Glulam Basics

Glued laminated timber, or glulam, is a highly innovative construction material. Pound for pound, glulam is stronger than steel and has greater strength and stiffness than comparably sized dimensional lumber. Increased design values, improved product performance, and cost competitiveness make glulam the superior choice for projects from simple beams and headers in residential construction to soaring arches for domed roofs spanning more than 500 feet.

Glulam is a stress-rated engineered wood beam composed of wood laminations, or “lams”, that are bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant adhesives. The grain of the laminations runs parallel with the length of the member. Glulam is versatile, ranging from simple, straight beams to complex, curved members. Glulam is available in both custom and stock sizes and one of four appearance classifications: premium, architectural, industrial, or framing.

Common Glulam Applications

Glulam has a reputation for being used in striking, exposed applications such as vaulted ceilings and other designs with soaring open spaces. In homes, churches, public buildings, and other light commercial structures, glulam is often specified for its beauty as well as its strength. It’s also a workhorse in common hidden applications, including simple purlins, ridge beams, garage door headers, floor beams, and large cantilevered beams. In commercial construction, glulam is used in applications ranging from large, flat roof systems to complex arches. Glulam also meets demanding environments of bridges, utility poles, cross arms, and marinas. Learn more about glulam in commercial and residential construction.

Glulam Sizing

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.