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Secrets to Not Breaking Lag Screws by Joseph Kraehenbuehl

Secrets to Not Breaking Lag Screws by
Article Posted: 01/14/2014
Article Views: 771
Articles Written: 7
Word Count: 738
Article Votes: 0
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Secrets to Not Breaking Lag Screws

Home Improvement,Home Repair,Organizing
Installing three inch lag screws for installing ceiling mounted garage storage racks is often a point of frustration for many people. They sometimes end up having them breaking. Here I will provide methods for how to prevent this challenge.

The advice listed here can be applicable to any installation of longer lag screws, however my expertise comes from attaching ceiling brackets for overhead garage storage racks. These types of shelves require 2" penetration into the ceiling beams. These shelves include 3" lag screws since they must clear the drywall and size of a piece of steel.


The most important thing to do to prevent breaking lag screws is to always pre-drill the holes. Utilize a 3/16” bit and drill down to the full length of a lag screw. When you drill too shallow you'll get heavy resistance while driving the screw. I have been told some individuals have luck drilling another hole inside that using a 15/16” bit, but only drill as far as the smooth part of the lag screw. Understand that wood is an inconsistent material, therefore there is a probability that you'll encounter a knot in the wood. These spots usually do not accept a screw very well and they could lead you to reposition your screw.

Best Tool

My next recommendation is to work with an impact driver to install the hardware. The job is difficult using a socket wrench. A good rechargeable drill with the bit for sockets will complete the work. Though by far the easiest option would be to use an impact driver. I've found that I have to employ two hands and stand immediately behind the drill so that I can run them in effectively when using a rechargeable drill. But when I take advantage of an impact driver, I can install the screws with only one hand and I do not have to position my body with the screw. This is particularly convenient whenever I'm on a step ladder and may need to stretch to the anchor.

Over Tightening

One more prevalent problem is that people crank down on the lag screws. Do not over tighten the screws. Should you put excessive force on the head when the head of the screw is flat against the surface, you risk breaking off the head while getting the threads embedded in the wood. This may cause difficulties with attaching your ceiling mounting bracket since you might be installing perpendicular to the ceiling beams, which means you won’t have the option to just slide it down a bit to create a new hole. Drive the fasteners just till the head contacts the ceiling bracket. They do not need to be tightened down any more.

Putting soap or wax over the threads may make it easier to drive the screw. I recommend using candle wax if you can, as over periods of time the soap may cause the threads to rust.

Grade and Material

If you are dealing with low grade screws, consider making a visit to the home improvement store for better quality hardware. The grade and material of lag screws are designated on the head. No marks signifies a low grade 2 and has the lowest tensile strength. Three radial lines means grade 5, a medium carbon steel that's quenched and tempered. These should install successfully and not have frequent breaks. The last and strongest ranking of steel lag screws have six radial markings and are grade 8.

Stainless lag screws don't have these conventional markings on them, though they have roughly the same tensile strength of grade 5, but they also may possibly bend easier - more regarding bending later. Stainless will probably have some kind of notation printed on the top of the head, so you won’t mix them up with grade 2. Stainless is also non-magnetic.


I do not advocate reusing lag screws. After being driven, even only partially, the lag screw is stressed. It is more likely it will snap when you try to use it again. This also indicates you shouldn't drive a lag screw by cranking in and out of the stud to work it down into place. Lastly, a small amount of bend in the threads will keep the screw from turning and boring down into the stud properly.

Learn more about how to organize your garage with overhead garage storage racks and other great storage products at

Related Articles - lag screws, breaking, broken, overhead, ceiling, hanging, storage, rack, shelf, shelving,

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