How Wide Do Stairs Need To Be For A Stairlift?

There’s a lot that goes into customizing a home to make it easier to get around, especially between floors. One question we get a lot is, “How wide do stairs need to be for a stairlift?”

Your stairway should be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate the safe and comfortable operation of most stairlifts, although some stairlifts might work on stairs as narrow as 28 inches.

Many staircases in new houses are at least 36 inches wide, due to the 2012 IRC (International Residential Code), which is great news for some, but if your house is fairly old it’s still necessary to double-check the width.

How To Properly Measure Your Stairway Width

indoor stairlift with stairway width visible

Measuring the width is typically as simple as using a measuring tape to measure from wall to wall in the stairway.

But what about in situations where there’s a railing instead of a wall on one side of the stairway? Or what if there are other obstructions along the stairway?

The safest measurement goes from one wall to the farthest possible obstruction on the other side of the wall. For example, if your stairway is 32 inches wide but there is a 1 inch molding on the wall side and a 2 inch obstruction from the railing, then reduce the overall measurement by 3 inches, which brings it down to 29 inches wide.

If you’re not sure how to properly measure your stairway, one of our seasoned experts can come in and do a measurement for you as part of a complimentary in-home inspection and assessment.

If My Stairs Are The Wrong Size, Is There An Alternative To A Stair Lift?

Yes, the most common alternative is a stair-climbing aid, something you hold on to with your hands as you walk up the stairs. Similar to a stairlift, this would require a track for this device to be installed on, but instead installing a chair on the track, a hand-held device would be installed.

Alternatively, there are also wheelchair stair climbers which are electric-powered wheelchairs with additional wheels that assist in climbing or descending stairs while being seated. This, however, would require a person to facilitate the process, so this is not a viable solution for individuals who need to climb stairs independently.

Despite these alternatives, we still strongly recommend consulting with an experienced stairlift installation company before ruling out a stairlift as an option. Click here to request a free in-home assessment today!