Glulam beam sizes: Width & Depth

Glulam beam sizes: Width & Depth

Glulam beams, also known as glued laminated timber, have become a popular building material due to their strength, durability, and sustainability. These beams are constructed by gluing together several layers of dimension lumber, making them stronger than traditional timber beams. When using glulam beams in construction, it is important to consider their width and depth, as these factors greatly impact their load-bearing capacity and structural stability. In this article, we will explore the different sizes of glulam beams and how they can be used in various applications.

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 type of structural beam composed of multiple wood layers bonded together with strong adhesive. It is an engineered wood product that is widely used in the construction industry for its strength, durability, and versatility.

The process of making glulam beams involves laminating multiple layers of wood veneers or solid lumber boards with a strong adhesive such as phenol-resorcinol or melamine-urea-formaldehyde. The adhesive is applied to each layer, then the layers are pressed together and cured under high pressure and temperature. This creates a strong bond between the layers, forming a single structural member.

The types of wood used in glulam beams vary depending on the desired structural properties and aesthetic appearance. Softwoods such as spruce, pine, and fir are commonly used for their high strength-to-weight ratio, while hardwoods like oak, maple, and cherry are used for their natural beauty and durability.

The shape and size of glulam beams can be customized to fit specific project requirements, making them a versatile choice for various construction applications. They can be produced in straight or curved shapes, and in varying cross-sectional dimensions. This allows for a wide range of design possibilities, from simple residential beams to complex roof structures and bridges.

In addition to their strength and versatility, glulam beams offer several other advantages compared to traditional solid wood beams. They have a higher load-carrying capacity, allowing for longer spans and reduced number of supports. They also have a lower risk of warping or twisting and are less susceptible to shrinkage or expansion caused by changes in humidity and temperature. These properties make glulam beams a reliable option for structural support in buildings, bridges, and other structures.

Another benefit of glulam beams is their sustainability. The production process of glulam beams utilizes smaller and younger trees, making it possible to produce strong, large beams without depleting old-growth forests. The use of adhesives also eliminates the need for metal fastenings, reducing the overall environmental impact.

In conclusion, glulam beams are an innovative and sustainable building material that offers strength, durability, and design flexibility. With their superior structural properties and aesthetic appeal, they have become a popular choice among architects, engineers, and builders for a variety of construction projects.

Glulam beam sizes

Glulam beam sizes

Glulam beams, also known as glued laminated timber beams, have become a popular choice in construction due to their strength, versatility, and sustainability. They are made by bonding together multiple layers of solid lumber boards with strong adhesives under high pressure and heat, resulting in a highly durable and reliable structural component. Glulam beams are commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings for various applications such as roofs, bridges, and floor beams.

One of the main advantages of glulam beams is their ability to be customized to fit a wide range of sizes and shapes. This allows for flexibility in design, making them suitable for a variety of structural needs. Glulam beams can also be fabricated with larger sizes than traditional lumber, allowing for longer spans without the need for additional support columns or posts.

The most common glulam beam sizes range from 6 inches by 6 inches up to 36 inches by 42 inches. The length of the beam can be customized to the specific project needs, but typically ranges from 20 feet to 40 feet in length. The depth of the beam will depend on the span it needs to cover, as well as the load it will need to support. Glulam beams can also be made in curved or arched shapes, offering even more options for unique and creative designs.

The American Institute of Timber Construction (AITC) has established standard sizes for glulam beams based on their strength and stiffness. These sizes are determined by the number and sizes of the individual lumber pieces used in the beam, as well as the type of adhesive used in the bonding process. The AITC also provides design tables and software that engineers can use to select the appropriate glulam beam size for a specific project.

In addition to their strength and versatility, glulam beams also offer several other benefits. They are environmentally friendly, as they are made from sustainable and renewable timber sources. They also have a high fire resistance, making them a safe choice for construction. Glulam beams also have a smooth and aesthetically pleasing appearance, making them suitable for exposed applications without the need for additional finishing or cladding.

In conclusion, glulam beam sizes can be customized to fit a wide range of structural needs, making them a popular choice in construction. Their strength, sustainability, and flexibility in design make them suitable for various applications in both residential and commercial buildings. With the advanced technology and strict regulations in place, glulam beams have become a reliable and cost-effective solution for many construction projects.

Depth of Glulam beam

Depth of Glulam beam

Depth of Glulam beam refers to the vertical dimension or height of the beam from its top edge to its bottom edge. Glulam stands for glued laminated timber, which is a type of structural engineered wood product made by joining together several layers of timber using adhesives.

The depth of a Glulam beam plays a crucial role in determining its strength and load-bearing capacity. It is directly proportional to the beam’s moment of inertia, which is a measure of its resistance to bending. The greater the depth of the beam, the higher its moment of inertia and the more weight it can support.

The standard depth of Glulam beams ranges from 6 inches to 72 inches, with increments of 2 inches. However, custom depths can be manufactured according to the specific requirements of a project. The depth also depends on the span of the beam, which is the distance between its supports. Longer spans require deeper beams to resist bending and maintain structural integrity.

The depth of a Glulam beam is determined based on several factors, such as the load it needs to support, the type of wood used, and the expected deflection (vertical bending) under the load. Structural engineers use mathematical calculations and computer simulations to determine the optimum depth of Glulam beams for a particular application.

In general, deeper Glulam beams are preferred for heavy-load applications, such as bridges, high-rise buildings, and large-span structures. They provide more strength and durability compared to solid wood beams and are also more cost-effective than steel beams. Moreover, the use of Glulam beams allows for more architectural flexibility and design possibilities due to their ability to span longer distances without the need for intermediate supports.

In conclusion, the depth of Glulam beams plays a significant role in their structural performance and is carefully designed and selected by engineers for each project. With their impressive strength, versatility, and sustainability, Glulam beams have become a popular choice in the construction industry, particularly for large-scale projects.

Width of Glulam beam

Width of Glulam beam

Glulam is an engineered wood product that is used in construction for structural purposes. It is made by bonding several layers of dimensional lumber together with durable adhesives, creating a strong and versatile building material. Glulam beams are commonly used in timber framing, bridges, and other applications where long spans and high strength are required.

One of the key features of glulam beams is that they can be manufactured in various sizes and widths, depending on the specific structural requirements of a project. The width of a glulam beam is determined by the number and thickness of the individual layers of lumber used to create it. This allows for great flexibility in design and allows engineers to customize the beam to meet the exact needs of a structure.

The width of a glulam beam also plays a crucial role in its load-carrying capacity. The wider the beam, the greater its ability to resist bending and shear forces. This makes wider glulam beams suitable for applications where heavy loads, such as in bridges and commercial buildings, are expected.

In terms of production, wider glulam beams can be manufactured by joining two or more narrower beams together with overlapping or glued joints. This process, known as scarfing, is commonly used to create longer and wider glulam beams that are then used in large construction projects.

The width of a glulam beam also affects its appearance. Wider beams are more visually appealing and can be used as exposed elements in architectural designs. They can be shaped and curved to create unique and aesthetically pleasing structures, without compromising their strength and load-carrying capacity.

It is important to note that the width of a glulam beam is not the only factor that determines its strength and load-bearing capacity. The type and grade of lumber used, the adhesive used in the bonding process, and the design of the beam also play crucial roles.

In conclusion, the width of a glulam beam is an important consideration in the design and construction of various structures. It can be customized to meet the specific needs of a project and plays a vital role in the overall strength and appearance of the beam. As a civil engineer, understanding the factors that affect the width of glulam beams is essential in ensuring the safety and efficiency of structural designs.

Thumb rule for Glulam beam

Thumb rule for Glulam beam

Glulam (glue-laminated) beams are structural engineered wood products comprised of multiple layers of dimensioned lumber bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant adhesives. They are commonly used in construction for a variety of applications such as floor and roof beams, columns, and purlins. As with any structural element, it is important to follow design guidelines and have a thorough understanding of the material’s properties in order to ensure safe and efficient use.

One useful tool for engineers when working with glulam beams is the thumb rule. The thumb rule is a simplified guide that can be used to quickly estimate the maximum span of a glulam beam based on its depth and the load it will be subjected to. It is not a substitute for proper structural design and calculations, but it can serve as a starting point in the design process.

The thumb rule for glulam beams can be stated as follows:

Maximum Span = Depth (in inches) x 0.03 x Live Load (in pounds per square foot)

As an example, a 10-inch deep glulam beam subjected to a live load of 50 pounds per square foot would have a maximum span of 15 feet (10 x 0.03 x 50 = 15).

It is important to note that this thumb rule is based on general assumptions and should be used with caution. It does not account for other factors that can affect the maximum span of a glulam beam, such as the type of adhesive used, the grade and quality of the lumber, and the conditions of the live load. For more accurate and reliable results, it is recommended to consult with the design values provided by the manufacturer or to use software programs specifically designed for glulam beam design.

In addition, the thumb rule may vary depending on the type and configuration of the glulam beam. For example, a curved or cambered beam may require different calculations. It is also important to follow building codes and industry standards, which may have specific requirements for glulam beams.

In conclusion, the thumb rule is a useful tool for civil engineers when working with glulam beams. However, it should be used with caution and only as a starting point in the design process. It is always best to consult with manufacturers, structural engineers, and applicable codes and standards to ensure the safe and efficient use of glulam beams in construction.


In conclusion, the size and dimensions of Glulam beams play a crucial role in determining the overall strength, stability, and durability of a structure. The width and depth of these beams have a direct impact on their load-carrying capacity and resistance to various forces. Choosing the appropriate size of a Glulam beam requires careful consideration of the intended use, span, and design factors. With the availability of various industry standards and engineering calculations, it is essential to consult a professional to ensure the correct size of Glulam beam is chosen for each specific application. By understanding and implementing the appropriate width and depth of Glulam beams, construction professionals can achieve a strong, reliable, and aesthetically pleasing structure.


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