The ultimate guide to buying a stairlift

By Bethany Ward on 3rd September 2021

Buying a stairlift is meant to make life easier for you. But that doesn’t mean any stairlift you pick for your home will serve this purpose.

Each home and user is unique, requiring a stairlift that will cater to their particular needs. That will call for some research and a little bit of digging around. Knowing what to look for when buying your stairlift is essential in making sure you get the most value for your money and the best service out of the stairlift.

In this guide, you will learn about the steps and features you should look for before buying a stairlift. This way you know you are getting a safe and affordable stairlift for you and your home.

Is buying a Stairlift the right option for you?

Various mobility solutions are available to seniors. Before you settle on a stairlift, you have to be sure it’s the best option for you.

Investing in a stairlift will change your life dramatically. It also has significant financial implications and will take a good amount of your living space.

If you’re seriously considering a stairlift, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine if this is the best mobility solution for you.

  • What are your current and future mobility needs?
  • Can a stairlift be installed in your house?
  • What are the costs associated with buying a stairlift?
  • What is the process of buying a stairlift?

Why not also read: Install a stairlift or move to a bungalow?

User considerations

Now that you’ve decided a stairlift is the best option for you, there are a few things you need to figure out before you start looking for the stairlift. These will help you to narrow down your options and only look at varieties that are best suited for you.

These factors include;

  • How heavy are you?
  • How tall are you?
  • What is the length of the stairway?
  • How many people will be using the stairlift?

Depending on these metrics, the design of the stairlift can be tweaked to meet your needs better.

Professional Advice

Make sure you buy a Stairlift from a manufacturer that is accredited by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BTHA). This assures you that you are buying from an approved supplier, ensuring you are getting the best products and services. They have even provided an independent guide to buying a stairlift.

Type of stairlift

Once you’re sure that the stairlift is the way to go, you need to assess and find out which type of stairlift is best for you. At this point, it’s best to have an expert come and have a look at your home and advise you on the best way forward.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to research the types of stairlifts to know which one is best for you.

Straight stairlifts

These types of straight stairlifts are ideal for homes with a straight staircase. The railing used in these staircases is simple and doesn’t require a lot of customisation.

Curved stairlifts

These curved stairlifts have a rail that is customised to your stairs. If you have any bends or curves on your staircase, this is the best type of stairlift for you.

Seated stairlifts

Seated stairlifts come with a variety of additions and features to make the stairlift easier to access and use. To help you make the right decision on the type of sitting stairlift you want for your home, here are a few factors you need to consider.

  • Current physical condition – If you’re in a good physical state, you can forego most of the features and go for the standards. But it’s always advisable to plan with the future in mind. Your balance will only get worse down the line, and adding these features later on, could be more costly. If you can afford to have the features added now, it could save you money in the future.
  • Width of the staircase – The width of the staircase will determine the size of the stairlift installed. In some cases, narrow stairlifts might make it difficult to have a substantial footrest. But, the engineers who come for the consultations will give you alternatives on the best alternative for you.

Additional features

Most additional features are considered a luxury and unnecessary. But some of them could actually save you a lot of trouble and inconvenience and are well worth the price. The most important thing when considering the additional features is to go for those that will be most useful.

Some of the options you can choose from include;

  • Swivel seat
  • A battery back-up that will keep the stairlift running in case of a power outage
  • A foldable foot piece to reduce obstruction when the staircase is not in use
  • A remote control which makes it easier to call or send the stairlift (perfect when two people are sharing the stairlift).
  • Larger footrest and deeper seat for heavier and taller users

How much does buying a stairlift cost?

Choosing a good stairlift is one part of the puzzle. After choosing your stairlift, you need to consider the cost.

The prices of stairlifts vary based on a variety of factors and your individual needs. It’s essential to prioritise your safety and comfort when considering the price.

You might have to pay a little more to get a top of the line stairlift, but over the years, it’s going to offer you a better and safer experience and you will feel more comfortable using it.

Some of the factors that will affect the cost of your stairlift include;

  • Type – straight stairlifts generally cost less compared to curved options. This is attributed to the complex nature of the railing, motors, and programming that goes into curved stairlifts. You might also pay more for a seated stairlift compared to a perch option.
  • Customisation – depending on the requirements of your home and your preferences, the stairlift can be customised. Some of the parts that are customisable include the rail and upholstery. If customisation is required for your stairlift, the cost will be slightly higher.
  • New or reconditioned – you don’t always have to install a new stairlift in your home. If you find the cost of a new stairlift too heavy to bear, a reconditioned stairlift is a viable option. It’s more affordable and performs just as well as the new option.
  • Buying Vs. Renting – if you need the stairlift for a short amount of time, you can rent one. The benefits are the same. But, renting only makes sense when you need the stairlift for a short period. If you need one long-term, buying is a more practical option and proves cheaper in the long run.

Installation and maintenance

Most manufacturers will send their personnel to install the stairlift. This is the safest option because it ensures the stairlift is installed correctly by someone who is professionally trained. It also ensures that should anything fail, the warranty is not voided.

Each stairlift should come with a maintenance chat that should be followed strictly and maintenance and service done by the manufacturer accordingly. By following this chat closely, you should enjoy long, trouble-free service from your stairlift.

Why not also read: How do stairlift work?

After-sales support

Most companies are excellent at sales pitches and providing services just before you buy the product. Considering how vital a stairlift will be to your mobility and safety, you should be more worried about the after-sales support.

The stairlift should come with a considerable warranty on parts and labour and you should be provided with a working phone number you can use in case the equipment fails or breaks down.

Before you make a choice, it’s advisable to read up on customer reviews for the different companies and see which one is the most responsive and offers the best services. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you won’t be stuck should anything happen to the stairlift.

How to use a stairlift safely

You have finally settled on your stairlift. After listening to advice from family, friends, experts and even picking a few pointers from this guide, you finally have the stairlift installed. Now you just need to figure out how to use it.

Stairlifts are designed with plenty of safety features. But, if you don’t know how to use them, they’re not any good.

To help you make the most out of your stairlift, here’s a quick guide on using stairlifts safely;

  • Wear your seatbelt – stairlifts might not travel at neck break speeds but, that shouldn’t overrule the importance of wearing the seatbelt. A slight loss of balance can send you tumbling down the stairs with serious injuries. The belts are in place to avoid this.
  • Be cautious when getting on and off the lift – develop a good routine when getting on and off the stairlift. It’s easy to trip especially when boarding the stairlift at the top of the stairs.
  • Don’t overload – having kids joy ride with you on your new ride might sound like fun. But it only overworks the motors and you could easily overload the unit and cause it to seize.
  • Kids shouldn’t operate the unit – if you have kids in the house, go for a stairlift with a destabilising key. This will prevent the children from playing around with the stairlift when you’re not using it.

Why not also read: How safe are stairlifts? 

Wrapping it up!

The decision to get a stairlift can be both exciting and overwhelming.  You have various things to consider and different options to choose from. But, the thought of finally being able to get up and down your home with no help makes it all worth it. Read more about benefits of installing a stairlift here

With this guide, you have everything you need to make the best decision on choosing your ticket to your freedom. But, don’t forget to listen to the experts and consider their opinions.