Your guide to home elevators, presented by Craig Jones of Country Home Elevator

The Home Elevator Cab

The central feature of a home elevator – and the part that people see the most – is the cab, or car, where the passengers and cargo ride. The choice and quality of materials used here will determine whether your elevator is a beautiful and functional addition to your home, or just a box that goes up and down all day.

Size of a home elevator cab

36″ by 48″ is the bare minimum cab size for a home elevator,but most people would only choose it in the case of a hoistway size restriction, or if they felt that the modest associated savings made up for the relatively small space. 40″ x 54″ is a much more popular choice. In addition to providing extra room, the 40″ width matches up perfectly with a standard 36″ door on the hoistway shaft.

Interior elevator finish

The type of wood and decorative trim used on the inside of a home elevator cab largely determines the “feel” of the entire installation. Ultra-cheap elevators are typically priced with a type of laminate so obviously low quality that few people would choose it under any circumstances. The inside of an elevator should not look like a piece of half-assembled Saunders office furniture, but that’s exactly what you’ll get with a low cost photo-lam finish.


The next step up from laminate is a basic flat wood interior with minimal trim. Birch, oak, and maple are popular low-cost woods for this application. Even unfinished, any of these will look and feel much better than low-cost laminate.

At the high end of the spectrum are furniture-grade woods like cherry and alder. Finished properly and trimmed out with raised panels, an interior made from one of these will look stupendous.

Naturally, better grades of wood and fancier types of trim can substantially increase the cost of a home elevator installation, but even if you can’t swing dark cherry and library panels, you really should try to at least get some kind of real wood. Laminate is simply not conducive to long-term enjoyment of your home elevator.


Elevator control devices

Basically, the user-accessible controls of any elevator are in two parts: Those inside the cab, for floor selection and door operation; and those outside the hoistway, for calling the elevator. Additionally, the emergency phone inside the elevator is contained in a box which usually matches the control panel trim.

The choice of finish on your control devices is almost as important as the choice of wood and trim for your home elevator cab. From an aesthetic perspective, these devices are much like the chrome on your car, and can make or break your elevator’s appearance. The least expensive finish is brushed stainless, which looks fine. For a truly stunning effect, however, you’re better off with vintage bronze, brass, or brushed nickel. Once again, every upgrade in this area impacts the final cost of the elevator.