Is Glulam Hardwood or Softwood? You may think that all wooden tools and structures are made of solid wood, but this mentality is wrong. We have products in the wood industry that are made by combining several types of wood and gluing and pressing them. For example, glulam can be mentioned. In fact, glulam is one of the most widely used wood products in the wood industry for the construction of various types of wooden structures, which has many applications. In this article, we will talk about the benefits of using glulam and its applications.
What Is Glulam?
What Is Glulam?
First, let’s talk about how to make glulam. Glulam is a type of wood material that is obtained by gluing pieces of wood together and pressing them. Depending on the size of the wood, the size of the glulam will vary from medium to very large. Glulam is also known as glued laminated timber. Surely this question has arisen for you that softwood is used in making glulam or should we go for hardwood?
In answer to this question, we must say that the range of efficiency of glulam is very diverse, so glulam is made with both softwood and hardwood. At the time of purchase, you must explain your purpose of buying glulam to carpenters to offer you the best glulam in terms of softwood or hardwood, depending on the type of performance.
An issue that needs to be addressed in this regard is the thickness of the laminates used in Glulam. If you put different types of glulam next to each other, you will notice a difference in their thickness. Certainly, the type of wood used to make glulam is the most important factor that affects its final thickness.
How Is Glulam Made?
To make glulam, it is first necessary to cut the wood sheets in different dimensions. Depending on the type of glulam application, the size of these dimensions will definitely vary. Then we have to wait for the moisture of these wooden pieces to completely disappear. If there is the least moisture inside these woods, the glulam will become moldy over time. Therefore, the issue of drying wooden parts is very important.
In the next step, the woods are glued together. It is necessary to put a lot of pressure on the laminates until this adhesive is completely dry so that no seams and gaps are created between the wood layers. Finally, after complete drying, the laminate parts are cut according to the desired dimensions and glulam enters the market.
Of course, the strength and durability of glulam are much higher than solid wood because several layers of chopped wood with strong adhesives are placed next to each other to produce a thick product. This way of processing increases their strength and stability. Whilst, such resistance cannot be found in the primary timber used to make glulam (Glue Laminated Timber).
The Most Important Benefits of Using Glulam
There are many products like glulam that we can use. Multilayer boards, for example, are the most common product, similar to glulam, which is made up of several layers of wood stacked on top of each other. But why do we prefer to use glulam:
- Stability and resistance of glulam are much higher. In this wood product, the layers are put on top of each other with glue, so its strength is many times more than ordinary wood, and even we can compare it with steel.
- Unlike ordinary woods, in which we are concerned about changing their dimensions due to temperature changes, we will not see such a problem in glulam. In glulam, wood laminates are glued together so it is very resistant to temperature and humidity changes. For this reason, we can use glulam for building columns because it has high durability and strength, and on the other hand, due to temperature changes, it does not change dimensions and the structure of the building will remain very strong.
- Since glulam can be easily shaped, angular and curved shapes can be applied inside the glulam, so the efficiency of glulam is more than other wood products that have been processed.
- In connecting wooden laminates to form glulam, toothed joints are used, therefore there is no limit in terms of glulam length. We can increase the length of this processed wood product as much as we want and use it for different purposes such as building columns.
- The high resistance of glulam to corrosive substances, especially acids is another factor that has increased the efficiency of glulam.
- One of the most important advantages of glulam is the fire resistance of this processed product. We all know that wood burns easily due to rising temperatures, which is why we are even a little worried about designing the house and using the wood in storage. There is no such problem with glulam. It is even interesting to know that unlike iron beams, which soften and deform rapidly as the temperature rises, this does not happen inside the glulam. Therefore, glulam is even more resistant to fire than iron.
- Since glulam is made of wood, if we can use this material to make wooden tools and wooden structures, we have definitely helped the health of the environment.
The Most Important Applications of Glulam
As mentioned, glulam is very resistant to changes in temperature, humidity, corrosion and even fire, so the range of the function of this wood product increases. Glue Laminated Timber will be used in the following cases:
- Due to the very high resistance of glulam and the lack of length restrictions, it can be used for the construction of the building as a beam and also for the construction of road bridges.
- Also in the construction of the roof of the building, especially in wooden villas, glulam is widely used.
- In addition, glulam can be used for flooring the building. As mentioned, there is no limit in terms of length and its durability is very high. Therefore, it can withstand the pressure of the walls and the overall weight of the building. For this reason, it will be a good option for flooring.
- Other applications of glulam include making doors and windows, making wooden furniture in the interior design of the building, making wooden structures in swimming pools due to the resistance of this wooden product to moisture and chlorine, and making boats.
Glulam is available in both custom and stock sizes. Stock beams are manufactured in commonly used dimensions and cut to length when the beam is ordered from a distributor or dealer. Typical stock beam widths used in residential construction include: 3-1/8, 3-1/2, 5-1/8, 5-1/2, and 6-3/4 inches.
For non-residential applications, where long spans, unusually heavy loads, or other circumstances control design, custom members are typically specified. Common custom shapes include straight beams, curved beams, pitched and curved beams, radial arches, and tudor arches.
Is glulam cheaper than wood?
Glulam is cheaper than solid wood because individual beams can be cut from several younger trees instead of one large tree. This means that the glulam can be as large and long as the structure needs. It can also be produced in curved shapes which are expensive to make with solid wood.
How long does glulam last?
You can use glulam for more than 100 years. But there are some points you should follow. Keep beams and posts covered to protect them from direct sun and rain, especially in hot, dry weather. Make sure there is no direct contact with the ground or contact with wet or damp surfaces such as fresh concrete or wet surfaces.