How-to Make Your Stairs Handicap Accessible

How-to Make Your Stairs Handicap Accessible

Today, providing better access to upper levels of a home or commercial building matters in many situations. Whether you simply want to promote better household mobility, or your business must find cost-effective ways to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, you may discover a need to make stairways easier to navigate for everyone. Consider these five strategies:

Maintain Staircases

In some cases, simply maintaining a staircase properly greatly enhances access to the upper levels of a residence. Replacing outdated narrow steps with broader, wider stairs may enable some individuals to access upper floors more easily. Ensure stairways remain clutter-free and uniform in step width. Every year in the United States, slips and falls on stairs cause a significant number of serious or fatal household injuries. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, broken or uneven stairs frequently contribute to this problem.

Add Railings And Hand Supports

Adding sturdy railings and other hand supports also improves the safety of some staircases. If someone has difficulty climbing, a reliable hand support offers great assistance. For instance, handrails may enable young children to successfully reach the top of a stairway without falling.

Ramps For Mild Elevations

Wheelchair-accessible ramps along a portion of a staircase provide a great option for overcoming barriers to entry in some situations. While unsuitable for very steep staircases, professionally installed ramps offer a great way to expand access to mildly elevated exterior entrances or interior landings.

Automatic Chair Lifts

Today, two categories of innovative automatic chair lifts enable mobility impaired individuals to ride in comfort up one (or more) flights of stairs. Choose a straight or “curved” lift system, depending upon your staircase design. These systems require professional installation for safety reasons. People on crutches or in wheelchairs and mobility-impaired seniors often benefit from this type of residential modification. Instead of climbing or descending stairs, individuals can ride between different levels of a home or building securely.


Although sometimes expensive to install, an elevator also represents a very helpful option in enhancing access to upper levels of a residence or office building. Select a model with sufficient width to permit easy wheelchair access. In many settings, elevators offer an alternative to stairways. Available systems fall into three broad categories: hydraulic, traction or pneumatic (the least expensive option with an average cost of $23,000 to $57,000 to purchase and install). Adding an elevator during new home construction usually proves more cost-effective than retro-fitting.

A Smart Investment

Enhancing stairway access usually provides a smart long term investment. You’ll enable people to enjoy safer, more comfortable mobility through the premises!

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