Can stairlifts be fitted to any stairs?

Posted by Mobile StairLift on Sep 7, 2021 8:00:00 AM

When shopping for a stairlift, it’s difficult to know if the model you want can fit with your staircase at home or work. So, can stairlifts be fitted to any stairs? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Depending on your staircase, you might need a specialist stairlift.

In this blog post, we share what you need to know to match your staircase with the right stairlift solution. The first step is to figure out what type of staircase you have. Let’s dive in.

Understanding staircase terms and standardization


In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces strict building codes. Rules for stair dimensions are covered by these codes, ensuring that features like the rise, run, and width are standardized. Here’s what these terms refer to:

    • Rise — the overall height of the staircase. The rise determines where landings are placed. For example, landings must be provided for every 12 feet (365.8 cm) of rise.

    • Run — used to refer to either the length of the entire staircase or the individual length of each step. The longer the staircase’s run (length), the more landings will likely be used.

    • Width — width can refer to both how wide individual stairs are and how wide the entire staircase is — these numbers are usually aligned. For residences, 3 feet, 6 inches (106.7 cm) is standard. The minimum is usually 2 feet 8 inches (81.3 cm) but if a staircase exceeds 44 inches (111.8 cm), then handrails are required for both sides.

    • Unit Rise and Run — this refers to the height between two individual stairs. Unit rise is normally about 7.5 inches (19.1 cm) but standard code requires that it fits

  • Stair tread — these are the horizontal portions that people use to walk. Stair tread must fall between 9 inches and 11 inches (22.9 cm and 27.9 cm)

As stairlifts are built with the above standards in mind, it means that you should be able to, in theory, match the right stairlift with the right staircase. However, there are staircases that most stairlifts struggle with.

Staircases that need specialist solutions


Circular or spiral stairs, narrow stairwells, staircases with multiple landings, or unusual staircases often can’t be fitted with standard stairlifts. Instead, residents might have to install custom stairlifts — an option that can be prohibitively expensive. And even if you can afford custom stairlift, residences like condos or public housing may not allow for stairlift installation.

Another solution is to get specialist mobile stairlifts. These tend to be more affordable than setting up custom stairlifts and their portability offers freedom of mobility across the widest possible range of stairs. The Mobile Stairlift Genesis, for example, helps you safely and efficiently get up and down stairs without needing pre-installed tracks. While the Genesis offers excellent general use, the Mobile Stairlift Helix is specially designed for mobility on circular and spiral stairs.

These lightweight and portable solutions can be neatly packed away when not in use and it can easily be used outside of the home. Learn more about the MSL Genesis.

Find the perfect stairlift

Topics: Stairlifts