How can I make stairways more accessible?

Here are some tips for making stairways more accessible:
  • Install railings on both sides of a stairway so that you have support on either or both sides. Make sure that railings are mounted securely into studs and extend a little beyond the very top step and very bottom step. Railings should be sturdy enough to support 250 pounds at any point.
  • Paint stair treads a different color than the risers or install colored treads over carpeted stairs (make sure these are affixed securely) so that you can easily see where each step begins and ends. You might paint every other stair a bright color or mark the edge of steps (or any height change) with contrasting or luminescent paint or tape.
  • Reduce tripping hazards by closing off any open risers and reducing any “nosing” (that part of the tread that extends over the riser) to less than 1 inch -- either bevel the edge or add a strip of trim or molding to the riser.
  • Keep stairways well lit. Increase light bulb wattage and install extra fixtures along the wall if necessary so that all stairs are fully illuminated. You might add tracer lights (like in theaters) to the edge of each stair or mount small low-wattage deck lights (like sidelights at theaters) on or into stair risers to light each step. Check landscaping companies or departments for these inexpensive light fixtures. Note: If mounted in the middle of the stair riser, be sure to use a louvered design so that when you are going up the stairs, the lights do not shine in your eyes.
  • Install stairlifts or elevators to help you get to another floor. Although expensive, installing a device to get upstairs to a bedroom is less expensive and certainly less traumatic than moving. They are a permanent addition to your house and may affect the resale value of your home. Before installing an expensive transport device, see if there is a way to create a bedroom and accessible bathroom on the ground floor that eliminates the need for you to go up or down stairs. The cost may be similar and will enhance your home’s livability as well as value.
  • Install extra support wherever you need it. Grab bars have come a long way from the old institutional looking steel bars of even a few years ago. Decorative ergonomic bars that fit the style of your home may be installed almost unobtrusively and sometimes serve dual purposes (towel bar or drapery tie back). Be sure to mount grab bars securely to the studs so that they can support a minimum of 250 pounds.
Home Accessibility (300 Tips for Making Life Easier)

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Home Accessibility (300 Tips for Making Life Easier)

Written by the best-selling author of Multiple Sclerosis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier and Parkinson's Disease: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.