Stairlifts San Francisco

A Guide to Stairlifts for Tight Stairs

Here in San Francisco, we can sometimes have tight stair wells. The unlimited variety of stair designs can pose a problem for other stairlift companies, but Stannah can install stairlifts in any stairway due to the different stairlift models we offer. We have stairlifts for narrow, straight and curved, stairs. 

We’ve been installing stairlifts since 1987, and realize there is a lot to take into consideration before deciding a stairlift is the best option for you. In this guide we’ll walk you through what features apply to narrow staircases, typical of those in San Francisco homes, including the stairlift parts, different types of stair cases, and options available to you as a resident of San Francisco.

Stairlift Components

The StairLift Rail

A stairlift is made up of three things: the rail, the carriage, and the seat. The rail is what get’s mounted to the stair case first. A rail can be either straight or curved (more on that later). Stannah stairlifts use a rack and pinion gear system. The stairlfit rail houses the rack, a series of teeth that the pinion (gear) on the stairlift “climbs” up or down the stairs.

Stairlift rails, in general, are mounted to the stairs with feet which are typically attached with a lag (wood or concrete). Nothing is attached to the walls. The walls cannot hold as much weight as the stair treads. The screws that hold your stairlift in place require only very small holes. So if you have a historic San Francisco home, you can retain the character of your home with a stairlift.


The carriage is what houses the “brains and muscles” of the stairlift. The motor gearbox, electronics, most of the safety switches and the batteries are within the carriage. It’s basically the hood of your car where the engine is kept. The pinion attaches to the motor gearbox which climbs the rack on the rail. There is a printed circuit board which acts as the brain of the stairlift. It tells it when to start and stop based on the signals it is reading from the switches and circuits of the chair. The carriage also displays an LED panel in case any troubleshooting is needed. This allows us to diagnose problems over the phone and help get repairs and service completed faster.

Our lifts work during a power outage. We all know here in San Francisco that we sometimes lose power. Stannah stairlifts function on battery power so if there is a loss of power to the house, the stairlift will keep on working. All of our stairlifts have tracks that contain tough copper strips that are always trickle charging the stairlift battery, so losing power won’t be a problem. Our stairlifts will continue to work on battery an average of up to 25 trips after a brown or black out. 

The Seat

This is the fun part. The seat is where you sit but it is more than that on a stairlift. It’s where you are safely taken up the stairs. The seat is very important. Comfort, performance, quality of materials, all of these matter. We offer several seat options but great to note are the safety features that come standard. Stannah stairlift chairs swivel to face the top of the stairs only, providing a safe way to get on or off and preventing swiveling down the stairs and inadvertently putting you in a dangerous position precariously perched at the top of your San Francisco home’s stairs. In addition, there are three ways to switch the power off for safety, two are located on the armrest of your chair. Our chairs also all come standard with seatbelts located in the easiest to reach place, right under the armrest. Lastly, the Stannah Stairlift footrest is button powered, which means you don’t have to bend over to fold or unfold the footrest. This button is also located right on the armrest.

Stairlift Types

Stairlifts for Straight San Francisco Stairs

Due to the many styles of homes found in San Francisco, staircases vary from straight, curved, multiples landings, and spiral; some of which are also narrow. There are two types of stairlifts that apply to the range of staircase types; they are straight and curved. A straight stairlift is suitable for straight stairs only; while a curved stairlift can be used in the case of landings, curved stairs or even spiral stairs. Both straight and curved Stannah stairlifts can be installed with plenty of room to spare for most narrow stairs, whether straight or curved.

A staircase is considered straight if it makes no turns and has no platforms, or what is called an intermediate landing. A straight stairlift is only suitable for this type of staircase, as the chair must maintain a relatively constant angle while it travels up and down the stairs.

Stairlifts for Curved San Francisco Stairs

Stannah curved stairlifts have a few unique features that put their quality above and beyond the average product and make them one of the best stairlifts for San Francisco homeowners. One notable feature is the way the track is installed. Many stairlifts are fitted together on site and in most cases will not fit tight to the wall. Stannah rails are custom made for your stairs so the stairlift takes up less space and operates much smoother. Your rail will be manufactured to the exact dimensions of your staircase not assembled with off-the-shelf, pre-manufactured bent pieces.

Our stairlifts work on ANY type of curved stairway because we custom make the rail. Our curved model is the most versatile stairlift available for narrow, curved stairs. It can work around bends. It can go on either side of the staircase and negotiate intermediate landings and corridors easily.

Stairlift Location

Indoor Stairs in San Francisco

Are your stairs outside or inside the home? Or do you have multiple staircases, one indoor and one outdoor? Stannah manufactures both indoor and outdoor straight stairlifts, and curved indoor only stairlifts. As a practical solution to the stairs, many customers opt to get multiple stairlifts, one for each of their staircases. And with our contact-free, professional installation it’s quick, easy and safe.

Indoor stairs in older San Francisco homes can be tight, steep and curved, making them difficult to go up and down. Our stairlifts experts will measure your stairs. These measurements are then used to custom manufacture and build a stairlift that is the best fit for your stairs, even if they are narrow.

Outdoor Stairs in San Francisco

For your ooutdoor stairs, Stannah manufactures straight outdoor stiarlifts. They are made of UV resistant plastic for that sunny San Francisco weather, and waterproof for those months of the year when rain is the norm. Each unit comes with it’s own chair cover to keep the elements out when not in use.

Rather than move your bedroom downstairs, reducing your life to one-story living, or not go outside as often as you’d like, adding a stairlift to your home will help you maintain access to your entire home and live independently.

Stairlift Traffic

Foot Traffic and Stairlift Parking Considerations on Narrow Stairs

The house “traffic patterns” at the bottom, on, and at the top of the stair case are an extremely important factor in deciding on what solution is appropriate for your home.  For most people the two-way powered swivel option for their Stannah is enough. It enables you to swivel the chair to the safest position at both the top and bottom of the stairs, particularly in tight spaces. 

Stair Lift Las Vegas

If you need to allow the front door, garage door, or closet door to open, then the Stannah retractable rail is highly recommended, especially if the bottom of your stairs is very close or adjacent to a door. The retractable rail for Stannah stairlifts is available as an add-on. This rail add-on is only available for straight stairlifts. As it is automated, the rail retracts on its hinge, out of the way when the stairlift goes upstairs and extending the track as you and the stairlift travel downstairs.

For curved staircases where traffic is also a concern, there is the Stannah curved rail. A Stannah curved stairlift can be designed to curve around corners, including at the end of the rail, around a wall if needed. The same can be done at the top of the stairs.

stair lift cost

Another thing to consider when it comes to your home’s traffic patterns is where the stairlift is parked. If your San Francisco home has tight stairs, whether straight or curved, with a Stannah stairlift you can choose a parking solution that best fits your needs. Additional stairlift parking options are available with the curved rail design. These options can put the stairlift in a location out of the way of those who regularly walk the stairs, as well as distancing it from the top of the stairs in consideration of safety. With the curved rail, a safe parking solution can be achieved. Even if your stairs are straight, opting for a curved rail can give you this flexibility.

Stairlift Dimensions

How narrow is narrow?

Stannah stairlift will work for staircases where the minimum width is 29 inches or even 28 inches in width. The length of your stairs will not be an issue for installation, as we can manufacture the rail to be any length needed; however it will be a factor in the total cost of the stairlift. The shortest stairlift we will manufacture is three steps, anything less than that and we would recommend a ramp, if possible.

Why buy a stairlift?

Why Stannah, San Francisco?

Commitment to Safety and Reliability If you want to stay in your home in the Bay Area, Stannah stairlifts can help. Stannah is first and foremost concerned with you and your loved one’s safety. Stannah ACME Home Elevator’s owner, Wes Rockhold, is a member of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) A17.1 Private Residence Elevator Committee and a member of the ASME A18.1 Committee.   Standard features included in the design of all models are focused on safety, such as a quality swivel seat, a track built to closely fit your stairs with additional parking options, and a button-powered footrest to eliminate the need to bend over. Stannah stairlifts come with multiple safety sensors on the chair, carriage and foot rest. If something were to drop in front of the chair while it was traveling, it would stop immediately due to these sensors. Another intrinsic design feature is our testing process. We put our stairlifts to their limits and ensure that the chairs will produce quality results for years to come.

There are a lot of other factors involved in choosing a stairlift for which we offer customizations that work with you. For example, let’s say that in addition to bad knees, you also have one arm that’s weaker than the other. We can move the chair controls to the stronger hand. Maybe person the stairlift is intended for can’t keep themselves upright in the chair. We can provide a 5 point or shoulder safety belt. Those are a few of the

Our stairlifts are installed in just half a day, contact-free. Our installation  process is quick, clean and safe, getting you back to doing what you love doing with as little downtime as possible. Our friendly installers will work with minimum fuss, tidy up afterwards, test the stairlift thoroughly and show you exactly how to use it before they leave, all contact-free. 

Safety and support are strong concerns here at Stannah ACME, Inc. While we pride ourselves on our stairlifts, San Francisco residents also have direct access to our support and emergency help that’s just a phone call away. All in all, we know that our customers will feel at home with their top of the line stairlifts. San Francisco can rest assured knowing that it’s being provided top quality service and products by ACME, Inc. To get an idea on costs, check out this information here.

Veteran, Family owned and operated Terry founded ACME Home Elevator in 1987. Nancy Pope, Terry’s wife, joined soon after. Acme became a multi-generational company when Terry and Nancy’s son, Wes, became ACME’s President. Both Wes and Terry are US Navy veterans. Terry having served in the Vietnam war and Wes in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Today as a Stannah company, and with Wes as General Manager, we continue our commitment to customers by providing service from the first phone call until you don’t need us anymore.

Call us at 800-888-5267 to learn more about our San Francisco Office.

Contact Us

Northern California

ACME Home Elevator
4740 E 2nd St STE 20, Benicia, CA 94510

Southern California

ACME Home Elevator
11612 Knott Ave Suite G2, Garden Grove, CA 92841