It probably feels like it was just yesterday you were running up and down stairs at your home. You may have even skipped a step on occasion to reach your destination a few seconds early.
Today, you may be looking at your stairs with more dread and less enthusiasm. Each step reminds you of the aches and pains in your joints, that old injury from being reckless in your twenties, or the potential back pain that could return if you step in the wrong direction.
If before each trip up or down your stairs you start planning what you will do if you fall or have a misstep, it’s time to consider a stair lift. Read on to learn more about different types of stair lifts and how they can help you.
What Is a Stair Lift?
Stair lifts have been solving problems for years with those who are elderly or have injuries that lead to pain when climbing or descending steps. A stair lift is simply a mechanical device that takes you up and down your stairs.
A rail is attached to the stairs. It runs on tracks that extend from the top of your stairs to the bottom. On top of the rail is a platform that moves along the tracks. The platform is where you can put a chair, or you can design the area to allow you to stand the whole way up or down.
Most people choose a chair of some kind because they provide more comfort and stability. Plus, they come with extra supports and luxuries. They allow you to continue enjoying the freedom of your whole house. Stair lifts are typically battery operated but you will need an outlet nearby to charge the battery when the lift is not in use.
Because there are four types of stair lifts, you will need to choose the one that best fits your needs. Or, you can install different stair lifts throughout your home. Keep reading to learn more about types of stair lifts: straight, curved, outdoor and portable stair lifts.
Types of Stair Lifts
Straight Stair Lifts
Straight stair lifts are great for those of you with staircases that do not have any bends or curves. Standing at the bottom of the stairs you can see the top of the stairs. They may have landings at the top, bottom or both. The stair lift moves in a straight line, up and down. Your staircase can be open or have railings on both sides.
When you are not using the stair lift, it can be folded up and tucked out of the way. The arm rests, footrests and seat can fold up to save space. Some models are made so the rails can be folded up too. Just like many other products, there are basic versions all the way up to premium versions. You can choose the right one for you based on budget, design and functionality.
Curved Stair Lifts
Curved stair lifts are designed to maneuver along tracks that follow the curves of your staircase. And you don’t have to worry about your chair leaning too far forward or backward as you make the turns. The curved stair lifts are self-leavening and adjust with each turn so that you remain sitting upright and secure.
They do this because the rails are attached to the stairs and when the steps curve, the rail curves. If you have multiple staircases, a curved stair lift can give you a smooth lift the staircase, across the landing, and up the higher staircase. Curved stair lifts, like straight stair lifts, are made to be folded away when not in use.
Outdoor Stair Lifts
Outdoor stairs have been installed for many useful reasons, like to transition from the home to the yard when installing a ramp would be too lengthy, bulky and costly. Other stairs take you to the basement of a home, or to the garage.
While indoor stairs are usually made of wood, outdoor stairs can be made of wood, concrete or even metal. They are made with weatherproof materials. This is true for the stair lift materials also. The chair, rails, and extra features are made to withstand the outdoors for many years.
It is no problem to install a stair lift to an outdoor set of steps. They come with outdoor protection covers but some people choose to have a local contractor build a small storage box to store the chair at either the top or bottom of the stairs. Outdoor stair lifts, like straight and curved, come in a variety of models with features that range from basic to premium.
Portable Stair Lifts
Portable stair lifts give you the option of taking your lift with you wherever you go. This puts you in control when traveling since portable stair lifts are built to climb any type of stairs. Stairways can be made of wood, brick, concrete, steel or carpet and the portable lift will easily take you from one level to another.
The only difference with portable stair lifts is the need to have a travel companion help you maneuver the lift. But it is easily maneuvered. The machine does all the work, the attendant simply guides the machine.
Even though they are portable, they are still very sturdy, holding well over 300 pounds. They have different speeds and can be assembled and disassembled in minutes. Most come in three separate parts and when taken apart, they are small enough to easily fit into cargo luggage areas of RVs, airplanes and buses.
This means you can travel to any destination without fear of climbing stairs, even to places that include steep ramps. Portable lifts have serious braking and locking power to prevent runaway lifts. One of the best features is the training that accompanies a portable lift. Manufacturers to retailers can train you to safely use the lift.
Because the four stair lifts are so different, the decision as to which one to buy is less difficult. Straight stair lifts can fit only a straight set of steps. Curved stair lifts are custom fit to a curved set of steps. Outdoor stair lifts can be straight or curved, but you should only purchase the models made of weatherproof materials.
Finally, portable stair lifts are purchased by those who want the ability to go up and down staircases while away from home.