Safety Guide: Stairs & Hallways

Stairs, hallways, and corridors deserve extra attention when setting up a house: they’re common places for a fall.

It's best to have both evaluated by an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, or other trained professional with experience in aging in place. We've detailed a few ideas below to understand what's possible.


Install handrails

Stairs should have handrails on both sides for stability. Make sure both rails are stable by getting them installed by a professional and testing the height during installation.

Add motion-activated lighting

In addition to sufficient overhead lighting, consider adding motion-activated lights to each step.

Alternate step colors

It can be difficult to see where steps start and end when they’re all the same color. One solution is to paint them different shades so that each step has a contrasting color to the step above it.

Remove carpet runners

They’re a trip hazard, especially with thicker carpets. On wooden stairs, add non-slip carpet stair treads to prevent slipping.

Add support to small staircases

Even if you have a staircase with just one or two steps, like leading into the garage, consider adding a grab bar or handrail for stability. This SELEWARE Outdoor Stair Rail is a good pick.

Explore assistive equipment

The Norway-based company AssiStep has built a stair walker that provides firm support in front of you when waking up or down the stairs. It’s not yet available in the U.S., but you can contact them about special orders.

Look into a stair lift

If you’ve decided to get a stair lift, there are three types to consider: straight, curved, or outdoor. Stannah or Bruno’s stair lifts are two highly-regarded manufacturers.

Don’t rule out a residential elevator

The most expensive option would be to add a home elevator. These projects typically start at $25,000, and not all homes are configured for one. But if stairs are the reason you’re considering an expensive move, it might be worth looking into residential hydraulic elevators that travel 1-2 floors.

Hallways & Corridors

Install overhead lighting

Make sure that lighting doesn’t lead to a glare that makes it difficult to see where you’re stepping. Consider smart lights, like the Kasa Smart Lights, that are connected to Alexa and can be controlled by voice command.

Look for large door hooks

If you need door hooks, look for an easy-to-see option and have them securely installed. Pottery Barn’s Oversize Hammered Metal Wall Hook works well.

Add motion-sensing lighting

For another hands-off option, consider self-activating lighting. Depending on how large your space is, a ceiling light like Cloudy Bay’s Motion Sensor Light can work.

Add sturdy railings

If bookshelves or tables are making a hallway narrower, consider removing them and installing a railing instead. Any furniture should be securely affixed to the wall behind it to prevent toppling. Objects that could tip over and clutter should be removed.

Look for non-skid flooring

Vinyl, cork, and rubber are all good options, or you can apply a product like FloorDoctors Non-Slip Coating to wood floors. We recommend avoiding carpet.

Remove door sills and thresholds

Transitions between hallways and rooms are danger zones. Door sills and thresholds are easy to miss and a common trip hazard; if you have them, see if they can be removed.