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What is a Stair Lift?

By Modern60, Editorial Team

Last Updated on April 2nd, 2024

Senior Health & Wellness

What is a Stair Lift?

As a person ages, moving around the house can become difficult. Thankfully, the market has several mobility devices that make movement easier for seniors, one of the most useful being the stair lift. Simply put, stair lifts are mechanical devices that take you up and down the stairs, helping you feel more independent. Read on to learn how they work, their different types, the installation process, and other valuable details.

How does a stair lift work?

Stair lifts have three main parts: a track, a motor, and a seat. The track is mounted along the tread of the stairs, while the motor powers the seat to move up and down this track. Operating the lift is very simple. Just sit on the seat and use the hand control or remote to move up or down.

Safety features in stair lifts

One of the biggest concerns many have regarding stair lifts is their safety. How can you be safe while using them and reduce the risk of falls? One solution is getting a stair lift with a locking swivel seat. This seat allows you to sit more comfortably. It also has a seat belt, which can help you feel more safe, especially when descending the stairs.

Besides a locking swivel seat, look for the following safety features when getting stair lifts:

  • Obstruction and safety sensors
  • Emergency stop buttons
  • Remote controls
  • Dual mechanical and electrical braking systems
  • Diagnostic digital displays
  • Limit sensors
  • Speed governors
  • Arm position switches
  • Folding seats

Types of stair lifts

You should know what type of stair lift you need for your home. Generally, stair lifts are classified into two types:

Straight stair lifts

As the name suggests, straight stair lifts only go straight. Due to their simplicity, straight stair lifts are often the easiest and cheapest to install. Many modern ones come with additional features, such as a powered footrest, swivel seat, or hinge, making them easier to operate.

Straight stair lifts
Credit: amramp

Curved stair lifts

Curved stair lifts follow the bends and curves of any staircase, making them perfect if your home has multiple flights of stairs. However, since these lifts need to be customized, they take about eight to ten weeks to make and are pricier than straight stair lifts.

Credit: amramp

Depending on your needs, you can install these stair lifts indoors or outdoors. However, outdoor stair lifts must be made using stronger materials to withstand harsh weather.

Stair lift installation process

Luckily, you do not need to renovate your house extensively to install a stair lift. Trained professionals get the job done within two to five hours on average, leaving you with new-found confidence to move around your home. Here’s what the selection and installation process looks like:

Evaluation and measurements

Reputed stair lift companies begin by sending a professional to your home to understand your mobility needs, living situation, and goals. After a detailed consultation, they take some basic measurements, such as the width and length of the staircase, the tread depth, the number of steps, etc. Based on this information, they recommend a few stair lift types and features, so you can pick one that best fits your budget and requirements.


After the stair lift has been ordered, it’s time to prepare the staircase. This step is quite simple in the case of straight stair lifts and can be managed within a day. However, preparing curved staircases may take longer as the professional may have to take extra measurements using specialized equipment. The measurements are sent to the factory to build a custom rail, which may take two to five weeks to complete.


It’s finally time to install the stair lift. Depending on the staircase’s length and configuration, installation can take two to five hours. The technicians prepare all the parts beforehand. Once done, they clamp the rail onto the staircase and attach the seat. This process may involve some light drilling, which may inconvenience some seniors for a short while.


After the installation, the technicians clean up any mess that may have occurred. Then, they explain the lift’s features and teach how to clean and use it safely. If you have any questions or require assistance, this would be a great time to ask the technician!

Servicing and maintenance

Since it’s a mechanical device, any stair lift must be serviced and repaired occasionally. Generally, stair lifts come with a warranty, which can help you save on maintenance. Speak to the manufacturer company about this, and inquire about any other extra benefits they can offer.

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at Modern60 is a group of highly skilled professionals with diverse backgrounds in journalism, content creation, editing, and digital media. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise to ensure that every piece of content meets our strict editorial guidelines and quality standards. The team is dedicated to delivering accurate, well-researched, and engaging content across various subjects, including health, wellness, lifestyle, and current events. With their commitment to upholding the highest standards of journalism and content creation, the Modern60 Editorial Team is the driving force behind our mission to empower and inspire our readers.

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