picture worth 1000 words

enter image description here

this 4x4 was there for years, I'm a new owner since about 2 years, i didn't really notice or took picture of this 4x4 before.

should I be worried about this?

it support the entry door platform/stair going down and up and about 40-50 square foot of the kitchen floor, there is a dishwasher right above it

the steel beam that support the floor is on the other side of the platform (which is about 3 feet wide) (face of this 4x4)


video of the 4 sides, see description

2 Answers 2


Nothing too worrisome there - the check (seasoning crack) is not in a direction that affects the ability to carry a load. Looks like green material was used and it dried. It's a common occurrence for posts which include the pith (center) of the tree.

  • i have added a video showing all side of the 4x4
    – Fredou
    Jun 7, 2017 at 21:58

I disagree with ecnerwal's answer. That split is called "a check". Yes, when lumber dries it will twist and often check. However, failure occurs when the check runs diagonally, which is happening to your post (column).

If, as you say, it supports 40-50 square feet of the kitchen floor, then that represents a minimum load of: 40-50 x 40 lbs. per square foot (minimum load per code) = 1600-2000 lbs. That's significant...especially if it also supports a refrigerator.

You're safe for now because the check has not extended completely through the post. When it dies, it will fail because it does not run perfectly vertical. I'd use 10d nails at 8-10" oc staggered across the grain (stay about 1 1/4" away from edges) and nailed from both sides or use screws #8 at 8-10" oc to fasten the two pieces together. (Do not align nails or screws with the grain or you could split the post.) Also, don't "over nail" (nails too close together or driven too deep) for fear of splitting the wood.

Pay attention as you nail or screw to see if it starts to split more...either direction. Btw, you're not going to pull the two pieces together. The purpose of nailing is to transfer the load to both pieces of the post.

  • So would nails or screws be better than bolts which would go all the way through? (Large washers on both the bolt and the nuts.) Jun 7, 2017 at 2:06
  • @JimStewart Yes, good call. But don't over pre-drill and space them at least 12 bolt diameters apart and staggered (not in the same line of grain).
    – Lee Sam
    Jun 7, 2017 at 2:44
  • Sistering a 2x4 to the side wouldn't hurt, either. Jun 7, 2017 at 15:22
  • It is not clear from the picture if the left side of the 4x4 is accessible. If it isn't or just as a matter of convenience, would it be OK to use those large self drilling screws to bind the 4x4 together? Or would the threads on such screws lock the gaps into place so that bolts or nails would be preferred? Jun 7, 2017 at 20:05
  • @JimStewartall 4 sides are accessible, there is a room behind that wall
    – Fredou
    Jun 7, 2017 at 20:37

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