Limited mobility, whether it develops gradually over time or suddenly, can often restrict an individual from accessing the entirety of their home.

Sadly, for many individuals living with such limitations, not being able to tackle the stairs can be devastating. Often it means being forced out of their property, having to reduce the space they occupy in their home or continuing to struggle, which poses a dangerous risk of falling.

Enter the through-floor lift – the perfect solution when stairs aren’t an option for your customer or patient.

What Is A Through-Floor Lift?

A through-floor lift is a home lift that works very similarly to the elevators we see all around us. Supermarkets, libraries, department stores, hospitals… These common lift systems can transport multiple people, trolleys, pushchairs and hospital beds up and down between floors by way of a control panel within the lift wall.

Unlike your conventional elevator, a through-floor lift is smaller and designed to transport a single user rather than a gaggle of avid shoppers. 

Who Do They Help? 

Through-the-floor lifts are often used as a solution when a stairlift can’t be installed. There are a few reasons why this may be the case:

Property Problems

Stairlifts, which operate using a rail running up the staircase, only suit standard stairs. If you have a narrow staircase, one that turns or has radiators in the way, a stairlift won’t be suitable. 

Mobility Limitations

A user may not be able to transfer themselves to and from a stairlift or may not find the position to use a stairlift comfortable.

In these instances, a through-the-floor lift can provide a simple solution that will allow easy access to all floors of a house.

How Does It Work?

There are four types of through-floor lifts on the market. Let’s run through how each one works. 

Traction Lifts

Domestic traction lifts use cables and a counterweight to move up and down within a lift shaft, transporting a user between floors of the home. Constant use means the cables integral to the operation of traction lifts need replacing around every five years, making this style of home lift costly to maintain.

Vacuum Lifts

A system of pumps and turbines powers these lifts by changing the air pressure in the spaces above and below the lift cab. A vacuum created above the cab sucks it upwards to transport its user up through the floors of the building, and the slow, constant release of air pressure takes the cab back down again when activated. 

Hydraulic Lifts

Needing a lot of space as well as a separate room for all of the machinery, hydraulic lifts are expensive to buy and maintain. The way they work involves a pump pushing hydraulic fluid through to a jack, in turn sending the lift up and down by a piston.


Non-Hydraulic Lifts

Non-hydraulic lifts are silent and plug into a regular domestic power socket, making them a popular choice for modern homes. Travelling on self-supporting rails, non-hydraulic lifts run using a tiny motor stationed within the lift itself. 

Compared to the other types of home lifts, non-hydraulic lifts have far fewer installation requirements, maximise living space with a compact footprint and are surprisingly affordable. 

How Much Does A Through-Floor Lift Cost?

Alongside the cost of the lift unit itself, site preparation, installation and maintenance will also incur extra charges. Even shipping costs can be pricey, so be sure to check what’s included when you’re shopping around. 

Here’s a rundown of ballpark prices for lifts on the market today:

Traction Lifts

Traction lifts come up top when comparing costs, ranging between £28,000 and £33,000.

Vacuum Lifts

The starting price for a vacuum lift is around £28,000, with different models costing more.

Hydraulic Lifts

For a mid-range hydraulic lift requiring standard installation, you’re looking at an investment of £23,000 to £28,000.

Non-Hydraulic Lifts

And the winner, if you hadn’t guessed already, is the non-hydraulic lift. Easy to install and maintain, with fantastic features and a small footprint, this home lift also offers the best value for money. Starting prices for non-hydraulic lifts can be as little as £15,000 to £17,000.

Remember, Help Might Be Available

Your patient or customer might qualify for financial help towards a through-floor lift. Read more about funding adaptations in our recent blog

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How Long Does Installation Take?

Some home lifts may take longer to install than others.

For through-floor lifts requiring a lot of machinery, like hydraulic lifts, set up and installation will be more intrusive and lengthy. Non-hydraulic lifts are far easier to get up and running, but all types of through-floor lifts require a certain amount of preparatory building work. 

Following an initial survey, the necessary prep work will be carried out, and expert home lift installers should be able to fit a lift in less than two days. 

Stairlifts Aren’t Your Only Option

Stairlifts are often the most common assumption when thinking about accessibility in the home, but they aren’t always a practical solution.

Through-floor lifts are a fantastic way of achieving independence and comfort for limited-mobility patients and customers at home and can be surprisingly pleasing to the eye. 

Curious about other types of home lifts? Read our comprehensive guide to home lifts for everything you need to know.