How Much Space Does a Stair Lift Use?

By Linda Ray

  • Overview

    Stair lifts can open up access to a home with more than one floor for the disabled and those who have trouble climbing stairs. By sitting on a mechanized chair, the person can glide up or down a staircase with ease. A button on the arm of the chair makes operation simple and effective for anyone. While offering convenience and accessibility for those with mobility problems, the elderly and the disabled, stair lifts do take up space on a staircase and can make them difficult to maneuver when not using the lift.
  • Width

    The chair and footrest on a stair lift typically can be lifted to minimize the space the lift takes up when not in use. The average chair lift utilizes about 14 inches of space on the stairs. When the seat and footrest are in use, the unit can stick out as much as 26 inches. The average width of stairwells is about 36 inches and thus can accommodate most stair lift models.
  • Length

    Most stair lift companies can customize a lift to any length. The average length for a stair lift is 24 feet. In addition to the width of the chair, space must be made available for the railing, which is attached to the stairs. The top of the lift extends about 6 inches above the top landing and about 14 inches below the last step. Room in those areas must be cleared.


  • Alterations

    Sometimes a handrail may need to be removed to accommodate the lift. Lifts that turn corners take up extra room on the landing over which they turn. Extra space away from the wall, from 6 to 18 inches, may be needed to install the rail on which the stair lift rests as it turns the corner.
  • Power

    Stair lifts need to be near to an electrical power source to function unless it's battery-operated. The placement of the outlets may determine on which side of the stairs the stair lift will be placed. The closer to a wall a stair lift can be installed, the less space it takes up. If no outlet is close to the wall side of the stairwell, an electrician can easily run power to the rail and eliminate the need to change the placement of the lift. When taking up space on a stairway for a lift, every inch that can be saved will be beneficial for those who continue to walk up and down the steps.
  • Heavy Loads

    Standard seats on a stair lift can accommodate persons with limited mobility up to about 300 pounds. While that limit is pushing the endurance of the seat, it likely will hold up under normal use. For people larger than 300 pounds, upgrades are available on most models that offer stronger seats and hardware, rather than larger seating areas.
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