The Washington, DC metropolitan area is an outstanding region in which to age in place. Whether you live in urban locations like Capitol Hill or Georgetown, or one of the many suburbs in Montgomery or Fairfax County, the area has something for everyone. If you love living here, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to increase the accessibility of your DC area home. If your stairway has curves to it, you may have considered curved chair lifts.
But did you know there are two different kinds of curved chair lifts? We’ll break down these two main categories: tube rail and flat rail.
Let’s start with hollow tube rail chair lifts. This form of a curved chair lift is exactly what you’d expect it to be; the rail consists of one or two tubes, curved in such a way that they will fit the bends and turns of your particular staircase. The tubes retain some flexibility even after installation, so they have a lower weight limit of about 275 pounds. They will also typically feature exposed gears, which could be a concern around children or loose clothing.
On to the next category of curved chair lifts: flat rails. Complicating matters is the fact that there are two types of flat rails as well. Let’s start with modular flat rails. This consists of individual pieces of flat rail that you can assemble to fit the curves of your staircase. In other words, the individual pieces are not custom-made, but they are assembled in such a way as to suit your needs. These are inexpensive and installation is a jiffy, but they come with a few pitfalls. The weight limit is low—about as much as a hollow tube rail. They also tend to have a bumpier ride as the chair travels over the individual pieces of rail.
The gold standard of curved chair lifts with flat rails is the custom flat rail. As you might imagine, the manufacturer designs these to fit your individual staircase precisely. Accessibility professionals will visit your home, and take photographs and measurements for the manufacturing process. This process typically takes 2-4 weeks, but the dividends are worth it. The ride is as smooth as can be, and it’s unrivaled in terms of speed. The weight limit can be as high as 400 pounds. You don’t have to worry about exposed gears, and they will even take up less space in your stairway!
Signature Elevators & Accessible Design, LLC works with leading manufacturers to provide you with the beautiful residential elevator that you need. Located in Rockville, MD, we have years of experience with incorporating elevators into multi-story homes and working with customers to ensure the elevator meets their specific needs. With styles from modern tubes to wood-paneled cabs, Signature Elevators has all the tools you need to build the perfect elevator for your home! Contact us at (301) 251-1658 for more information. The manufacturers we represent are: