The first and most obvious benefit of glulam is that its main component, timber, grows out of the ground and does not need to be mined and subjected to the high energy demand manufacturing processes that steel and cement require.
The lamination process is inherently flexible and we can produce glulam in sizes ranging from 45mm x 45mm up to 250mm x 1800mm x 30m long. Our glulam is made using European mechanical presses which can be arranged to make custom and often complex curved shapes.
Glulam is often chosen over steel or concrete for its appearance, and is often credited with creating a warm and comfortable feel to a building. There are many different species and treatments available all with their own character that can be tailored to suit requirements.
Timber has a good strength to weight ratio in comparison with steel and concrete. If you consider equivalent beam sizes for the same load bearing capacity in glulam and steel, glulam has approximately 1.5 – 2 times the strength to weight ratio of steel. This means there is a benefit in the buildability of glulam structures – this could be that it becomes possible to manhandle a beam into a roof space, or on a larger scale, craning of large prefabricated roof elements becomes feasible. Another advantage is that smaller foundations are needed for a reduced structure weight.
The durability of glulam will depend on its specification. Species of timber, type of glue and preservative type and application are all factors in the durability of glulam. Given the correct specification glulam can be used for the most onerous of conditions. One instance where glulam is chosen for its durability is in swimming pool structures – this is a particularly corrosive environment with high humidity and chlorine levels and glulam provides a durable low maintenance solution. Glulam is designed to last for decades with a minimum of maintenance.
The process of glue laminating timber eliminates the natural performance variations that characterise solid sawn timber. As Glulam beams are engineered wood products that are manufactured to meet specific performance criteria, the specifier and user can be assured that Glulam products will consistently perform as expected.
Large section timber elements actually perform very well in fires. This is due to the way in which timber chars at a known rate and does not deform like steel. Fire performance of glulam has been the subject of extensive research and structural glulam members can be designed to last a certain period of time in a fire based on the rate at which it chars. Additional fire protective finishes can be used to further increase the fire performance.
Laminated timber is far superior to solid timber due to its high strength and dimensional stability. Where solid timber posts & beams will crack and twist, a glulam member in the same size (and often smaller) will remain stable for many years as well as retaining its aesthetic appeal.
Glulam beams are very efficient to produce. The energy required to produce a glue-laminated beam from the log is only a fraction of the energy required to produce steel or concrete. Glulam has superior earthquake resilience and greater resistance to fire than any other structural construction material.