How to Choose Between a Stairlift and a Platform Lift

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that by 2030, the United States—for the first time ever—will have more 65-and-older residents than children. All boomers and one-fifth of the total population will have reached the traditional retirement age of 65. The agency’s projection marks a milestone for our society, and it reflects the ongoing impact of the giant boomer generation born in just after World War II.

Boomers may be getting older, but they have no intention of being aged out of their homes. Nearly 75% of people hope to stay in their homes as they age, according to a poll of 1,616 people age 45 and older conducted by AARP. And the older people get, the more likely they are to want to stay put.

Caring for a relative with limited mobility can be a challenge, but plenty of solutions are out there. For those unable to climb stairs due to a disability, a progressive illness, or simply due to aging, a stairlift or platform wheelchair lift is often the best solution.

The first thing to do when evaluating the need for a lift is to consider the user’s level of mobility. This way, you’ll feel at ease knowing you’re making the best possible choice for their situation with safety as the top priority. You can also ensure your loved one enjoys their independence for as long as possible.

Since the most popular mobility solutions are platform lifts and stairlifts, let’s take a look at their features and differences.


Sometimes called chairlifts, stairlifts are great for people still able to walk easily, but may have trouble climbing stairs. It’s also a good choice for those who can easily transfer from a wheelchair to the stairlift seat by themselves.

The stairlift is a simple set up and is easily installed. The track takes the seat up and down the stairs which allows those with mobility issues to move themselves comfortably.

Stairlifts can be installed on either a straight or curved staircase. The equipment is motorized and battery-operated, so it works even during a power outage. There are two main types of stairlifts: Straight rail and custom curved rail. The straight rail variations are perfect for stairs without any turns, curves, or landings and can often be installed in a day or two since they don’t need customization.

Custom curved stairlifts will be needed for nearly any other stair case—whether you have a split-level house, a curved stair case, or a number of other design elements. Due to the uniqueness of curved staircases, this type of stairlift must be custom made. Because the process is more complex, it may take a few weeks for the installation to be complete.

If you have a loved one who is relatively agile for their age, but can still use some help climbing stairs, the stairlift is your best bet. He or she can maintain independence at home but have assistance when needed.

Platform Lifts

A platform lift is what most people think of when they think about a wheelchair lift. Although similar to elevators in terms of accessible design, platform lifts are much easier to add to an existing home because they don’t need remodeling work to be installed—they’re also much cheaper than an elevator. Platform lifts are the best for those who can no longer transfer out of their wheelchair by themselves.

The most common kind of platform lift is the vertical lift. It carries a person while on a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility aid on a platform, directly from one floor to another. A platform lift won’t take up as much real estate as an elevator, but it may require adjustments in layout and design.

Now that you know the differences between a stairlift and a platform lift it should be much easier to come to a decision as to what’s best for your loved one. Not only can the staff at Liftavator recommend the best stairlift for your situation and home, but we’ll be on hand to answer any questions you have as you start using your new lift.

When you’re ready, a member of our team will visit your home to determine which stairlift or platform lift meets your specific needs. When a final decision is made, we’ll book a day for installation.

We’re proud to offer a five-year warranty on all our products. If service is ever needed, our technicians will ensure it’s in perfect working order—giving you the peace of mind your lift will never leave you stranded. We recommend a bi-annual service for all our products where we check all operational functions. The process usually takes about an hour.

For more information on residential and commercial elevators, stairlifts, vertilifts, ramps, and more, visit or call (252) 634-1717 today.

(Sources: Liftavator; AARP; U.S. Census Bureau; Disabled Living Foundation; Consumers Advocate Organization; and Retirement Living, LLC.)


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