Stairlift chairs fall into two main categories – straight and curved. The difference is fairly self explanatory. Straight stairlift chairs can only go up a straight flight of stairs with no bend or curve in it, wherease curved stairlift chairs can navigate around bends in your staircase. How can you tell if you have a straight or curved stairway? Well it might seem obvious, but occasionally it can be a little confusing. You will most likely need a curved stairlift if your staircase has any sort of bend in it, for example if you have a small half landing half way up the stairs and then the direction of the stairs changes slightly, you will need a curved stairlift, or if your stairway is a spiral staircase or has a 90 degree flat turn or 90 degree short radius turn in it half way up or near the top. Stairways come in so many different shapes and sizes, but you needn't worry, because good chairlifts will be designed and created especially for your own home. Measurements will be taken and the rails will be constructed to the unique topography of your stairs. Curved stairlift chairs should always be bespoke to ensure that they fit properly and do not snag or get stuck at the curve or take up too much space.
In some cases, you can in fact install two straight stairlift chairs instead of one curved one – this is usually possible if your stairs take a full 180 degree bend or a 90 degree bend half way up. However, it is actually safer to have a curved stairlift in these cases anyway because then you won't have to transfer from one lift to the other mid way through. One of the reasons people often get two straight stairlift chairs in the case of having a 180 degree bend in their stairway is that they think all stairlifts need to be attached to a wall and usually in a stairway with a 180 degree bend, you will have a wall halfway up and then if you follow the wall around the bend, you will have a bannister. However, many stairlift chairs do not need to be attached to the wall and are instead installed at ground level into the stairs, making them very stable and suitable for installation either on the wall side or the bannister side of the stairway.
Stairways that have a 90 degree short radius turn usually have a few stairs that navigate the turn whereas a 90 degree flat turn will actually have a flat landing between two flights of stairs. Even if the landing on a 90 degree flat turn is very small, it is still considered a flat turn. If you elect to have two straight stairlifts installed instead of a curved stairlift on a 90 degree short radius type staircase, you will most probably have some alteration done to the stairs on the bend to make a safe transfer platform between your two stairlift chairs. Normally this alteration amounts to building up slight one stair and removing a small amount of the step immediately above it to give a greater area to one of the stairs on the bend so that it then resembles more of a flat turn. Keep in mind also that if you go for 2 straight lifts instead of 1 curved, you will have to have 2 actual chairs.