stairlifts for narrow stairs

December 2023

Stairlifts for Narrow Stairs In December 2023

When a person is dealing with mobility issues but would like to maintain their independence, stairlifts can be an invaluable source of help. Stairlifts provide freedom for many to continue living in homes that would otherwise prove challenging. Yet many houses in the UK—especially the older ones—have staircases that are narrow, steep or short. 

If your house has a narrow staircase, you may worry that it will be impossible to install a stairlift. However, there are stairlifts for narrow stairs specifically designed to address this problem.

This article will layout the main options when looking at stairlifts for narrow stairs. It will also address queries about limits on the length and width of a flight of stairs, and the weight of the user affects your stair lift options.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

Can you fit a stairlift to any staircase?

In most cases, narrow staircases should no longer be an obstacle to finding a stairlift. The best-known stairlift companies offer slim designs which specifically cater to customers with narrow staircases. 

A good first step is to contact a stairlift expert.

They will be able to tell you if a stairlift will work for your narrow staircase. Surveyors from reputable companies will visit your home in person before deciding on the best stairlift for narrow stairs that will be safe and practical for your home.

How wide do stairs have to be for a stair lift?

Though there are many models of stairlifts that can be fitted to a narrow staircase, it is possible that your stairs are simply too narrow to safely fit a lift for staircase. A good rule of thumb is 73cm: this is the minimum width required for most stairlifts.

Stairs that are any more narrow than this minimum width pose a safety risk.

Even with narrow stairlifts, there would be a risk that the seat collides with the wall or banister, and other users may be prevented from walking past the stair lift. 

However, some types of chair lift for narrow stairs can be used in even narrower stairs. These will be outlined below.

In the meantime, here is a video about stair lifts and how they operate on a narrow staircase.

What information will the surveyor use when recommending a stairlift for narrow stairs? 

Before you install a chair lift for stairs, the staircase in question should be measured and assessed to ensure safety and functionality. The surveyor also needs to know about your level of mobility.

They will then draw on their expertise to match the right type of chairlift for stairs to your personal requirements. For instance, if you find bending your knees to be a challenge, a perch seat model may be the best solution.

Finally, the surveyor will provide you with a free quote. It is worth getting two or more different quotes in order to make an informed decision. 

What will the surveyor look for when assessing the stairs?

  1. The surveyor will check the accessibility of the staircase. One common obstacle is blocked access caused by a doorway or passageway at the top or bottom of the staircase.
  2. They will check the suitability of the bannister— an open bannister or bannister with spindles is a safety hazard. A stairlift user could slip on the footrests and fall between the gaps of the spindles.
  3. They will confirm if any minor alterations will need to be made, such as moving or adding a bannister or handrail, or perhaps installing an extra electric socket.
  4. They will also check if the staircase is too narrow even for awkward width stair lifts, as outlined above.

Are you looking for a stairlift? We can help you find the perfect one.

Choose from some of the world’s most innovative stairlifts from Acorn?

Some can be fitted quickly and easily to the stairs, not the wall
Some require no structural changes to your home
Affordable and reliable with low running costs
Slimline models that fold away conveniently when not in use
Hinged rail designs to eliminate any trip or hazard

Read some recent 5 star client testimonials, on Trustpilot, about Acorn Stairlifts’ fantastic support

More reasons why we think Acorn Stairlifts are a good option

Stairlifts made in the UK
Same day home appointments available
Next day installation available
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Market leading experience in the UK

Call now on 0333 567 1612 to get a quote or to discuss your stairlift requirements.


Book a callback, in the calendar below, for a time that suits you.

A video about Acorn stairlifts and how they work

stairlift for narrow stairs

What are the likely recommendations for narrow stairlifts?

Curved stairlifts

While custom curved stairlifts for awkward stairways are not possible in every case, they can work well. A curved stairlift includes a custom track that allows the seat of the stairlift to be folded away to save space. A curved stairlift can be more expensive than other stairway chair lifts.

Standing stairlifts and perch stairlifts

For clients with narrow stairs who have problems with bending their knees or restricted movement in their hip joints, perch stairlifts or a standing one could be a great solution. A perch seat allows the user to remain in a partially standing position, allowing the user to avoid bending their knees, while taking some of the weight off their feet, supported in their perching position by a seatbelt. 

A perch seat or standing platform is narrower than an ordinary stairlift seat, and therefore reduces the minimum width requirement of the stairlift, so these are ideal stairlifts for narrow stairs. 

Users that opt for standing stair lifts must be able to remain standing or leaning on the perch seat for the entire journey up and down the stairs. Staircases must have adequate headroom for the stairlift user to safely stand throughout the duration of their journey; long staircases may also cause the stairlift user to become fatigued during their journey. If this is likely to be a problem, opting for a stair lift with a perch seat might be a better option.

Perch stairlifts and standing stairlifts tend to have a lower weight capacity. They cost less than curved stairlifts but are pricier than a straight stairlift with a seat.

Can a stairlift be shortened?

Chairlift rails need to reach far enough so that the chair can sit securely at the top or bottom of the stairs: users are then able to get on and off it with ease. Though narrow staircases with little room at the top or bottom of the stairs require adjustments to stairlift tracking to fit well, stairlift suppliers provide a number of alternative stairlift models to suit your narrow stairs.

There are a number of features which will shorten the length of your stairlift and the reduce the amount of space that it occupies:

Customised tracks

Some models feature a customised stairlift track design that can be lifted up at either end of the stairs, clearing the way for other people to use the staircase without any barriers. Such models have the advantage of providing convenience for the whole household. This hinged track ensures free access for a door at either end of the staircase.

Fold away seats and footplates

Some stair lifts for narrow stairs provide a foldaway seat. The seat itself is typically the biggest obstruction on the staircase.

Instead of having a rigid seat which may block access for other stair users, foldaway seats can be flipped up and out of the way when the stairlift is not in use. The same logic applies to foldaway footplates. Foldaway and swivel seats and footplates are convenient features of many narrow stairlifts, allowing easy passage for family members.

What about bespoke stairlift options?

Alongside models with a customised track (or ‘stair tread’) and foldaway seat  and curved stairlift options, some companies manufacture bespoke stairlifts. These are custom-made and come with features that address the limitations of your home. In this case, there would be no need to shorten the stairlift to fit your narrow staircase.

best stairlift for narrow stairs

Can second-hand stairlifts be shortened?

If you are hoping to buy a second-hand stairlift, then it is possible that the track and hinge rail (depending on whether your staircase is straight or curved) will need to be shortened to suit the dimensions of your staircase. It is a good idea to ensure that this process is carried out by a trained engineer to ensure a safe, reliable stairs chair lift. Stairlifts installed or modified by dodgy, untrained engineers may be unsafe.

Do stairlifts for narrow stairs have a weight limit?

Weight limits vary with the make and model of the stairlift. As a rough guide, the maximum weight for straight stairlifts is 25 stone (160kg) and approximately 21 stone (136kg) for a curved staircase.

What are heavy duty stairlifts?

Heavy-duty stairlifts, also known as bariatric stairlifts, are specifically designed for customers whose needs are not met by standard stairlift weight limits. These stairlifts allow overweight people to avoid putting unnecessary strain on their muscles, joints and heart. 

A model by Companion can take up to 31 stone (197kg), which is around 40kg more than a standard stairlift. As a seated stairlift with a wider seat and extended armrests and seat base, this model will likely be unsuitable for extremely narrow staircases. 

How long does it take to install narrow stairlifts?

A straight stairlift can typically be fitted to a narrow staircase in an hour or two, while a curved stairlift will take slightly longer. Installation includes clean up, a demonstration of the features of the stairlift, and the opportunity for users to check that they are satisfied with the finished product.

How much does it cost?

Unfortunately, many of the special features of narrow stairlifts increase the costs you can expect to pay. Curved stairlifts are more expensive than straight stairlifts, and bespoke stairlifts- as well as heavy duty models- can also be expected to increase your overall costs.

We at UK Care Guide provide an article laying out all the important details on stairlift costs, from purchase and installation to maintenance, and the different costs you can expect to arise from different models of stairlifts.

What should I remember when buying stairlifts for narrow stairs?

1) Consider your own comfort needs as well as your narrow staircase

When choosing the right stairlift, the layout of the house is not the only consideration. It is also important that the stairlift provides a comfortable user experience.

For those who are unable to use standing or perch stairlifts and who need a narrow stair lift, a stairlift with a downward-facing seat might be the most comfortable option. Downward-facing stairlifts are designed to avoid clash points, which are points on  staircases where there is a risk that the seat may collide with obstacles, such as walls and bannisters.

Downward-facing stairlifts, like the perch stairlift and other models of niche stairlift, are often favoured by older clients who would like to avoid a standing journey, but whose narrow stair case poses a difficulty for seat stairlifts. A seat belt provides the buyer with plenty of comfort while using these stairlifts.

2) Don’t settle for your first offer

Many websites and stairlift manufacturers do nothing more than gather customer enquiries and pass on this data for a commission. Particularly in the case of vulnerable older customers, it is sensible to ask for the support of a family member or a trusted friend when dealing with visiting agents.

Don’t forget you can also look at getting second hand stairlifts or a used stairlift to keep your costs down.

3) Avoid pressure-selling tactics

It is a good idea to consult the pages on stairlifts at to make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller. Please be cautious when making your purchase. high initial offers followed by discounts and day-long sales are common dodgy sales practices.

If you prefer you can also look at a stairlift rental rather than buying outright. Some rental services provide appropriate stairlifts for narrow stairs.

Some companies resort to pressure-selling tactics for extended warranties and maintenance contracts during home visits or over the phone. They may use your first name- by using your first name, they try to seem friendly and pressure you into paying more. It is a good idea not to rush into a decision.

Prepare some questions for the seller, find alternative quotes and consult your family or other advisors before parting with your money. There is a range of narrow stairlifts out there at varying prices, so make sure you use the information and advice we have provided to select one with the right properties to provide solutions to your mobility challenges.

Stairlifts for narrow curved stairs

There are a few things to consider when choosing a stairlift for narrow, curved stairs. First, you’ll want to make sure that the stairlift is specifically designed for use on curved stairs. Second, you’ll want to measure the width of your stairs to ensure that the stairlift will fit comfortably. Finally, you’ll want to check the weight capacity of the stairlift to make sure it can accommodate your needs.

When it comes to choosing a stairlift for narrow, curved stairs, there are a few different options available. One option is a straight stairlift, which can be customized to fit your specific staircase. Another option is a curved stairlift, which is specifically designed for use on curved stairs.

What is the smallest stair lift?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the size of stair lifts can vary depending on the make and model. However, some stair lifts are designed specifically for smaller spaces, so these may be the smallest available option. It is always best to consult with a professional to ensure you are choosing the best option for your needs.

Have A Free Consultation With A Stairlift Specialist

You can contact an Acorn stair lift specialist in one of 3 ways:

  • Option 1 – Call directly on – 0333 567 1612
  • Option 2 – Book an appointment directly in the calendar below, and one of the team will call you back at your chosen time
  • Option 3 – Leave your contact details and Acorn will get in touch with you

Option 1 - Call Acorn Stairlifts Directly


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Call us on : 0333 567 1612

Option 2 - Book an appointment, in the calendar below, for a callback when it's convenient

Option 3 - Leave your details and Acorn will get in touch

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                                                      Please note that Acorn Stairlifts undertake all calls.

More helpful articles about Stairlifts

Stairlift costs

The price of a stairlift can be expensive.  This articles examines the costs involved in buying a stairlift and what is involved in its installation.

Curved stairlifts

Curved stairlifts are necessary where you do not have a straight staircase.  In this article we look at what you need to consider if getting one.  

Reconditioned stairlifts

A reconditioned stairlift can be a good balance between a new and second hand stairlift.  In this article we look at what you need to look out for.

Used Stairlifts

A used stairlift is a good option if you are looking to save some money.  This article looks at what you need to think about if you want to buy one.  

second hand stairlifts

A second hand stairlift is a great cheap option if you need to be careful about what you spend.  In this article we look at what you need to consider.

stairlift rental

Buying a stairlift can be expensive.  Therefore, and especially if you need it on a temporary basis, renting one could be a good option to consider.

cheap stairlifts

Stairlifts range in prices.  This article looks at what you need to consider if you want to buy a cheap stairlift and what it may cost you.

Stairlifts for Narrow stairs

If you have a narrow set of stairs then you may need a specialist staircase.  In this article we look at the issues involved in getting one fitted.

Paying for a stairlift

Equity Release is one way that you can pay for your stairlift.   Use our calculator to see how much money you could receive from your home.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a stairlift for narrow stairs?

A stairlift for narrow stairs is a type of mobility device designed to aid individuals with limited mobility in navigating a staircase with limited space safely. These stairlifts are designed to fit on narrow staircases and typically have a slim profile to conserve space.

How much does a stairlift for narrow stairs cost in the UK?

The cost of a stairlift for narrow stairs in the United Kingdom can vary depending on the features and specifications required. On average, a straight stairlift for narrow stairs will cost between £3,000 and £5,000, while a curved stairlift for narrow stairs can cost between £5,000 and £10,000. However, the actual cost will depend on the individual’s specific needs.

How narrow does a staircase need to be to require a stairlift for narrow stairs?

A staircase is narrow if its width is less than 750 mm. If a staircase is narrower than this, a stairlift for narrow stairs may be required. However, the specific requirements will depend on the individual’s mobility needs and the staircase’s dimensions.

Can I install a stairlift for narrow stairs myself?

You are not advised to install a stairlift for narrow stairs on your own, as doing so requires specialised knowledge and equipment. Instead, hiring a reputable stairlift supplier or installer with experience installing stairlifts on narrow stairs is advised. A professional installer can advise you on the best type of stairlift for your specific needs and ensure that the stairlift is installed correctly. In addition, a professional installer can guarantee that the stairlift is installed correctly and safely to ensure the highest level of safety and comfort.

Meet the author

Hayley Kenyon

Hayley Kenyon

Hayley is responsible for writing content on the site as well as managing the social media channels. She has a degree in Art and Humanities. Hayley has been reviewing and writing on products for a number of years and uses her experience to recommend the best products.

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