Glulam beam sizes: Width & Depth

Glulam beam sizes: Width & Depth

Glulam, which stands for glued laminated timber, is a type of structural wood product commonly used in construction. It is made by gluing together multiple layers of lumber with their wood grains oriented in the same direction, creating a strong and durable beam. One important aspect of glulam beams is their size, specifically their width and depth. In this article, we will explore the various sizes of glulam beams, their advantages and applications, and how to choose the right size for your project. Whether you are a construction professional or a homeowner planning a renovation, understanding glulam beam sizes will help you make informed decisions for your building project.

What is glulam beam (glue laminated beam)

What is glulam beam (glue laminated beam)

A glulam beam, also known as a glue laminated beam, is a structural engineered wood product that is commonly used in building construction. It is made by gluing multiple layers of timber together with strong adhesive, which creates a strong, durable and versatile beam.

Glulam beams consist of a number of layers of wood veneers or laminations, usually between 3 to 7, that are glued together with a high-strength, waterproof adhesive. These laminations are typically made from softwood species such as pine, spruce or fir. The individual laminations are oriented parallel to each other, which distributes the load evenly along the length of the beam and makes it able to withstand a significant amount of weight.

The laminations are kiln-dried and then stacked and glued together under high-pressure conditions. The adhesive used is usually a phenol-resorcinol formaldehyde (PRF) or a melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF) resin, which provides strong bonds between the timber layers. The beams are typically produced in a controlled factory environment, ensuring consistency in the product quality.

One of the main advantages of glulam beams is their high strength-to-weight ratio. The unique composition and manufacturing process of glulam beams make them stronger and stiffer than solid timber beams of the same size. This means that they can support heavy loads over longer spans, making them ideal for use in large structures such as bridges, stadiums, and high-rise buildings.

Glulam beams also have higher resistance to warping, twisting, and shrinking compared to solid wood beams, making them more stable and reliable in various weather conditions. They are also less prone to cracking, which is a common issue with traditional timber beams.

Additionally, glulam beams offer design flexibility and can be manufactured in various sizes and shapes, including curved and arched beams. This allows architects and engineers to create unique and visually appealing structures with the use of glulam beams.

In terms of sustainability, glulam beams have a lower ecological impact compared to other structural materials such as steel and concrete. The manufacturing process produces less waste, and the wood used is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally-friendly building material choice.

In conclusion, glulam beams are strong, durable, versatile, and sustainable engineered wood products that are widely used in the construction industry. Their superior strength and design flexibility make them a popular choice for various structural applications.

Glulam beam sizes

Glulam beam sizes

Glulam (Glue Laminated) beams are widely used in the construction industry due to their versatility, strength, and overall cost efficiency. They are engineered wood beams made by gluing together layers of solid lumber and laminating them with strong adhesive, creating a single larger and stronger beam. This process not only eliminates the weaknesses of individual lumber pieces, such as knots or cracks, but also allows for longer, wider, and stronger beams to be created.

The sizes of glulam beams vary depending on their intended use, building design, and load requirements. However, there are standard sizes that are commonly used in construction projects. The most common widths for glulam beams are 3-1/8”, 3-1/2”, 5-1/8”, 5-1/2”, 6-3/4”, 7”, and 8-5/8”. The depths of glulam beams range from 6” to 18”. These standard sizes are determined by the thickness of each individual laminated piece used to create the beam.

Glulam beams are also available in custom sizes to meet specific project needs. Custom sizes can range from 6” to 48” in depth and up to 120 feet in length. This allows for greater flexibility in design and makes glulam beams suitable for a variety of applications, from small residential projects to large commercial and industrial buildings.

One of the main advantages of glulam beams is their high strength-to-weight ratio. This means that they can support heavy loads while being relatively lightweight, making them easier to handle and install compared to traditional solid wood beams. The strength and stiffness of glulam beams also allows for longer spans, reducing the need for additional support columns or walls and resulting in more open and flexible interior spaces.

When it comes to choosing the appropriate glulam beam size, several factors need to be considered. These include the span of the beam, the type of load it will be supporting, and the spacing of the beams. Structural engineers and architects typically use design software to determine the most suitable size and spacing of glulam beams based on these factors.

In addition to their structural benefits, glulam beams also offer aesthetic advantages. They can be left exposed in a building’s interior, showcasing their natural wood texture and creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. They can also be treated with various finishes for a more refined look.

In conclusion, glulam beam sizes can vary depending on their intended use and project requirements. Standard sizes range from 3-1/8″ to 8-5/8″ in width and 6″ to 18″ in depth, but custom sizes are also available for more specific needs. The strength, versatility, and aesthetic appeal of glulam beams make them a popular choice for construction projects of all sizes.

Depth of Glulam beam

Depth of Glulam beam

Glulam (glue-laminated) beams are composite structural members made from individual pieces of wood glued together to form a single beam. These beams are often used in construction due to their strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal.

The depth of a Glulam beam refers to the vertical distance between the top and bottom surfaces of the beam. It is an important factor that determines the overall strength and performance of the beam, as well as its ability to resist bending, shear, and deflection.

The depth of a Glulam beam is influenced by several factors such as the span (distance between supports), the load it is expected to carry, and the type of construction. The American Institute of Timber Construction (AITC) provides guidelines for determining the minimum depth of Glulam beams based on these factors.

One of the key benefits of Glulam beams is their ability to span longer distances compared to traditional solid wood beams. This is because the individual laminations allow for the transfer of stresses between each layer, resulting in a stronger and stiffer beam. The depth of a Glulam beam is crucial in achieving longer spans as it directly affects the bending strength of the beam.

In addition to strength, the depth of a Glulam beam also has implications for the deflection and serviceability of a structure. A deeper beam will have less deflection and better performance under applied loads, ensuring a more stable and comfortable structure.

To determine the appropriate depth of a Glulam beam, engineers consider a variety of load and design factors such as the building code requirements, aesthetic preferences, and cost considerations. In some cases, shallow Glulam beams may be used in conjunction with steel or concrete beams to achieve the desired performance.

Moreover, the depth of Glulam beams can be increased by adding more laminations, thereby enhancing the beam’s strength and stiffness. However, each additional lamination also adds to the cost and weight of the beam.

In conclusion, the depth of a Glulam beam plays a critical role in its design and structural performance. It is a crucial parameter that must be carefully considered by engineers and architects to ensure the safety, durability, and cost-effectiveness of a structure.

Width of Glulam beam

Width of Glulam beam

A glulam beam, also known as glued laminated timber, is a structural member composed of multiple layers of dimensioned lumber bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant adhesives. It is a commonly used material in the construction industry due to its strength, versatility, and aesthetic appeal.

One important factor to consider when designing with glulam beams is their width. The width of a glulam beam refers to its horizontal measurement from one end to the other. It is a critical dimension that affects the overall strength, stiffness, and behavior of the beam.

The standard widths of glulam beams range from 3 inches to 10 inches, with increments of 1 inch. However, custom widths can also be manufactured to meet specific project requirements. The width of a glulam beam is typically determined by the size and spacing of the supporting members, as well as the loads it needs to carry.

The wider the glulam beam, the greater its load-carrying capacity. This is because a wider beam has a larger cross-sectional area, which allows it to resist bending and shear forces better. It also results in a deeper section, providing more space for the placement of additional reinforcing materials such as steel bars or cables.

Moreover, the width of a glulam beam also plays a crucial role in its deflection or bending behavior. The wider the beam, the stiffer it is, meaning it will deflect less under a given load. This is essential for minimizing any potential sagging or bouncing that may occur in the beam when subjected to live loads.

In some cases, the width of a glulam beam may also affect its appearance. For instance, a wider beam may have a more significant visual impact, making it suitable for projects with a modern or industrial design aesthetic. On the other hand, a narrower beam may be preferred for more traditional or historic building designs.

In conclusion, the width of a glulam beam is a critical parameter that should be carefully considered during the design process. It affects the load-carrying capacity, deflection, and appearance of the beam, making it a crucial element in ensuring the structural integrity and visual appeal of a building. As a civil engineer, it is essential to carefully evaluate and determine the appropriate width of glulam beams to meet the structural and design requirements of a project.

Thumb rule for Glulam beam

Thumb rule for Glulam beam

A Thumb rule for Glulam beam is a general rule of thumb that can be used to estimate the size and load-bearing capacity of a Glulam beam in a construction project. Glulam (Glued Laminated Timber) beams are commonly used in construction for their strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal.

The thumb rule for Glulam beam takes into consideration the span (length) and the maximum load that the beam will need to support. To determine the size of the beam, the following formula can be used:

Width (in inches) = (span (in feet) x load (in pounds))/5

For example, if the span of the Glulam beam is 20 feet and the maximum load it needs to support is 10,000 pounds, then the required width of the beam would be:

Width = (20 x 10,000)/5 = 40 inches

The thumb rule assumes a conservative design approach, with a safety factor of 5. This means that the estimated size of the beam will be able to hold a load that is five times the estimated maximum load.

However, it is important to note that this thumb rule is not a substitute for a detailed structural analysis and design. It should only be used as a quick estimation tool for preliminary design purposes. Factors such as the type of load, the type of Glulam beam (curved, straight, or tapered), and the type of connection between the beam and supporting members should also be considered in the final design.

In addition, the thumb rule assumes a uniform load distribution on the beam. If the load is concentrated in specific areas, a more detailed analysis may be required to determine the appropriate beam size.

It is recommended to consult with a structural engineer to determine the most suitable and cost-effective size for a Glulam beam in a construction project. The engineer will consider all the necessary factors and conduct a thorough analysis to ensure the safety and integrity of the structure.

In conclusion, the thumb rule for Glulam beam can be a useful tool for estimating the size of a beam in a construction project. However, it should be used with caution and in conjunction with a detailed structural analysis to ensure the safety and stability of the structure.


In conclusion, glulam beams offer a versatile and durable option for structural support in various building projects. When determining the proper width and depth of glulam beams, it is important to consider the load, span, and application of the beam. Consulting with a structural engineer and adhering to local building codes and standards is crucial in ensuring the safety and efficiency of glulam beam installations. With the availability of a wide range of sizes, glulam beams can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any construction project. Overall, glulam beams provide a cost-effective and sustainable solution for meeting the structural requirements of a building while maintaining aesthetic appeal.


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