Stairlifts - Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

The wonderful world of stairlifts can be a confusing place at first. Hopefully with our experience and expertise we will help you get the right stairlift for you without getting ripped off.

We've all heard the vile stories about unscrupulous salesmen getting their foot in the door with trusting consumers and pressurising them to make purchases they wouldn't ordinarily make.

Whilst the Stairlift landscape is getting better it is always best to be careful and do you homework before embarking on buying a stirlft.  

Stairlifts - the 5 basics

Stairlifts - Everything You Need To Know To Get Started UK

OK, so let's start at the very beginning.

  1. Stairlifts are either straight or curved and are measured to fit your staircase - and budget!
  2. The mechanism used in all stairlifts is pretty similar. It is the design and the bells and whistles which differ extensively. There are hundreds of options out there but a good dealer should know his or her stuff and boil your personal requirements (physical, financial, aesthetic, practical, logistical, and gadget-happy) down to just a handful of best suggestions and recommendations.
  3. Stairlifts can be bought new, or for a little less money, reconditioned.
  4. In stairlift world, VAT is excluded if the key user of the stairlift is eligible for VAT relief because they have a long-term health condition or a terminal illness.
  5. As a rule of thumb most stairlifts can be fitted within 10 days of confirmation of order. The fitting process takes on average about 4 hours depending on the company you choose and your individual space/requirements. 

Stairlift companies

Stairlift companies divide into manufacturers and dealers but can be both. 

There are three large manufacturers in the UK who will also sell and install a stair lift for you. These three have all been awarded Which? Trusted supplier awards;

Who is The Best Stairlift Company? 

Well that depends, as it really does depend on your requirements. So the best stairlift company for you will depend on 5 questions which they will all ask you as part of your initial survey.

Where do you live?

Obvious question, but it is important to establish if the company you have set your heart on actually operates in your postcode. Not all companies operate all over the UK for logistical reasons.

What type of stairs do you have?

This will determine whether you need a straight or curved stairlift. Straight staircases need straight stairlifts or if they have a turn, even if only at the top or bottom, you will need a curved stairlift.

Stairlifts - Everything You Need To Know To Get Started UK spiral

Straight stairlifts are generally cheaper to buy, available quickly from most manufacturers, and more readily available as reconditioned stairlifts. Take a good look at your staircase.

Once you have understood whether you have straight stairs or stairs that turn a corner, you also need to note other features that could affect the range of stairlifts that will have the right features for your home. Note the features, commons significant features;

  • Doorways very near to the bottom or the top.
  • What size landing space do you have at top and bottom.
  • Do you have a large bulkhead?
  • Are there windows along the stairwell?
  • Is there space at the bottom to ‘park’ the chair, or will it need to park at the top?
  • What features do you need and how do you want your stairlift to look?

Who will be using the stairlift? 

Whoever will be using the stairlift needs to feel safe and comfortable on it while it is moving.

Stairlifts - Everything You Need To Know To Get Started UK cat on staircase

It is a good idea to experience riding on a stairlift before buying one to be sure it is the right option for you. Limited functional movement, such as stiff knees or hips or weak grip can often be accommodated but need assessing. Also, any balance issues or cognitive concerns.

It’s also important to think about how the individual gets on and off the seat;

  • Will they require an additional mobility aid, like a frame or a stick?
  • Can they make the transition unaided or will someone lese need to be there?
  • Are either of the above required likely in the near future. Try and futureproof your investment as much as possible.  

Personal measurements will be required, particularly the leg length. A tall person with a narrow staircase will have different requirements to a short person on a wide staircase.

You also need to think about the safety and ability of other members of the household who will be using the stairs, but not the stairlift, as this may influence the design choices.

The seats also have a variety of optional functions such as manual or powered swivel seat, linked footrest with arm rests. There are different seats styles too, such as the ‘saddle seat’ which can accommodate hip problems or narrow perching seats. Some highly sophisticated programmed stairlifts can now negotiate very narrow staircases, adjusting the seat angle as it moves along the track!

They should ALL have seatbelts and use of the seatbelt will become mandatory soon (the seat will be immobilised unless the seatbelt is done up) So, there is a lot to consider!

How quickly do you need the stairlift?

Most manufacturers and dealers will need to do a home visit to measure your staircase and to understand the specific features and needs of the user.

These are free no obligation visits, however it is worth thinking about the fact that this is quite a high priced piece of equipment so once some companies know you need one, they can be quite persistent in following up. 

It can be advisable to have a friend or family member with you during these visits so you feel safe and not overwrought by the experience.

What is your budget?

It is important that you work out your budget beforehand. Do some online research to understand ball park figures. Our article Funding a Stairlift Guide UK will also be helpful to you as a starting block.

This will help you make the right decision for you. be sure to have a priority list of your requirements and don't be talked into over spending.   

Photo Credits 

Modern Staircase Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash  

Cat On Staircase Photo by Polly Alexandra on Unsplash  

White wash hallway Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash  

Spiral staircase Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

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