how to use a stairlift

At 1st Choice Stairlifts we ensure that the stairlift we recommend to you before purchase is not only the best to suit your needs but also the simplest.
There are a lot of different types of stairlift, and many of them have different features which help suit the needs of the individual. We don’t believe in a “one stairlift fits all” approach, so we tailor our recommendations to find the one that will work best for you.
Don’t forget you can always visit our showroom where our fully qualified Product Advisors will show you a stairlift in more detail and give you a supervised test drive. This way you’ll be able to see for yourself just how easy it is to use a stairlift.

Using a Stairlift is as easy as A, B, C

Are you sitting comfortably? – Fold down the stairlift chair and footrest (if they are folded up) and sit in the chair.

Buckle Up! – Make sure your seatbelt is fastened for complete safety when in transit.

Climb the stairs. – Simply press the joystick control in the direction you want to travel and keep constant pressure on it until the lift stops. You can get off the stairlift using the swivel seat.

Standard Stairlift Features

  • Constant pressure joystick or button control for safety
  • Battery powered operation so it will work in the event of a power cut
  • Pressure sensitive safety edges which will stop the lift if it meets an obstruction
  • A rail that’s screwed through the steps and not attached to your wall
  • A safety belt for you to wear in travel
  • Wall controls at top and bottom of the stairs to call/send/park your stairlift

Weight limits on stairlifts vary from model to model however, standard models generally take a weight capacity of around 19-22 stone with heavy duty models taking up to 26 stone.

Optional Stairlift Features

Below, we have information about optional safety features that can be included with your lift if we believe they would be better suited to your needs. We have information about each feature as well as instructions on how they work, and how to use them.

When you have a stairlift installed, we give you full training and instruction on how to use your stairlift safely. We also make sure that you are able to use it before we leave. We are only a phone call away so if you had any questions after we have gone, we’re always here to help. Call us on 01249 814528.


There are a range of seat options for stairlifts depending on which model you choose. Stairlift chair options include a manual swivel seat, powered swivel seat or a fixed seat. Fixed seats are suitable for those with an overrun curved lift onto a landing area and therefore don’t need a swivel seat. We will take into consideration how you are able to get on and off a stairlift, taking your range of movement into account.
All stairlifts have a seat height which needs to fit you perfectly so that you can get on and off the lift safely and easily. Some models will come in a ‘one seat height fits all’ while others will have an adjustable seat height which is set by an engineer when the lift is installed to get the best seat height for you.

Manual Swivel Seats

manual swivel seat

A stairlift comes with a manual swivel seat as standard. This enables you to rotate the chair around at the top of the stairs to get on and off the seat. The manual swivel mechanism operates by a ‘push down’ or ‘pull up’ lever at the side of the chair. It swivels around an office chair would. When the chair reaches the correct position, the chair locks into place allowing you to get on and off. The chair will then block the stairs at the top for safety. You will need dexterity in your hands to operate the swivel lever and range of movement to turn the chair yourself. If you’re not able to do this we may recommend a powered swivel seat.


Powered Swivel Seats

A powered swivel is available on many of our lifts as an optional extra. In this case, when you get to the top of the stairs, you will keep pressure on the joystick control and the seat will automatically turn and stop in the end position.

Some models have two-way swivel where the chair can swivel at the top and bottom of the stairs. This is great for narrow hallways and where space is restricted.

Some models are fantastically engineered to power swivel into a position to negotiate very tight, curved stairs. This enables stairlifts to be fitted where they previously couldn’t be.


Every stairlift comes with a safety seat belt as standard. All stairlift users must wear a seatbelt whilst using their lift. Every manufacturer has their own specially designed belt specific to their model. However, there are harnesses that can be fitted for those people with more complex needs. For more information or to try these options for yourself, call 01249 814528 to book a stairlift showroom visit.

Traditional Set   Clip belt

Standard Clip Seatbelt

A lot of stairlifts come with a standard clip seat belt, the size of which can be adjusted to fit the user. The belt clips and unclips by squeezing the mechanism. When the seatbelt is released, the two parts of the seatbelt hang freely on either side of the chair

ULTIMATE  Seat belt retracted close up

Reeling Seatbelt

Another option which is often standard on some models is a reeling seatbelt. Working on the same principle as a car seat belt, it automatically reels back into the casing when it is not fastened. The reeling seatbelt has an inertia mechanism, preventing quick and sudden movements. This helps the user feel completely secure when in travel.

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Four-Point Harness

Four-point harnesses are the standard harness for a stairlift and can be fastened and closed either by the user or a carer. The release button is suppressed to prevent the harness from accidentally being released. It can be fitted with padding to make it as comfortable as the user needs.

Five-Point Harness

The five-point harness is a very secure stairlift harness that is recommended for people who require a very secure design. The release mechanism ensures the user is unable to remove the harness without assistance and the five-point design keeps them secure and still during travel.


Traditional Set folding up lift

When the stairlift is not in use, most people prefer to leave the stairlift folded down in the ‘ready to go’ position. However, there may be other people in your house and therefore, you may want to fold the lift to free up space on the staircase. The seat arms and seat base normally folds up manually. If you need to fold up the footrest but cannot bend down to do so, we have options to help you.

Manual Footrests

A manual footrest is the standard fitting on a stairlift. It means that you will need to bend down to fold up the footrest by hand, or you can gently flip up with an aid such as a walking stick. You might want to send the stairlift up a few steps until the footrest is around your waist height and fold it up there. However, you will need to make sure you keep your stairlift on a charge point. If you don’t have the need to fold your lift up regularly and would prefer to leave it down most of the time, this is perfect for you.

Footrest Linkage

The footrest can be fitted with a linkage, which folds the footrest away when the seat is folded. If you can reach down slightly, but find it difficult reaching the floor, this option could be suitable for you. The seat is heavier with a footrest linkage, therefore a little more strength is required to raise and lower the seat. With this type of footrest you cannot use the footrest independently to the seat.

Powered Footrest

A powered footrest is effortless and folds the stairlift footrest up with the press of a button, usually found on the armrest. This is the best option available for independent access and if you need to keep your stairlifts folded up for most of the time.


Most standard stairlifts take a maximum weight of 19 to 22 stone. However, we do have some bariatric stairlifts available for straight and curved staircase layouts which may take up to 26 stone. Due to the nature of heavy duty stairlifts, options can be limited depending on which lifts are compatible with the design of your staircase.


For bariatric needs, it may be worth considering  installing a home lift which can take a weight capacity up to 40 stone. Home Lifts are often used as a preferred option for bariatric clients. Bariatric stairlifts can be fitted with wider armrests to give you a more comfortable ride when using the stairlift. To give you extra stability and support, some of our heavy duty stair lifts can be fitted with a footrest that has a wider and longer footplate. This can make transferring at the top of the stairs easier. If you are looking for a heavy duty stair lift please get in touch, our highly experienced advisors will be able to discuss the options which are currently available. Then, if appropriate, we can send one of our assessors out to visit your home to conduct a staircase survey.

For all Bariatric stair lift enquiries, please call us on 01249 814528, we look forward to hearing from you.


There are lots of rail options for your stair lift which are designed to ensure the lift is perfect for you and your stairs. We have solutions to keep your hallway clear when the stairlift isn’t in use and rail finishes to make it safe and convenient for you to get on and off your lift.

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Drop Nose

If you have a doorway or hallway at the bottom of the stairs, it’s important that we recommend a rail that will keep the floor clear of any intrusion. A drop nose rail drops vertically down to the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

Powered Folding Hinge

If you have a doorway or hallway at the bottomA folding hinge will fold away when the lift is not in use, leaving the entire hallway completely clear. The hinge may fold up or down, depending on which lift model we install. A similar solution is a sliding hinge which tucks under the rail.

Designated Parking Point

If there isn’t enough space at the top or bottom of the stairs to park the lift at all times, we may recommend a designated parking point. This brings the lift round to a space clear of the stairs, either for convenience or so you can safely get on and off away from the stairs.

Single Tube Rail

When choosing a curved stairlift, it is important to know that there are two distinct types of curved lift rail. The first is the single tube rail, which has one piece of rail that the lift travels along is very low profile along the staircase and reduces the visibility of the lift in your home.

Dual Tube Rail

The second type of curved stairlift rail is the dual or double tube rail. As the name suggests, the rail consists of two rails that run parallel to each other. Both rails move closer together and further away at various points to keep the chair lift vertical throughout its travel up and down the stairs.

90 degree bend

A 90 degree bend is the most common curved stairlift layout that we install. It is either used on a set of fan steps around a right-angled corner or on a quarter landing. Either way, we have a lift that’s ideal for your staircase layout.

180 degree bend

It is also possible to install a stairlift where there is a 180 degree bend in the staircase. Even with a half landing, two staggered quarter landings or fan steps, we will find a suitable stairlift for you.

Custom Bend

Not all bends in the staircase are just 90 degrees or 180 degrees. No matter what angle your staircase is, we can find a lift to fit it perfectly.

Spiral Staircase

We can also fit a stairlift on a spiral staircase, which many people do not believe is possible. In most cases, we will try to fit the chair lift on the inside of the spiral stairs to maximise the amount of room other people have to use the stairs.

Top or Bottom Overrun

An overrun at the top or bottom is a common solution on curved staircase layouts. They bring the lift away from the edge of the stairs to a clear space for the user to get on and off the lift. Not only can this option keep the user safe and secure when getting on and off, it also keeps the staircase completely clear for other people to use.


There are several joystick options to suit your preferences and make it easier to control the stairlift. Each lift comes with slightly different control styles and designs, but they essentially come in three specific styles – a standard joystick, a rocker switch and an ergonomic joystick.

standard joystick

Standard Joystick

The first design is the standard joystick. This is, as you can see, an elongated design which can operate the lift with very light pressure. It is an ideal stairlift control mechanism for a lot of people as it gives them easy access to the stair lift controls from a comfortable position. Some models also offer a shortened joystick which gives the same control mechanism but with a greatly reduced size.

rocker switch

Rocker Switch

The second style of stairlift control is a rocker switch. This is a similar application to the standard joystick but rather than applying directional pressure left or right, the lift is operated by pressing down on either side of the rocker switch, which some people find more comfortable.

ergo switch

Ergonomic Switch

Another style of chair lift control is an ergonomic joystick. This type of control is designed to be operated with the greatest amount of ease and reduce the amount of stress in the users’ hand when operating the lift. It is usually considered for use if you have arthritis or another condition that may make controlling the lift uncomfortable.

paddle switch

Arms Controls

There are other designs, such as on the Minivator stairlifts which have a paddle or toggle switch located at the end of the arm, allowing control of the stairlift without raising the hand and wrist to operate the controls.


Because all stair lifts these days are powered by on-board batteries, it is important to check that your lift is always on charge when it is not in use. Luckily, there are plenty of different options for making sure that your lift is always charging, no matter how complicated your staircase is.

Charging Points

Charging point 305x220

Most stairlifts are fitted with charging points, one at the top and one at the bottom. Chair lift charging points come in different shapes and sizes but can easily be identified. They have a metal conducting strip which connects to your stairlift when it reaches the end of its travel. This will charge your stairlift when it is not in use.

Continuous Charge

Continuous charge strip 305x220

Some straight stairlifts have a continuous charging strip along the entire rail, which means that the lift can charge anywhere. This is a handy feature when there isn’t much space at either the top or the bottom of the stairs, as the user can send the lift up a few steps and keep the hallway clear of obstruction.

Additional Parking Point

Another solution is to have an additional parking point, which allows you to send the stairlift up to park away from the top or bottom of the stairs to keep both the top landing and bottom hallway clear.

Intermediate Parking Point

If your stair lift is going up two flights of stairs, or if there is any kind of landing you still want to be able to get to easily. We can install the lift with an intermediate parking point. This will mean that you can park the lift on the first landing and the lift continue to charge.

Spur Power Point

All of our stairlifts are powered through a standard 13A spur powerpoint – the same plug socket you would use for any household appliance. When surveying your house, our surveyor will check to see if there is an available power socket at the top or bottom of the stairs to use for your stair lift. If you do not have an available spur power point, we will install one for you.

Stairlift Parts

Our Stairlift parts page has more information on the extensive range we have in stock. Questions about stairlift batteries? Checkout our in depth article – the Ultimate Guide to Stairlift Batteries

Areas we cover

We cover all of Wiltshire as well as parts of Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Berkshire. For a full map of our coverage areas please click here.