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What is Glulam and why do we use it?

In a few of our posts you may have heard us mention Glulam, and wondered what it actually means. Well, we thought we’d explain what it is and why exactly we use it.

What does it mean?

Glulam is short for Glued Laminated Timber, and it is created by bonding together layers of dimensional timber with durable and moisture-resistant adhesives. The structure of this timber product means that the laminations all have their grain in a parallel direction, the result being that you can create either straight or curved members that are both larger and longer than if you achieved them by sawing a normal log.

How is it used?

There are strength in numbers – by laminating smaller pieces of timber, a single large, strong, structural member is manufactured. These can then be used as vertical columns or horizontal beams. A great factor is that the members can also be shaped into curves and arches.

What are the benefits?

Because of the way each piece is constructed, large glulam beams can be manufactured from smaller trees that have been harvested from second and third-growth forests. The overall amount of wood that is needed to be used is reduced, since the negative effects of knots and other imperfections are lessened. Glulam also optimises the structural benefits of wood, and the high strength value, combined with the stiffness of timbers, means glulam beams and arches can span large distances without intervening columns. This allows for far more flexibility when working on bespoke projects, and the fact it can be manufactured to straight and curved configurations allows for much more architectural freedom.

A recent project we worked on that included Glulam was the creation of an oval barn that surrounded a curved courtyard, and the pliancy it affords means that bespoke projects can be more easily realised. On top of that it’s kinder to the environment – according to a 2002 case study that compared energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and the costs for roof beams, steel beams take two to three times more energy and six to twelve times more fossil fuels to manufacture than glulam beams.

Want to incorporate Glulam beams into your bespoke oak project? Contact English Oak Buildings today!


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