Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and its advantages
Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is more than just a group of wooden elements, it’s a versatile building block with a rich history and a bright future. Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is the group of wooden elements that belong to a larger family of structural composite lumber. Its structure and mechanical performances made it one of the most versatile element used widely in almost all building parts.
LVL elements derive from thin veneer layers cut from the large timbers. After they are dried, they are glued with waterproof adhesives that makes them uniform, strong and stiff. Its main characteristic are wood grains parallel with the length of the element. Mechanical strength and stability make the calculation process easier because of the stability and solidity of elements.
LVL elements are used as wide range of structural elements:
- Wooden bearing wall studs,
- Braced wall panel,
- Floor panel,
- Roof panel, rafter or truss,
- Lift shafts,
- Prefabricated modules (bathrooms, containers etc),
- Stairs’ structure – stringer, landing slab, stair blocks.
LVL elements are often compared with GLULAM due to their structural similarity. However, GLULAM is often used for large structures like bridges, where the frequency of the load is more intensive. Both structures are predominantly advised to be used indoor, protected from humidity and rotting it might cause. Otherwise, it is required to use and maintain waterproof coating and other measures that protect from moisture.
Stability of joins is defined by Eurocode document that defines dimensions, distances and angles between screws, fasteners and other connecting elements. Beside structural stability, another resistance is important to calculate during the design process – fire resistance. As other wooden elements, in case of a fire incident, the fire creates a layer of char, which on the surface forms a protective layer that prevents fire to destroy the inner mass and cause the collapse of the element or even the building structure. Dimensions calculation of the element must guarantee the inner wood mass that can resist fire and remain solid and stable.
Sustainability is one of the main advantages of LVL, and that would be one of the main reasons to choose wood and this type of structure
Today, with more complex and higher wooden structures, it is common to use LVL elements widely in hybrid constructions (combined with steel or concrete structures), as well as in the construction of various scales – form tall buildings to modular prefabricated units.
Sustainability is one of the main advantages of LVL, and that would be one of the main reasons to choose wood and this type of structure, especially if some of the current sustainability certificates is planned to be assigned to the buildings (new or reconstructed). Veneers used in LVL production are mostly derived from wood grown in sustainably managed forests, even from fast-grown trees, they are completely recyclable or available for reuse, they have low embodied carbon and they are easily transported and assembled on site, which prevents air pollution, higher costs and waste.
Katara Hills development in Qatar
Designing structures for one of the most modern and sustainable quarter in Qatar, we took part in large construction initiative during preparations to host football World championship. Uplifted upon a small hill that prevents views from the surrounding streets, Katara Hills development presents small isolated quarter and exclusive tourist attraction. Villas surround centrally positioned hotel. Structure of all buildings were built in steel structure filled and covered with LVL panels.
The challenge was to design wooden laminated veneer lumber elements in such a way that they follow the main design concept – simple shape of the villas, while at the same time contain all the benefits this technology offers: sustainability, beauty, good design and economic potential.
The whole area of the complex is 230000 sqm. Combined with luxury materials like leather, marble, rich textiles and stone, the structural concept in steel and wood perfectly embodied the sense of modern lifestyle that strives to support nature.