Getting Your Chair through a Narrow Doorway

Have you ever found your doorway is to narrow and your chair does not fit through the door?

It is often the most over looked item when considering the purchase of a wheelchair, shower chair, floor lift, or other medical equipment, the width of the doorway.   What is the overall width of the wheelchair or commode chair as compared to all of the doorways it has to go through? 

The problem is we tend to measure the space between the door frames and not realize that the butt of the door sticks out into the open of the door and keeps the chair from clearing the doorway.  Then we find that the chair or the floor lift does not fit through the doorway.

When this happens you can always remove the door, but then you have no privacy or odor control, if you get my drift.  If you have room you could tear the old door out and install a wider door, but this can be costly and time consuming, not to mention messy. 

A possible fix is to replace the door hinges with Expandable Door Hinges or I have seen them called Offset Hinges.  This type of door hinge moves the door in line with the door frame generally adding up to an inch to the opening.

Expandable Door Hinge
Expandable Door Hinge

These hinges also help if the door is wide enough for your chair but the footrest keep scraping the bottom of the door.  We have these in our home to help reduce the number of times the door gets scraped up.  I look at it as how much time they buy me between paint jobs and doors are the worst for me to have to repaint.

In most cases these are easy to install by simply remove the current hinge and replace with the new one.   I have not been able to find these in local hardware stores or even the big warehouse chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot.   The first set I bought was at a specialty door store and cost more then twice what we sell them for.  The Expandable Door Hinge we sell is a pair of heavy duty hinges that can easily support the weight of a solid wood door. 

Our First Patient Lift

Our First Patient Lift


The first patient lift we bought was one of the chrome Hoyer hydraulic lift.  It was the one recommended by one of the nurses at the hospital.  That ended up being one of the first bad purchases we made, simply because we did not know better.  Our shinny new lift spent the better part of the first year with us in a spare room, because it took up to much space and ended up being in the way more often then it help.  I found it easy to just manually transfer Jeff then to drag out the lift.   As Jeff became independent, the lift was needed less and it was banished to the storage shed where it stayed till we gave it to a family that needed one.  The problem is that we still need a lift for that rare but inevitable time when a transfer goes south and Jeff ends up on the floor.  As I get older my back does not like it when I try to get Jeff from floor to bed or chair and unfortunately there is not always someone around to help. 


If we knew then what we know now, we would have purchased a portable patient lift instead of the one we did get.   With a portable lift we can easy store it in a closet out of the way of daily traffic, yet close enough to get out when needed. 

 Portable floor lifts are great for those who do not need a lift on a daily bases,  is tight on space but need the comfort of knowing a patient lift is available if the need arises.


Some of the older floor lifts come apart, that is the mast and base come apart, however, these are not considered portable floor lift.  Portable patient lifts are designed not to come apart in order to reduce the risk of losing parts while disassembled and to allow for quick setup time.  The mast generally fold down onto the base creating a compact unit that can be stood up in the back of a closet or in some cases stored under a bed.  They are simple to set up as they unfold and are ready to lend a hand.   You do not sacrifice size or performance with a portable lift as compared to its non portable counter parts. 

So if a lift is not part of your daily routine but you would like the piece of mind of know you can get your loved one off the floor with out having to call 911, then you should at least consider a portable floor lift.  


What’s available for your consideration:

  • Hoyer – has the Advance Patient Lift in either the manual (hydraulic) or powered (battery) versions.
  • BHM – the Junior, a misleading name, because the Junior has one of the tallest mast heights for any patient lift. This is a battery powered lift.
  • Molift – the Molift Smartis a battery powered portable patient lift.  The Molift Smart is the easyiest of these lifts to fold down, but it is also the most expensive of them.  The Molift is the only portable lift that offers a hard carrying case which is priceless if your plans will take you through an airport.  With the hard case option your portable lift has a fighting chance of making it to your destination in a workable condition.

You can go to Live Well Medical to get more information on these portable lifts or call us if you have questions.