I am hoping to extend the opening for my loft hatch using the following method.

I want to move the cross piece from position Q to position P. I intend to screw a temporary support across the top of the joists at position P. Then remove the cross piece at position Q, cut joist B where it intersects with line P and reattached the removed cross piece by screwing it to joist A and C. I will then remove the temporary support.

I have two questions:

  1. Does this method sound sensible?
  2. The cross piece is currently nailed between joists A and C. How can I go about removing it? The nails are driven in below the surface so I can't see how to get any tool on to them. Is there some other method? Ideally I would like to reuse the cross piece, but I can replace it if necessary.

loft hatch diagram

3 Answers 3


Your plan sounds fine.

If it were me, I would likely do the temporary support from beneath (a temporary stud extending from the floor below, intersecting the ceiling at the intersection of B and P). Either way, I think you will be fine.

A reciprocating saw is the right tool for this job. It will allow you to cut the nails holding the existing cross member in place.

I'm not sure of your particular situation, but since you are already reframing the opening, you should consider adding a drop-down ladder. As long as you have the space, this will make the attic much more usable in general.

  • 1
    I borrowed a reciprocating saw off a friend, it worked great. I also used it to cut away the excess ceiling board. Have also taken your advice about fitting a ladder. Nov 23, 2010 at 13:40

This makes perfect sense. You would use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails holding the header at position Q in place. Handy tool to have but if it's not in the budget or you don't foresee needing it for anything else, it can be rented. You might be able to re-use the header after you've cut it out, but I'd have a suitable piece of lumber ready to make a new one just in case. Cutting it out will leave it a hair shorter than it was, and it may end up too narrow to fit snugly between the joists in its new location.

  • you were right, I had to cut a new piece. Nov 23, 2010 at 12:49

What you propose makes sense. If the joists aren't doing anything other than holding up the ceiling, a temporary support across A, B & C should do nicely.

As for removing the cross piece, I would just cut it in half with a recip or circular saw. You could try to cut the nails out so you could re-use the piece, but I think you'll have a tough time with that. I would just cut it in half and use a new piece.

Also, when attaching the new cross members, it would be best to use joist hangers where it connects to the A and C joists as well as where the B joist connects to the cross member. Probably not strictly necessary considering the load, but as long as you are doing it, might as well do it right.

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