on the best options for you once they have looked at your staircase design


Things to remember when considering a stairlift

It is your home and your decision

If you are inviting sales people into your home be sure to only welcome people you feel comfortable with, and that you are expecting. Always ask for identification and if possible have another person present when the representative visits.

Beware of pressure selling tactics

Beware of companies who use pressure selling or hard sell tactics. Genuine companies won’t have “offers” that must be used that day. Many salesmen also start at an inflated price and knock some money off if it looks as though you won’t commit. Again this is a warning sign for companies who are not to be trusted and if you are unsure, ask them politely to leave a quote for you to consider in your own time

Funding If you or someone living in your home is disabled you may qualify for a grant or funding towards a stairlift. If you would like to enquire we recommend you speak to your Occupational Therapist or the Housing department of your local council.

Weight Limits Stairlifts as with many other mobility aids are supplied with a maximum user weight, to ensure your equipment is used correctly and safely. They are available in a variety of user weight limits so please check and ensure you do not exceed the maximum weight capacity of the stairlift that you choose.

Stair Width Stairlifts can be installed on all types of staircases; however the width of the stairs can limit some properties. You will usually need a width of approximately 27 inches to be able to have a stairlift installed. Your representative will be able to advise you on this matter.

Power All lifts are powered by batteries which are charged from a mains supply. Stairlifts will vary on how they charge, some will have to be parked on a specific charge point, whereas others will receive a continuous charge no matter where they are parked on the track. The main advantage of having a battery powered lift is that it can be used at all times, even in the event of a power failure. However the disadvantage is that eventually the batteries will need replacing.

 Additional Stairlift Options

 Reconditioned Stairlifts A stairlift can be expensive and not everybody will be able to afford a brand new lift. A reconditioned stairlift can save a lot of money; however you will need to remember that a reconditioned stairlift will not look as smart as a new one. Most reconditioned lifts will be for straight staircases, this means when they are taken out of a house they can then be fitted to a staircase either shorter or the same length as the original. As a curved stairlift is made to measure they are very rarely sold on to be fitted in somebody else's house. There may be a possibility that you can save money on a curved lift by having a new track and a reconditioned seat and carriage. Reconditioned stairlifts should still offer a warranty period, the length of which will depend on the age of the lift. Your representative will be able to tell you more.

Rentals If you don't feel that you will need the stairlift for a long period of time, it may be more practical and cost effective to rent one. If you need the lift for longer it may be cheaper to buy a reconditioned lift. Most companies will charge an initial fee which should cover the installation, removal and the servicing of the lift. There will then be a monthly charge for the rental. Make sure that you understand the rental agreement and don't get stuck in a contract that you have to pay for even when you no longer require the stairlift. The rental option at Ableworld is only available on straight stairlifts

We hope you find our guide useful but if you do have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact your local store or call our Stairlift Customer Service team on Freephone 0800 014 9344