How Much Does It Cost to Install a Chair Lift or Stair Lift?

by Team HomeServe
Chair lift for disabled and elderly people at library stairs

Multistory homes offer multiple benefits. Having a living space split up onto several floors can give your family more room to spread out. However, for seniors and people who have mobility limitations, stairs are an obstacle that may keep them on one level of the home. Stair chair lifts help solve this issue by increasing mobility and independence.

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Looking to install a stair chair lift in your home? Here’s a quick primer on what you can expect to pay.

What Is a Stair Chair Lift?

A stair chair lift is a motorized chair that moves up and down a track on stairs. Someone who is unable to maneuver the steps can sit in the chair and ride safely up and down to move between floors.

There are other types of stair lifts, like the platform lift. These are typically made to accommodate wheelchairs. It works similarly to a chair lift; a person can wheel their chair onto the platform and take the same ride up or down a flight of steps.

When you’re researching chair lifts, you might also come across lift chairs. Lift chairs are specialty recliners or other types of chairs equipped with motors that lift the chair up and forward, supporting the user as they stand up. These devices are also designed to increase independence, but they’re not the same thing as stair chair lifts.

How Much Do Stair Lifts Cost?

Cost here depends on a variety of factors, including what type of lift you need, the structure of your stairwell and who will do the installation. Here's a breakdown of some of the common cost factors for electric stair lift costs, according to Lifeway Mobility.

The actual stair lift can cost between $2,200 and $8,000 (CAD 3,000 and CAD 11,000), on average. Higher-end models cost more. Other factors that can impact the cost of a stair lift include:

  • Whether it's made for indoor or outdoor use or both
  • Optional features such as armrests, tilt seating and controls for speed.
  • Whether rails fold up out of the way when not in use.
  • The maximum weight limits for the chair
  • Curves and other stair obstacles

Customization can add up to $10,000 (CAD 14,000) to the project price, according to Bob Vila. Curved staircases, staircases with more than 14 steps or other specialty stair situations may require custom lifts.

According to Forbes, installation (labor) costs are usually included in the overall price. If they aren’t, expect labor to add 15% to 20% to the price.

Renting a Stair Lift

You can also rent a stair chair lift in some cases. If the accommodation is temporary — for example, if it's required after a surgery or injury, or you know that the person using the lift will not be living in the home long-term — a temporary installation is cheaper and may make more sense than purchasing and installing a more expensive, permanent stair lift.

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Are Stair Chair Lifts Covered by Medicare?

Medicare and other traditional insurance companies don't cover stair chair lifts. This might be true even if a doctor ordered the chair lift for you. However, depending on which state you live in, you might be eligible for a Medicaid Waiver program that covers modifications to homes that are necessary for mobility and independence. Check with your state's Medicaid program to find out if you qualify for such coverage.

Other options for paying for a stair chair lift can include:

  • A home equity line of credit or loan
  • Other types of insurance coverage, including disability or auto insurance if you need a stairlift due to a disability or injury caused by a covered accident
  • Assistance grants via programs offered by local agencies or entities such as the Department of Veterans Affairs

Can You Install a Chair Lift Yourself?

With installation accounting for a large chunk of the stair lift cost, it's understandable that homeowners or family members might consider a DIY approach here. Just make sure you consider all the factors and the risks. Here are some questions to ask before you attempt a DIY installation:

Is It a Straight Staircase?

You can buy chair lift kits for straight staircases with up to 14 steps. If you're dealing with anything else, you may need a custom stair lift or special retrofitting work, which is better left to professional installers.

Do You Have the Right Tools?

You're not going to want to tackle this job with just a trusty screwdriver and hammer. You'll need a drill and other power tools to ensure the stair chair lift is installed correctly.

Are You Confident in Your Skills?

Someone is going to be riding up and down this device on a regular basis, so safety is paramount. Ensure you're confident in your ability to install the device correctly and securely to prevent potential injuries or malfunctions.

Is Electrical Power Readily Available?

Stairwells don't tend to come equipped with wall outlets, which means some electrical work might be required to run power to the right location. If this is the case, you might want to call an electrician to ensure the work is done safely.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.