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May 14th, 2018

Cross-laminated Timber vs. Glue-laminated Timber

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and Glue-laminated timber (glulam) are both engineered wood products that are commonly used for pre-fabricated structural applications in mass timber construction.

What’s is laminated timber?
Laminated timber is an engineered wood product that constitutes two or more pieces of timber laminated together. The timber is laminated together using durable adhesives.

What’s the difference?
Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is when ‘layers of timber, known as lamellas, are glued together with the grain alternating at 90 degree angles for each layer’. Glue-laminated timber (glulam) is when laminates are glued together by layering them with the grain, which produces larger and longer length members.

Cross laminated timber example RMIT Garden Building – Glulam made from ASH’s structural grade Victorian ash

Advantages of Cross-Laminated Timber
There are many benefits of CLT construction, these include:

Strength and uniformity of properties Reductions in assembly time and labour
Fire resistant Sound absorption
Insulating properties High aesthetic quality
Lighter than concrete Easy to erect
Similar characteristics to pre-cast concrete Sustainable building material

The information above was derived from this Wood Solutions document.

Advantages of Glulam
There are even more benefits of Glulam, these include:

Straight and curved members for architectural and design benefit Stronger than solid timber
Large section sizes and long lengths High degree of dimensional stability
Structural capabilities Glulam post and beam allows for more open plan office spaces with a reduction of overall timber applied for the same result
Fire resistant Sustainable
Increase construction speed Save between 5-25% of building costs
Sound absorption Easy to erect and install
One of the best Life Cycle Assesments of all building materials

Which is better?
CLT and Glulam can go hand in hand. A Glulam beam and post ‘grid’ offers open plan design options for applications such as offices and commercial buildings. In these scenarios, laminated hardwood beams and posts are used as supporting grids that incorporate CLT or glulam floor members.

The advantage of using Glulam over CLT is that the open plan of a grid system allows partition walls to be constructed and/or removed when required, and best of all, is cheaper to construct because it has less volume of timber. The ‘honeycomb’ CLT systems are commonly used as load-bearing walls and are fixed in position to make a closed-plan design.

Both CLT and Glulam are sustainable, strong and viable options for mass timber construction. Glulam allows the flexibility of different shapes and the ability to change a space, whereas CLT offers a static system. Which one is best suited to a project will largely depend on design and the building structure.

GL18 Victorian ash beams in Ballantyne project Ballantyne Street – Glulam created from ASH’s Victorian ash structural grade

The future of CLT & Glulam
The mass timber construction industry is on the rise in Australia. We’re seeing more architects and engineers embrace mass timber options, existing buildings include:

  • Barangaroo International Building Sydney – Glulam and CLT
  • RMIT Garden Building – Victorian ash Glulam Beams, concrete floor
  • Latrobe Regional Gallery – Victorian ash Glulam
  • Public Library Docklands – Glulam and CLT
  • Deakin Trade Training Centre – Victorian ash Glulam
  • Marist College Bendigo – Victorian ash Glulam
  • Melbourne Zoo (Predator Precinct) – Glulam
  • And the list goes on…

With many industry professionals opting for mass timber, it will be exciting to watch the development of this inspiring industry.

Did you know?
ASH has an entire product range called MASSLAM to cater to mass glue-laminated beams, we have serviced many projects including the RMIT Garden Building and the Latrobe Regional Gallery. MASSLAM column and beams are sustainable, strong, affordable and fire resistant.

To read more about our glulam range