1. Industry
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Glulam Classification and Uses

Glulam: Uses and Classification




Glulam, or glue laminated lumber is a versatile and innovative construction material used on commercial and residential projects. Glulam is made of single wood layers bonded together with superior wood adhesives. Glulam material is available on variable depths and lengths depending on the needs of your construction project. The material is used on long span designs and it is also preferred in curved designs.

Glulam offers great strength and stiffness when compared with dimensional lumber and it is stronger than steel, compared on a pound by pound basis. Connections are usually made with bolts or plain steel dowels and steel plates.

Glulam Common Uses

Glulam members can be used as:
  • Straight Beams - Glulam lintels, purling, ridge beams and floor beams
  • Columns- Round, square and complex sections.
  • Tied Rafters
  • Glulam Trusses
  • Tied Arches
  • Curved Portals
  • Domes and Arches
  • Arched Bridges
  • Curved Beams

Glulam Strength Classification System

Glulam members’ grades are classified using strength properties. Softwood glulam bending combinations have been arranged under a Stress Class System. The first part of the Stress Classification System is the reference bending design value or its flexural loading. For example a 24F signifies that the glulam member has 2,400 psi of flexural loading. The second part of this grade classification is the corresponding modulus of elasticity value of the glulam member. For example a 24F-1.8E indicates a reference bending design value of 2400 psi and modulus of elasticity of 1.8 x 10^6 psi. Bending combinations glulam members should be used typically as beam and axial combinations should be loaded axially.

Glulam Standard Appearance Grades

Glulam material provides four type of appearance grades as listed in ANSI A190.1 (2002):


    Framing appearance grade is the common choice for home building, and other areas where glulam is specified combined with dimension lumber. This grade is recommended only in concealed areas.

  2. Industrial

    Industrial grade appearance for glulam material is recommended on areas where the aesthetics is not a major concern. Under this appearance grade, the glulam is finished slightly better than the framing grade, but it is not an aesthetic product. It should be used in areas not visible to general public. This appearance grade will show some wood imperfection on its surface, such as knots and voids.

  3. Architectural

    When glulam is going to be used as a facade material or exposed element, Architectural grade appearance is highly recommended. The Architectural appearance grade offers a high quality finish product, where wooden voids and imperfections are filled or treated to provide a better surface and architectural product.

  4. Premium

    This grade glulam appearance is only available by special orders and usually used on special occasions, or pre-determined areas, where high concentration of people is expected. Premium grade glulam offers smoother surfaces that will result on a high quality finish product.

Glulam Benefits

Glulam material can provide you with:

  • An all-around product that can be used as roof and floor beams, columns, bracing, decking and other structural components.
  • Green material with very low formaldehyde levels.
  • Light weight material, one-sixth lighter than same dimension reinforced concrete beam.
  • Glulam beams and arches can generate large unsupported span areas.
  • Lower transportation and handling costs.
  • Material that is easy to repair and install.
  • Customizable material to fit your special needs.
  • Standard sized available immediately.
  • Produced on well managed forests and certified to PEFC.
  • Durable material.
  • Great insulation properties.
  • Aesthetic material producing eye-appealing finishes.
  • Glulam can be manufactured in large section sizes and longer lengths.
  • Offers great fire resistant properties and will outlast steel beams under the same fire threatening conditions.
  • Glulam members offer precise dimensions, as they are manufactured from seasoned timber.
  • CAUTION: Swelling and shrinkage may lead to splitting or delamination of the beam.

Glulam: Handling and Storage Tips

Glulam members should be handled carefully to avoid any damage or reduction in their structural capacity. It is recommended that:

  • Fabric sling should be used when lifting.
  • Avoid using chains to could damage the surface of the glulam.
  • Glulam should be storage vertically.
  • Protect glulam from weather by covering with plastic sheeting.
  • Protect glulam until the moment of installation, unless glulam is intended for exposed areas.
  • Follow manufacturers' recommendations.
  1. About.com
  2. Industry
  3. Construction
  4. Materials
  5. Wood and Plastics
  6. Glulam: Glulam Classification and Uses

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.