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How to Buy a Stairlift - Your Complete Guide

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Total Access Solutions is committed to helping you feel safe, comfortable, and independent in your own home. We offer a wide variety of cost-effective accessibility solutions — including cutting-edge stairlifts built using latest technologies you can rely on every single day

Falls in homes are the leading cause of injury for older adults, a stairlift can be a simple addition that can make your home safer. Stairlifts are incredibly common additions to the home, transforming properties for people whose mobility is affected by injuries, disabilities, or age-related difficulties. They can completely redefine your experience of moving from one floor to another, eliminating any discomfort or risks you may be accustomed to.

We know that you may be a little hesitant at the prospect of investing in a stairlift, particularly if you’ve recently found yourself struggling with mobility or feel concerned about the cost.

And with so many different stairlifts on the market, choosing the right one for your staircase and budget can be difficult.

Fortunately, our expert team has written the following guide to help make the process far easier for you. This is an honest, easy-to-follow look at the common questions buyers ask when looking for a new stairlift.

By the time you reach the end, you’ll have all the answers you need.

outdoor stairlift on the patio

The right stairlift can be beautifully simple (and simply beautiful) in its design. Fundamentally, it’s a comfortable chair fitted to move along a track or rail mounted on a stairway, taking you safely up or down your stairs at the touch of a button. It really is that easy.

Stairlifts may look complex, but the easy function and straightforward installation means Total Access Solutions can bring a state-of-the-art accessibility solution into their home with surprisingly little work.

The chair itself is made to keep riders safe and secure and in total comfort for the entire journey from one end of the staircase to the other. It takes up only as much space as it needs to, tracks can be as little as 5” from the wall maximizing convenience and minimizing the aesthetic impact on your decor.

The chair can be either power swivel or manual for easier transfers. The seat can flip up out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space on your stairs. In either case, you’ll find getting into and out of it hassle-free. A seatbelt is included for your comfort and reassurance, too. Safety is paramount in every aspect of designing and installing the latest stairlifts.

A stairlift operates courtesy of a motor that is powered by batteries so that you never need to worry, even when there is a power outage. On some lifts the batteries recharge once the chair is moved back to its ‘parking spot’ at the bottom of the stairs, others offer a constant charge allowing you to park the lift anywhere on the track. The batteries charge with an “on demand” charger that is low voltage and frequently tests the power, so it only uses power from your outlet when it needs it.

The motor moves on a gear on the rail/track, which transports the chair from one end to the other. The movement is slow and steady, to ensure you remain completely safe and comfortable from beginning to end. Stairlifts certainly don’t move so fast that you risk falling off the chair. The lifts also offer safety features that can sense if something is on the stairs so stops automatically the second it senses any danger.

When you’re ready to go up or downstairs, simply use the remote control to call the lift and it will come right to you either up or down the stairs. Calling the stairlift using the remote controls will reverse the motor and bring the stairlift back to its original starting point at the same speed.

Because stairlifts run on batteries, this will reassure you that you won’t be left stranded in the unlikely event of a power outage. That’s a reasonable, common concern for anyone considering adding a stairlift to their home, but it’s nothing to worry about.

Our team is happy to provide in-depth directions and guidance on your stairlift’s performance if you have any further questions.

If all of this seems complicated, don’t worry. Stairlifts are easy to control and use, right from the moment you sit on it for the first time. Yours will become a valuable part of your home before you know it.

how do stairlifts work

It’s easy to assume there’s just one type of stairlift on the market. But there are multiple types catering to different staircase styles and personal requirements. This empowers you to install a stairlift that genuinely suits your home and mobility, for long-term satisfaction and convenience.

There are three main types of stairlifts available:

Stairlifts for straight staircases

Stairlifts for straight staircases are incredibly common and tend to be the most cost-effective. They can be installed within a short space of time and with ease, usually in just a few hours. Laying the track of rail is far simpler than on a curved staircase, especially for a technician with years of experience. Straight stairlifts are also stocked in our warehouse so a new lift can be installed with as little as 24 hrs notice. If you need a straight stairlift for only a short time, Total Access Solutions offer rental options on straight lifts.

If you are worried about the track extending onto the bottom landing because of a door or hallway, the lift can have an optional flip-up or slide track so the bottom of the stairs are without an obstruction. These come in either a manual or powered function. If you need the lift to go past the top step or past the bottom step, no problem, it can be done, we can make a custom lift to suit your needs.

These potential obstacles are just one reason why a home assessment is so important before we start the installation process.

Stairlifts for curved staircases

Installing a stairlift on a curved staircase demands a little more work but is still usually a fairly straightforward process for our seasoned team of experts.

Stairlifts for curved staircases are designed to move smoothly along their tracks just as models for straight staircases are. The custom layout is measured by our team using the latest computer measuring systems that make sure we maximise the space on your stairs. This allows for a perfect fit even on bends which might be described as ‘tight’. The measuring can take as little as 30 minutes giving you an exact mock-up of what the lift will look like on your stairs. You’ll be kept secure in the chair with the seatbelt buckled throughout the entire movement. The controls work just like those on a stairlift for a straight staircase. Some common custom stair layouts are,

Large Radius (circular shaped stairs),

90* Flat turn (“L” shaped with a landing with stairs above and below) and

180* Flat turn (U shaped with a landing with stairs above and below)

The cost of installing stairlifts on curved staircases tends to be a little higher, but Total Access Solutions is committed to giving you options with the most affordable solution available. Because of the Custom aspect of curved stairs, Custom Stairlifts are only offered for purchase, not rental.

curved rail application

Stairlifts for outdoor staircases

Entering or exiting your home safely is a crucial part of upgrading accessibility in your home, and outdoor stairlifts can be fitted to staircases leading up to your front or back door. While this might not be a concern if your entrance is level with the street, even just a short set of stairs can pose a problem.

Outdoor stairlifts operate the same as indoor stairlifts do but are made to be more weather resistant and will usually include a waterproof cover to protect them from the elements while not in use. The materials utilized in their manufacture are more weather-resistant than those in indoor stairlifts, too. These come in either straight or custom configurations, that means whatever your stairs look like, we can offer a solution that works for you.

Depending on your home’s size and layout, one or more types of stairlift may be require

Installing a stairlift in your home may seem like a large-scale job, but it’s actually fairly simple in most cases. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be required to remodel any part of the installation area, there is no need to worry if you’re concerned about superficial damage being caused from the installation. Stairlifts are mounted to your stairs, not your walls, and use only a small mounting bracket every couple of steps. The brackets are mounted to the steps using a couple screws per bracket.

Stairlifts attach to the track or rail placed over the carpet on your stairs, so there’s no need to pull it up or drill into your walls. However, if you have handrails are already present in your home and located in a position that hinders the stairlift’s installation, sometimes they may need to be removed temporarily.

The installation will require an electrical outlet (mounted same side as lift) within 8-10 feet of the bottom or top of the steps. If an outlet needs to be installed, we can provide the installation by a certified electrician. Having the lift plugged into an outlet is essential to keep your chair’s battery charged and ready for use at all times.

Another common concern is whether installing a stairlift will render your stairs inaccessible or unsafe for other members of your household or guests.

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding no. Anyone else living in your home or visiting you will still be able to climb up and down your stairs without facing any obstruction from the stairlift. Also, on all models, the chair and armrests can be folded to take up less space when not in use. Power folding footrests can be ordered as an option if preferred.

stailift and use of staircase

Stairlifts produce a little bit of noise while moving, but nothing that will disturb the rest of your household. The motors are crafted using high-quality components to keep sounds minimal.

That means you will have the freedom to go up or down stairs at any time without disrupting anyone else’s sleep or relaxation, even in the middle of the night.

The best stairlifts may be cutting-edge, but there’s no need to worry about being unable to control them if you’re not a fan of the latest technology: they’re all designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

Stairlifts include controls on the chair itself as well as including a pair of remote controls, one for the top and one for the bottom of the stairs. They’re simple to operate, just hold a switch to move the lift up or down once you’re safely secured in the seat. All are offered with an ergonomic switch that uses minimal pressure to operate. Stairlifts are controlled by what is called a constant pressure switch, this means the button is held on always when you want it to move. This makes it both safe and easy to use. The stairlift will make a subtle noise (usually a beep) once it reaches the end of the track, letting you know that it’s safe to transfer off.

Two remote controls will be provided, for calling the stairlift to and from the top and bottom of the stairs. This helps you retain your independence safely when alone in the house, as there’s no need for anyone to assist you up or down the stairs.


With Total Access Solutions, we’re passionate about delivering the highest standard of service and customer care from the moment we first interact with you. This includes providing you with a hassle-free in-home consultation to assess your accessibility requirements and determine how we can help you.

We consider a visit to your home an essential step in your customer experience. We strive to make sure that we can accommodate your needs and goals with our indoor or outdoor solutions that work for you.

During your informal consultation, a member of our expert team will check your stairs (interior, exterior, or both) and gather crucial information that enables us to install the right stairlift for your home.

This consultation doesn’t just apply to our stairlifts, either. As we offer an extensive range of accessibility solutions to help you enjoy your home without barriers, we can explore other opportunities to make positive changes. If you have any ideas, our team will be happy to hear them.

Mobility issues affect more than just your ability to climb up or down stairs unassisted. They can leave you unable to use your bathroom or other important parts of your home safely. Making entering or leaving your home or even loading a wheelchair or mobility scooter into the back of your vehicle harder than it has to be.

This is why Total Access Solutions offers a number of other installation services for inside and outside the home, including accessible bathroom renovations. We install ready-made or custom ramps, widen doorways and install new access doors. We install Porch-lifts and ceiling lifts for more involved transfers. We also have many options for grab bars and railings inside and outside your home to increase accessibility in all areas of your property.

Accessible bathroom renovations and grab bars are a popular choice for homeowners. With tiled floors, moisture, and other slippery surfaces, bathrooms can become more dangerous for people with limited mobility. We can help to make yours safer and accessible for years to come.

Vehicle solutions include fitting your vehicle with a lift for loading and unloading mobility scooters or wheelchairs. This helps you to get outside and enjoy your life without the risk of trying to load heavy items yourself.

call stairlift experts

We hope this guide has given you a valuable insight into how stairlifts work and the benefits they offer. If you feel ready to talk to a member of our team about installing a stairlift in your home, we’re here to discuss your goals and needs right now.

Total Access Solutions has more than 30 years of experience working with people of different ages and lifestyles, helping to provide them with the right accessibility and barrier-free solutions.

Feel free to give us a call at 905-409-9090 for an informal chat, or reach out using our simple contact form.

#Stairlifts #Stairlifts #Accessibility #BarrierFree

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