SELLING ENGINEERED LUMBER: Selling Glulam for Multifamily Projects

The Glen at University Park, a complex of 107 three-story rowhouse condominiums for students at California State University, San Bernardino, tells a story that is replaying in multifamily construction all over the country: The condos feature woodframe construction that includes glulam beams in the floor and roof framing.

Project engineer Amir Deihimi, PE, president of Core Structure, found that switching to glulam for structural beams in the floor and roof saved 20-30% over alternative framing options. “I had been under the impression that glulam was always custom and had a long lead time,” Deihimi says. “But the manufacturer had standard sizes and I-joist-compatible depths stocked at the lumberyard; there was no waiting for an order because it was all in stock.”

Glulam beams being used for cantilevers and headers
Glulam beams are being used for cantilevers and headers at the Westend garden apartment complex, under construction in Denver.

The ability to source products readily through their lumber dealer is an important factor enabling builders and developers to quickly respond to the high demand for rentals with multistory wood-frame structures. Multifamily housing starts reached 355,000 in 2014, a 16% increase over 2013, according to the Census Bureau.

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Structural frames with engineered wood products offer a lightweight, strong, waste-reducing solution to your customers’ most complex multifamily structural designs. There are several engineered wood floor systems that meet the one-hour fire-resistance requirements of multifamily structures. OSB and plywood sheathing feature prominently as an affordable, durable option for floor, wall, and roof sheathing. Multifamily designers are also turning to the design flexibility of glulam, which boasts greater strength and stiffness than dimension lumber and easily accommodates long spans. Glulam beams are available in widths that match standard 2×4 and 2×6 wall construction, in I-joist-compatible depths, and in commonly used dimensions.

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