Stairlift Options For Narrow Stairs

narrow staircase

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It may come as a surprise, but in the UK, there needs to be a stipulated minimum width for domestic staircases under the building regulations. Although there are established width requirements for staircases designed for disabled access or to function as direct fire escapes, it’s not a given that staircases in standard homes, not purposely built with disabled access in mind, will be wide enough to fit a stairlift.

In properties built after 2010, it’s common to find a minimum clearance of 800mm, which usually allows enough room for a stairlift installation. Nevertheless, whether this space is adequate can depend on the user’s needs, an aspect we’ll delve into in more detail.

What’s The Narrowest a Staircase Can Be For a Stairlift Installation?

Generally, a straight staircase must be at least 700mm (around 27.5 inches) wide to install a stairlift without issues. The required minimum width for curved staircases increases to about 800mm (approximately 31.5 inches). Yet, there’s no need to fret for those with tighter staircases. We’re in 2024, and solutions are more accessible than ever.

Most staircases, regardless of their width, can accommodate a stairlift. However, the slimmer the stairs, the more limited your options become for choosing a stairlift model, often leading to a higher cost.

In response to this challenge, stairlift manufacturers have devised solutions creatively. For instance, Handicare has developed a solution suitable for curved or complex staircases as narrow as 680mm.

Before diving into solutions, it’s essential to grasp the core issue. When seated in a stairlift, the distance from one’s spine to the knees—or feet, if extended beyond the knees—might surpass the staircase’s width once the dimensions are considered.

Possible Solutions

Utilising compact designs and foldable components can significantly enhance space utilisation and efficiency. Features such as foldable armrests, seats, footplates, and a slender rail allow the stairlift to be tidily tucked away when unused. This setup is not only beneficial for the user but also ensures that the staircase remains accessible to other household members.

While the ability of some slimline stairlifts to fold away neatly addresses the space issue for other users, more is needed to fully solve the challenge of navigating narrow staircases with the stairlift in use.

The Ideal Solution (Not Necessarily Technical)

Revisiting the core problem, we encounter a dilemma if the measurement from your spine to your knees (or toes, if you cannot retract your feet behind your knees) exceeds your staircase’s width. Here’s a thought: if you could stand or sit on a higher seat, slightly perched at the edge, your knees wouldn’t just as much. Enter the concept of standing stairlifts or those with perch seats as potential solutions.

This approach hinges on one’s ability to remain perched or standing comfortably throughout the stairlift journey. If this is feasible and preferable, several stairlift manufacturers offer options with perch seats. This can be an excellent solution for narrow straight staircases, though options for narrow curved staircases are more limited. Handicare, for instance, produces a stairlift with a perched seat suitable for both straight and curved staircases.

The Ingenious Technical Solution

Demonstrating the prowess of German engineering, Thyssenkrupp has crafted an innovative marvel to navigate the intricacies of narrow curved staircases: the Flow X stairlift. Tailor-made to fit the precise dimensions of your slender staircase, this stairlift represents a bespoke solution.

Embedded within this German-engineered stairlift is sophisticated software meticulously programmed to align with the unique contours of your staircase, mapping out every twist and turn. As the carriage (the seat component) approaches a curve, it ingeniously swivels the seat to angle the user’s knees 45 degrees downwards, minimising the gap between the knees and the opposite stair wall.

Naturally, such a cutting-edge solution comes with a higher price tag. Still, it stands out as the optimal choice for those with narrow curved staircases or in situations where the user cannot perch or if their spine-to-knee/toe measurement exceeds the width of the stairs. The Flow X can accommodate staircases as narrow as 620mm in width. However, it must be noted that it has a maximum weight capacity of 19.68 stone (125 kg).

Ready To Choose Your Stairlift? View The Straight Stairlifts We Have In Stock Here.