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Laminated wood: what it is and how it can be used

Laminated wood: what it is and how it can be used

The laminated wood is a product consisting of multiple layers of solid wood "Linked" to each other through the use of a high-strength adhesive, such as to form a single structural unit. Builders often refer collectively to all types of laminated beams or other structural materials in laminated wood also with the term "glulam".

Having said that, let's try to understand what are the main characteristics of laminated wood panels, versatile and innovative building materials, widely used in commercial and residential projects.

Laminated wood constructions

From the above it should be clear how the laminated wood is a product of worked wood, that is, made of wood but worked and assembled according to precise specifications to create a stable building material in its dimensions. Other common wrought wood products include plywood, oriented stranded panels and laminated veneer.

That said, glulam has some specific characteristics, with its components being sold in different standard widths and lengths, but which can at the same time be custom made to meet almost any design specification.

They are commonly used for large curved or arched elements to build vaulted roofs, domes and even bridges. The construction in glulam can in fact offer users a higher strength and rigidity than dimensional timber, and for the same weight it can guarantee a strength comparable to other apparently more solid building materials.

Read also Types of wood: categories and characteristics

Common uses of glulam timbers

THE glulam components they can be used in a wide range of applications and for internal and external projects.

The most common uses include the realization of:

  • beams, architraves, purlins, ridge beams and floor beams,
  • columns, including round, square and complex sections,
  • pylons,
  • arch bridge supports,
  • curved beams.

The resistance of laminated wood

Glulam components are classified according to specifications strength properties and receive an evaluation from a stress classification system.

Normally, the first part of the classification is the reference value of the bending design, or its bending load. The second part of the evaluation is instead the corresponding value of the modulus of elasticity of the glulam member.

The grades of glulam

The lamellar material is available in four different appearance classes:

  • Frame. The degree of appearance of the frame is the common choice for residential buildings and other areas where glulam is specified and will be combined with timber of dimensions. This class is only recommended for use in hidden areas.
  • Industrial. The industrial grade appearance for lamellar material is generally recommended for areas where aesthetics are not a primary concern of the client. The laminated wood will still be finished slightly better than the degree of frame, but it cannot be considered a product to "spend" from an aesthetic point of view. It should therefore be used in areas not visible to the general public, as some imperfections of the wood on its surfaces, such as knots and holes, could be probable and visible.
  • Architectural. When glulam is used as a facade material or as an exposed element, it is strongly recommended that an architectural grade be used. This grade offers a high quality finished product, where voids and imperfections in the wood are filled or treated to achieve a smoother, more attractive surface.
  • Premium. We therefore come to the type of glulam available only on order and usually reserved for special situations or predetermined areas, where a high concentration of people is expected. The superior quality glulam offers smoother surfaces for a finished product of the highest quality.

Why use glulam?

But why use glulam?

In order to answer this question, it can be remembered that laminated wood panels are not only robust, economical and highly customizable, but also efficient in terms of the resources used, considering that they are made with relatively small pieces of wood to create a large wood element that would otherwise require large wood to be generated.

Glulam panels offer many advantages to designers and builders:

  • versatile use as roof and floor beams, columns, braces, terraces and other structural components,
  • ecological material with very low formaldehyde levels,
  • reduction of transport and handling costs,
  • easy installation and surface repair,
  • customizable to meet special needs,
  • standard sizes immediately available,
  • good fire resistance; it can last longer than steel beams in the same fire conditions.


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