This American white oak staircase provides robust support for our customer’s new stairlift, which is anchored at regular intervals by metal feet screwed into the treads. The chunky stop-chamfered spindles and newel posts serve to partially conceal the rail as it wends its way up to the first floor.

Unusually, the lift has been installed on the banister side rather than against the wall. This may be due to the layout of the first floor landing, where fitted furniture in the corner would probably make it difficult for the customer to access the stairlift if it had been positioned next to the wall.

Curved rails are more expensive so this will no doubt have increased the overall cost – the stairlift has to negotiate an extra bend at the bottom of the staircase as well as a winder turn near the top. However, this solution looks neat as well as practical, and the landing handrail provides useful extra support for the client when getting on and off the seat.

While curved stairlifts are considerably pricier than straight ones, it’s possible to keep costs down by choosing a modular system where the rail is made up of multiple ready-made sections joined together to fit the shape of your staircase. This method is relatively economical and quick to install. The drawback is that the more joins there are, the more can go wrong, so repair costs can be high once the guarantee has run out.

Bespoke curved rails made in one piece to fit individual staircases are of course more expensive, but give a smoother ride and usually need less maintenance. However, according to The Guardian many home-owners find they only use their stairlift for a year or less before moving to more convenient single-floor accommodation, so it may not be worth splashing out on a top-of-the-range model.

Stairlift installed on Pear Stairs oak staircase

Not every staircase is suitable for a stairlift. Width and height are the main factors to bear in mind – some stairs are too narrow to accommodate the structure, while others, particularly in period cottages, may not provide enough headroom. Moreover, an old staircase in poor condition might not be strong enough to support the rail.

Interested? Take a look at case study no. 678 for more details, pictures and layout drawings, or have a go at designing your own staircase using our StairCreator online planning tool.