Discover your home's full potential with the best accessibility solutions!

    Discover your home's full potential with the best accessibility solutions!

      Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Stairlift

      Are you considering purchasing a stairlift for yourself or for a loved one? You have probably started your research online, but might be confused on the right kind to get and the technical specifications that you should be looking for. 

      Well, we’re here to help you with this big decision. Below, we provide you with a breakdown of the differences between the straight and curved stairlifts, what those numbers and technical terms mean, how much a stairlift costs in the British Columbia region; and we even included visuals to guide you further. 

      A stairlift (stair lift), also called a chair lift for stairs, is a mechanical device used for transporting people up and down the stairs. It is typically used by people with disabilities or mobility limitations. 

      Every stairlift comes with three main components:

      1. Tracks
      2. Stairlift Seat / Motor / Footrest
      3. Accessories and other hardware

      Of course, a stairlift from a reliable source should come with a warranty, with a standard period of two  to five years. 

      Common misconceptions:

      1. Stairlifts run off of your regular AC outlet power – In reality, stairlifts are powered by 2x 12V batteries and only the battery charger is plugged into the wall outlet. This ensures that even during a power outage your stairlift will still be able to run.

      2. Stairlifts are installed into the wall – they are actually installed onto the treads of your stairs.

      There are two main types of chair lifts for indoor use: Straight Rail and Custom Curved.

      Straight Rail Stairlift

      The straight rail stairlift is designed to cover a set of straight stairs on either the left or the right side- this is determined by standing at the bottom looking up.

      Due to the customer’s budget limitations, the provider might suggest two straight stairlifts for staircases with an immediate landing, commonly found in split-level or tri-level homes. However, this comes with certain challenges when it comes to transferring from one chair lift to another, especially for those with limited mobility.

      Typical length: Ranges from 8 to 16 feet, based on the length of your staircase. Longer runs, such as 20 feet, are available but not as common. 

      Weight capacity: Average capacity of 300 lbs to 400 lbs.

      Installation and turnaround time: The installation time, depending on options and length of your lift, ranges between 2 to 4 hours. Standard straight stairlifts are usually more readily available, and in most cases, a reliable company with in-house fully-trained technicians can have your installation done within one week from the time you confirm the price quotation.

      Costs of unit and installation: Starts at $3,000

      Custom Curved Stairlift

      The custom curved stairlifts are designed to cover a set of multiple stairs and usually involves going around corners or across landings. This has the benefit of never having to get off the stairlift when traveling between several stories in your home. Custom color options are available for some curved chair lifts.

      Most custom lifts are, as the name says, custom-made to a specific set of stairs. However, certain manufacturers may call it a ‘custom lift’, but it really is just a set of pre-assembled sections (and sometimes, reused parts) that they will try to fit to your stairs. This may result in wasted space, and odd and rough turns. The custom part doesn’t really hold true in those cases.

      Typical length: Depends on the length of your staircase.

      Weight capacity: Average capacity of up to 400 lbs.

      Installation and turnaround time: If you do decide to purchase a custom curved stairlift, your service provider needs to take actual measurements and pictures of the stairs with a special program. Carefully-placed markers will be used to assure accuracy and utilize every inch of your staircase. 

      These pictures will then be converted by the manufacturer into detailed illustrations, including a planned-out view of what the lift would look like. 

      Usually, the turnaround time for a custom-made stairlift from accepting the quote, drafting and approval of the layout, to manufacturing and shipping is about six weeks. Installation time lasts an average of 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size and length of the unit. 

      If you opt for a custom stairlift, it is important to plan ahead so that you have the chair lift ready when you need it.

      Costs of unit and installation: Starts at $10,000

      Safety Features

      Options or accessories are available to enhance safety, comfort and convenience for users. Some of the most useful ones are: 

      Power swivel– allows the user to turn at the top of the stairs with just a press of a button.

      Power Folding footrest– helps to provide bigger space in the staircase, when the chair lift is not in use. This can be powered mechanically with the press of a button, or manually by simply folding up the seat cushion. 

      Folding rail at the bottom of the stairlift– this can be powered mechanically or manually. The folding rail option allows you to have a stairlift in an area where people must travel through a doorway or hallway at the bottom of the stairs- it simply folds up and out of the way, so you have the access and space you need, when the stairlift is not in use. 


      Now let us look at the different applications for each type of stairlift, using some of the more common stair layouts.

      Here we have 3 examples of staircase layouts and the kind of stairlift suited for each one:

      • The first one shows you a straight rail lift going up the stairs, the lift could be installed on either side. 
      • The second and third illustrations show you a staircase with a landing, and the differences between having two straight stairlifts versus a continuous stairlift with a custom curve. The downside to the two straight rail lifts is that the user has to transfer on the landing between the lifts, which can be hazardous for those with limited mobility and balance capabilities. 

      Again all examples could be mirrored to the opposite side of the stairs.

      Below are 3 more examples of common stairlift configurations- again, a major consideration with having  2 straight chair lifts should be the ability of the user to transfer themselves on the landing. 

      This last example shows a situation that will not be able to accommodate a straight rail stairlift, there simply is no way to install any other type of stairlift other than a custom curved stairlift for this kind of staircase.

      What type of stairlift suits you best? Here are the factors to consider: 

      1.  Your staircase

      As illustrated above, a straight staircase with no landing requires a straight stairlift, while a curved staircase requires a custom curved chairlift. 

      You can choose between the two options when it comes to straight stairs with a landing in between. 

      2.  The user’s mobility and health condition

      The option of installing two straight rail stairlifts instead of one continuous custom stairlift is definitely viable, but we have to look at the downsides and the potential hazards or concerns when we expect a loved one with disabilities or mobility concerns to transfer between two lifts on the landing. 

      Ultimately, the custom curved stairlift is the best bet when it comes to safety. It will provide you with a more future proof solution and the greatest ease of use too.

      3.  Costs

      The cost differences depend on the application and the options you are looking for. 

      Definitely, two straight rail stairlifts versus one custom curved stairlift will, in most cases, cost less money. 

      The decision lies with you and how you see the day-to-day usage for the years to come. Remember that a stairlift is an investment- thinking about the long term is sometimes more cost effective than saving money now. 

      After-sales service matters- a lot. So whichever option you choose, make sure that you are dealing only with authorized distributors with well-trained technicians, ideally located within or near your area. 

      Make sure to check your warranty coverage and to check out reviews and real-life experiences before making your purchase. 

      Home2stay is a certified dealer and service provider of top stairlift brands Bruno and Handicare, in Vancouver and the whole British Columbia region. 

      To learn more about having a stairlift installed in your space, you may contact Home2stay for a FREE ASSESSMENT. Our team will be more than happy to assist you and help ensure that you’re making the right decision for yourself and your loved ones.



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