If you are considering installing a stairlift, then you may have little or no idea of what's involved. Hopefully this article will throw enough light on the subject to help you choose the correct stairlifts, making your stairlift installation a more pleasant and rewarding experience.
What is a Stairlift?
A stairlift is a motorised seat which travels up and down a rail on the side of your stairs. The rail is normally bolted to the stairs and not to the wall. The seat will have a back-rest, two arms and a footrest for your feet to rest on.
How do I use the Stairlift?
Using a stairlift is very simple. You simply sit on the seat and press the 'up' button located on the arm (or the 'down' button if descending) and the stairlift will take you to your desired destination and stop automatically on arrival.
How long does it take to install?
A stairlift takes between 4 and 6 hours to install.
Does it ruin my stairs?
No, installing a stairlift is a very clean process. The only drilling involved is to drill some small holes on the treads of your stairs every 4 to 5 steps so that rail fixing brackets can be securely fixed to the stairs. The remainder of the works involves fitting and wiring of the stairlift itself.
What about turns and bends?
Turns and bends are not a problem. There is a standard stairlift which fits to straight stairs only, and a curved stairlift which is custom-built to suit the exact profile of your stairs. A straight stairs stairlift is normally fitted on the wall side of your stairs whereas a curved stairlift can be fitted on either the wall side or the banister side. For example, if you live in a three storey house and you want the stairlift to serve all levels, then it is only possible to fit the stairlift on the banister side as the stairlift would impede doorways on the mid-floor if it was installed wall side.
Do I have options in choosing my stairlift?
Most stairlifts are available with a choice of seat colours to tone in with the décor of your house. However there are other options that you should carefully consider.
- Controls: The directional controls ('up' and 'down' controls) are located in the arm and you will generally have a choice between push button controls and joystick controls. For people with arthritic fingers, joystick controls are much easier to use.
- Swivel seat: The seat should have a swivel facility allowing it to turn into the upper landing making it safe for you to dismount. The swivel facility can be manual or powered. If you have good upper body strength and reasonably strong hands then you should not have a problem using the manual swivel. If on the other hand you have poor upper body strength and /or arthritic hands, then you should opt for the powered swivel option.
- Footrest: The seat, arms and footrest fold upwards when the stairlift is not in use in order for it to fold away neatly. The seat and arms are easy to fold but the footrest is much more difficult to manipulate as it is so low to the floor You should therefore ensure that a 'seat to footrest linkage' is provided so that the footrest raises and lowers together with the seat.
Is it safe to use?
A stairlift is extremely safe to use. There are strict stairliftssafety standards covering all stairlifts and a stairlift will include as standard such items as a mandatory seat belt, sensors on all sides including the footrest and constant pressure controls meaning that if your finger leaves the control button or joystick the stairlift stops automatically.