This is probably an overly long explanation for a question for which I think I already know the answer to, (probably obvious) but other opinions would be great.

In tearing out some very old outdoor wooden steps that are starting to rot, a few of the center stringers for those steps split at the corners. Hence, the new treads (11 inches deep) at these locations will not be supported by that full 11 inches.

My plan is to sister a new board to the center stringer at those spots (the existing stringers, except for the several split corners, are still in pretty good shape). Both the stringers and sister boards are about 1.5 inches thick.

My question: I already have a good number of (expensive) 3.5 inch-long lag bolts that are plenty strong (1/4 or 3/8 inch). However, the end of the lag screw would stick out by a tiny bit (~ 1/4 inch max if I use a washer). I can't imagine this would be a problem (other than bothering me aesthetically, even though it will never be seen), especially since the end is tapered and not contributing to any holding strength, but just wanted to check.

1 Answer 1


Are you replacing all of the treads? If so, can you tear out the old, rotten stringer so you don't need to sister in a new one? That would be best if the part of the stringer supporting some treads is beginning to fail. It will also make it easier to use a modern connector between the top of the stringer and the joist supporting the landing.

If you can't tear out the old, I think framing nails are a better choice than lag bolts. They'll distribute shearing forces across more nails and therefore more wood.

Lag bolts are often used to hold a beam together but it's the ends of the bolt and the outside faces of the beam doing the work. In your case, you want the fasteners to transfer load from one compromised stringer to the new one; and you want to spread that out with several framing nails, instead of creating a point load inside of the stringers with fewer (but larger) bolts.

Be sure to use galvanized or stainless steel nails since it's an outdoor project. If you're unsure which, your local building supplier will know (and they probably won't even sell stainless nails if you don't live near saltwater.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.