I only have one area in old house on the 3rd floor where I can put a pull down attic ladder. That is a narrow hallway but the ladder would need to be installed perpendicular to joists. It is an old house 1899. I have some photos of attic if that will help to answer my question. There is insulation but you can see the joists under there running perpendicular to way I need ladder. I would have to cut 3 joists. Can I safely do this?enter image description here

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  • I know the question I have to ask is off topic, but is the insulation blown cellulose or vermiculite? Or perhaps cellulose over vermiculite?
    – Jack
    Jan 16, 2020 at 14:59
  • cellulose - no vermiculite.
    – Rae
    Jan 17, 2020 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


Yes you can you will need to frame in the opening to the existing framework, I would suggest new work in this case to be larger or thicker as today’s wood is total crap compared to your construction. What I mean if you have 2x6 in that old wood I would go with 2x8 or 4x6 ,, sounds funny but count the rings on your boards and today’s boards will be 1/3 to 1/4 so a larger board is a good idea. but it can be done, I have added pull downs on a couple of Victorians but most had stairways although very narrow. If it is a registered home get approval first!!!! You can loose your tax status in some locations if the structure is modified.

  • How do you know that the joists are not preventing the walls from spreading? Could they be structural as well as holding up the ceiling?
    – Mattman944
    Jan 16, 2020 at 8:26
  • If properly boxed in the new framework will prevent problems.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 16, 2020 at 14:51
  • Yes, the wood in this old house is very hard & strong. Hard to even drill through it. Its not on historical register (on purpose) for that very reason! Thank you for your help.
    – Rae
    Jan 17, 2020 at 19:18
  • FYI , I have had found hard wood studs in several Victorians. I ended up having to drill and use screws as nails were useless because that old oak was like rock.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 17, 2020 at 20:10
  • 1
    Thanks so much @Ed Beal. I have an electrician handling that. We think its dead but we're going to make sure and remove it if can. Found good used hard copy of that book on Amazon and its on the way to me! :)
    – Rae
    Jan 20, 2020 at 20:13

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