In my 1911 home, there is a stairwell that has a 180 degree turn with a landing, and there is a light fixture directly overhead (centered over the railing) that I would like to replace with a pendant light. When I'm standing directly below it (halfway up the second flight of steps) the ceiling is about 3 feet out of my reach. I imagine there is some standard approach to doing this type of work (someone installed that light in the 1950's).

How can I get a stable ladder or platform in place to safely work on that fixture?

The second story ceiling is 8 feet 6 inches above the floor, as shown in this photo:

View of fixture from second floor

On the other side of the railing, the distance from the fixture to the closest step on the first flight is about 15 feet:

View of fixture from first floor (cat for scale)

This is what I intend to replace the fixture with:

Hunter Lighting Reed Rattan Black 1-Light Outdoor Pendant Light

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    There are ladders that work great in stairwells adjustable A-frame type. Gorilla and little giant are two popular brands. – Kris Feb 6 at 22:44
  • the builders probably used a scaffold – Jasen Feb 7 at 3:21
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    can you get above the ceiling? – jsotola Feb 7 at 5:02
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    @Jasen The house was originally gas-lit, so the fixture would have been installed at a later date. – vallismortis Feb 7 at 18:56
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    Cat: "I don't care what they suggest! I'm out of here until this is over!" – DJohnM Feb 9 at 7:24

You can try this type of ladder. It allows for a configuration like this on a staircase:


Here is another option that might work as well.

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    These ladders are good for some staircases, but the one in the picture looks like the ceiling is just too high. OP can take some measurements to be sure. – JPhi1618 Feb 7 at 15:13
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    If you’re only 3 vertical feet off while on the stairs, the right staircase ladder should easily give you that 3 or 4 foot rise you need. – v15 Feb 8 at 17:50
  • @v15 I think you're right, I'm considering buying one of these now. – vallismortis Feb 10 at 22:56
  • @vallismortis I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well it works for a set up like that since you can control how steep of a pitch (angle against the stairs) you’re comfortable working with. – v15 Feb 11 at 3:45

Same problem - I am looking at using 2 little giant ladders and a metal work plank to get up there. It doesn’t look like fun. I did watch a video were a platform was built in the stairwell and then a ladder placed on that. Didn’t see fun either...

enter image description here


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  • I hate those ladders (I'd use an extension ladder, with boots on it). But: metal plank, +1 – Mazura Feb 9 at 21:37

Most hardware stores sell bulb changing extension poles: example

I can't tell from the picture if there is a decorative shroud over the bulb; if there is I would change the light fixture.

I had my GC put 20 year LED puck lights in hard to reach areas in my home (indoor and outdoor). You might consider this too if it fits the rest of the decor.

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  • Interesting device. I'm planning on replacing the entire fixture, not just the bulb. I'll update my question to clarify this. – vallismortis Feb 13 at 16:44

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