Glued laminated timber, commonly known as glulam is an engineered timber wood product used for architecture structural purposes. It is manufactured by gluing together smaller pieces of graded and seasoned timber.
Glulam makes laminated timber structural solution that is typically finger-jointed into continuous lengths and is available in both softwood and hardwood. Before gluing, it is ensured that the laminates are of an exact and uniform thickness. They are joined together through constant pressure and are cut to the required size. Glulam is sometimes coated with a water repellent sealant to make it more durable and resistant to damage.
Glulam is made of several laminates. This exempts the strength-reducing characteristic of wood and makes it stronger and more resilient. If you compare glulam hardwood beams with solid timber, you’ll find the former tougher and more reliable than the solid wood.
Laminated timber was first introduced in Germany in 1900s. The wood suppliers in Australia adopted glued laminated timber in the 1950s and the market continues to grow even today. Glulam, in the country, is commonly used for structural and decorative purposes for its strength and extensive designing possibilities.
Having greater finish quality and ability to take up almost any shape, glulam is quickly becoming the most preferred wood product for construction usage.
Here are some of the structural benefits of glulam.
- Greater Sustainability and Availability
Timber can be easily grown and does not need to be mined or require any extensive extraction procedure. It is grown out of the ground and can be subjected to processing directly. Unlike other components like steel and cement, it doesn’t require mining or heavy-duty manufacturing. Moreover, timber is an environmentally sustainable material.
Factually, timber extracts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while growing. Once it is processed and turned into wood products, it doesn’t release the stored carbon dioxide. This makes it more environmentally friendly than other alternatives.
- More Shaping Flexibility
Glulam beams possess greater flexibility and can be processed into a range of sizes and shapes. Sizes of glulam beams can range from as small as 45mm and go up to 30m long.
Unlike solid timber logs, glulam can be converted into customised and complex curved shapes easily. The smaller pieces of wood glued together makes it easy for glulam to be moulded into any form and shape.
- Higher Strength to Weight Ratio
Timber enjoys excellent strength to weight ratio when compared with components like steel and concrete. Glulam hardwood beams have almost 1.5 to 2 time greater load-bearing strength than steel. This makes timber more durable and offers a greater ability to endure load.
Also, laminated timber structural solution comes with the benefit of feasible building ability. It can be easily manhandled into a roof space or used on a larger scale. Moreover, glulam beams need smaller foundations as they have reduced structure weight.
- Increased Durability of Glulam
One of the most important structural benefits of glulam is the increased durability. There are several factors like the type of timber, kind of glue used, a preservative added in the mixture, and the application process that plays a huge role in determining the durability of glulam beams. If all these factors are given correct specification, glulam can be used for the severest conditions.
For instance, in swimming pool structures where the environment is extensively humid and chlorine levels are high, glulam hardwood beams offer durable and low maintenance solution. The structures can last even for decades without incurring any substantial damage. Moreover, you wouldn’t have to spend more on its maintenance as it can last without creating any trouble.
- Heavy-duty Performance
Glulam undergoes processing to be converted into the laminated timber. This process eliminates the variation that may take place naturally in the solid and unprocessed timber. Resultantly, glulam achieves greater performance ability and can consistently perform at par.
- Offers Dimensional Stability
Laminated timber outruns solid timber in performance because of its greater strength and higher durability. Considering the fact that they are manufactured by gluing together small pieces of timber, it ensures that glulam has higher strength and greater dimensional stability. This makes glulam resistant to cracks and twist, increasing their stability for decades while retaining their original and aesthetic appeal.
Moreover, this makes glulam beams highly resilient towards earthquake and resistant to fire as compared to other structural construction material.
- Greater Aesthetic Appeal
Glulam is made of dried wood and has a structure with multiple layers. Not only it is resistant to cracking, but also makes an ideal option for visible roof structures. It adds more character to the building and contributes to colour, warmth, and grain, making the house more visually appealing.
Glued timber is suitable for internal as well as external building applications. Having a hard-wearing surface, certain glulam kinds like Durabeam GL10 can be used for construction purposes. They have great strength and are available in a range of designs to add the aesthetic appeal of your house.
Several species of timber come with their character and can be customised according to your requirements and preferences. As compared to steel and concrete, timber adds a warmer and cosier feel to your building, making it feel more comfortable.
- Fire Resistance
Timber products perform well in fire situations. They do not deform like steel. Instead, they burn at a known and slower rate. It has been researched that glulam hardwood beams char slowly and can last for a long period in a fire. Moreover, you can have additional fire protective finishes to increase its fire performance.
Timber is a good choice of construction material for your home as well as for the environment. You can benefit from its unique properties to make your home a comfortable, warmer and beautiful place to live in while also benefiting the environment.
Glulam is strong, durable and looks great. If you are weighing your options between timbers, concrete, and steel, timber is the best choice to go with as it makes a more cost-effective decision.
Simon is an entrepreneur and self-proclaimed jack of all trades. Simon has experience in the building and home renovation industry and he knows what it takes to knock out a successful project whether it be commercial or residential. Currently, Simon works with Vicash – a prominent supplier of high quality timber cladding solution for your residential/commercial project. Another niche for Simon is travel and outdoors leisure, including sporting equipment and bikes. A big kid at heart if it goes fast, bounces, slides or you can climb it Simon has put it to the test.