DIY Network

How to Remove Overhead Joists and Build Staircase Landings

Host Karl Champley and homeowner Don Lighter work to remove overhead joists safely before building new staircase landings.

More in Remodeling

remove overhead joists
  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Remove the Joists

Use a reciprocating saw to cut through middle of joist (Image 1).

Drive a pry bar between the rafter and the joist to loosen the seam (Image 2).

Cut through the nails with the saw and remove half of joist.

Cut at the junction of any cross pieces and hammer them loose.

Remove the other end of the joist by cutting flush with the wall.

Step 2: Create and Place the First Landing

Using a compound miter saw, cut the pieces for the landing out of pine 2 x 12s for the frame; spruce 2 x 6s and 2x4’s for the legs and feet (also called skids.)

Assemble boxes out of 2 x 12 pieces, using a framing square to make sure the corners are perfect 90-degree angles.

Use #16 framing nails to attach pieces.

Nail 2 x 4 legs onto the frame (Image 1).

Measure to the center of the frame and add a center brace out of 2 x 12 across the middle (Image 2).

Add 2 x 6 feet (or skids) to bottom of frame (Image 3).

Once the landing is in place, use 3" deck screws to attach the skids to floor.

Step 3: Build and Attach the Second Landing

Build the second landing as a simple 2 x 12 box.

Attach 2 x 4 ledger strips to the side of the first landing and wall studs.

Set the second landing onto the ledger strips and screw them into place.

build and attach second landing

Step 4: Build and Support Third Landing

Build the third landing as a 2 x 12 box.

Use a ledger on a wall and two 2 x 4 legs with skids to support the third landing.

build and support third landing