What is Glulam?
Glulam is a structural element that is used in both vertical columns and in roofing trusses and supports. It's a hugely versatile construction material and is comparable to light gauge steel frame and reinforced concrete structures.
The longevity of glulam is well documented and its use can be traced back over hundreds of years. Glulam beams from the 19th century are still in use today in buildings like the marriage room at Southampton Registry Office. Glulam is renowned for its strength with its natural colouring capable of giving a light and subtle accent to structures.
How is Glulam made?
The first step in the glulam process is manufacturing the lamellas (small sheets of timber). Lamellas go through a strict quality control system before they're processed, ensuring that any defects such as knots are eliminated. They're then graded by strength, further adding to the robust nature of the glulam beam.
Glulam is formed by stacking lamellas on top of one another, parallel to the grain. These lamellas are compressed, ensuring that they fit the exact specification for the job, and then laminated using a non-toxic proprietary glue solution. The beams can then be cut and moulded into shape using a number of manufacturing processes including a precision CNC lathe. BIM modelling allows beams to be engineered to fit the project from the moment they arrive on site. Once unloaded, members can be lifted and installed with relative ease.
Why use Glulam?
Like many timber products, glulam has a number of benefits over and above traditional building materials. Firstly, offsite manufacturing dramatically reduces build schedules and site working. Precision engineering in a controlled factory environment means that structural elements can be added to projects with minimal on-site contact. Glulam structures can be erected using a small but specialist crew, decreasing labour costs and positively impacting the effect of construction on the local environment.
Glulam is also considerably lighter than alternatives like reinforced concrete. This allows for further savings on foundations and makes it an ideal material for constructing additional storeys on existing buildings.
As with all our products, the glulam manufactured by our supply chain is either PEFC or FSC certified and comes with a full Chain of Custody. Clients looking for a more sustainable alternative to the carbon-heavy materials like concrete should strongly consider using glulam. Using timber products not only removes carbon from the atmosphere, locking it into a building, it also reduces the amount of waste produced. Since a considerable proportion of landfill waste comes from construction, this is a key argument for glulam's use. BIM modelling creates minimal wastage during manufacture, preemptively adding structural holes and M&E cuttings. Wastage from this process is typically converted into pellets and used as biofuel.