Glued laminated timber, more commonly known as glulam timber is an innovative structural solution in the field of construction. It’s a type of stress-rated engineered timber that’s used for building beams and columns in both residential and commercial applications.
Multiple layers of solid wood timber cut in the same grain and secured together with a high strength, moisture resistant adhesive forming a single structural unit of glued laminated timber.
The glue goes deep in the layers under high pressure making the bonds stronger. Glulam differs slightly from cross laminated timber with respect to the lamination of the timber layers or lamellas.
In cross laminated timber the layers of timber are bonded perpendicular to the direction of adjacent layers, giving it strength for two directions. This type of engineered timber is used for walls, floors and roofs. Together, glulam and cross laminated make a great team and complement each other in various applications
Hardwood glulam beams are ideal for long span designs with curves and shapes such as arches. They combine strength with wood’s natural aesthetic.
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Glulam Timber Applications
Glulam members come in depths ranging from 6 to 72 inches and widths that range from 2.5 to 10.75 inches. At the time of ordering, components are cut to length and can go beyond 100 feet. Straight beams, curved beams, radial arches and tudor arches are some of the commonly available shapes.
It is available in four appearance grades namely framing, architectural, industrial and premium. These allow its use in a range of architectural applications for both indoor and outdoor projects.
Glulam has a standing for being used in conspicuous, exposed structures such as vaulted ceilings and tied arches. It is therefore appreciated for its aesthetic attributes in homes, churches, and commercial buildings such as educational facilities, offices and restaurants.
It also works well in the background as purlins, lintels, ridge beams and floor beams. Glulam can even cope with the challenging environments of bridges, marina docks, utility poles and cross arms.
Advantages of Glulam Timber
When compared to steel and concrete, glulam has a superior strength to weight ratio. Its strength to weight ratio is about 1.5-2 times higher than that of steel. It is capable of creating unsupported spans exceeding 500 feet.
It makes it a cost effective choice for long spans and tall columns that need little additional support. Furthermore, smaller foundations are required for a lower structural weight.
Glulam is a low maintenance solution engineered to last for decades. Hardwood glulam beams have minimal shrinkage and do not crack or twist.
It is one of the most resistant construction materials that can withstand aggressive conditions. It is resistant to corrosion, rot and insect infestation. This makes it useful in tough environments such swimming pool structures and animal hides.
Timber can outlive steel under the same fire conditions. It chars at a known rate and unlike steel, it doesn’t deform.
Glulam can be structurally designed in a way to last longer in a fire. Its fire performance can be further increased with additional fire protective finishes.
Glulam timber provides a lot of space in the overall project design and construction. The increased size of windows and support beams give architects greater freedom to be creative.
Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Material
Glulam beams are easier to produce as timber grows out of the ground. The production of glulam uses just a fraction of energy that goes into producing other construction materials like steel and concrete. One steel beam would require as much as 10 times the energy consumed to produce an equivalent glulam beam.
The formaldehyde emissions from glulam are extremely low. It is also easily recycled and reused, making it a renewable material.
Glulam has a natural looking and striking appearance It can give a warm and comfortable feel to a building, making it a preferred choice over steel or concrete. There are various timber species and treatments now available which can be tailored to meet your requirements.
With a flexible lamination process, glulam has a wide window of available sizes. Moreover, it is easier to be configured to make custom and complex shapes. Glulam can be made into virtually any shape.
Whether they are building a house, the roof a public building or a wooden bridge, architects and designers have a wider scope to create shapes and structures with glulam.
With its higher seismic-acoustic resistance, glulam is more resistant to earthquakes than other construction materials.
Value for Money
When compared to concrete or steel, glulam offers greater value for money and is a more cost effective option. The overall construction cost can be significantly lower with glulam.
Easy to Work With
Glulam is easy to handle, work with and build. Simple machine and hand tools are sufficient when working with glulam.
Glulam timber beams are strong, highly customizable, resource efficient and cost effective. Due to their greater structural robustness and natural aesthetic appeal, the construction industry is increasingly gaining confidence in the material. Glulam is set to become a leader in structural applications with its sustainable nature.
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