What Is a Laminated Veneer Lumber Beam?

A laminated veneer lumber beam is a beam constructed by gluing thin layers of wood together, similar to plywood. Unlike plywood, however, laminated veneer lumber beams are designed to bear heavy loads.

Laminated veneer lumber is a type of manufactured lumber product known as structural composite lumber. To make laminated veneer lumber, thin slices of wood, called veneers, are bonded together using a strong, waterproof adhesive. The blocks of glued wood are called billets. Once the billet is formed, it is cut to the desired dimensions. By bonding the veneers using special techniques, laminated veneer lumber that is much longer than standard lumber can be produced.

Orienting the wood grain of the veneers in the same direction, usually along the length, produces a final product that can handle heavier loads than conventional beams. Because the product is manufactured using individual veneers, defects in the wood can be spread out or completely eliminated, resulting in a stronger product. Laminated veneer lumber is resistant to splitting, twisting and warping. In addition to beams, it is used in a variety of framing applications, such as headers, rafters and joists. It is also commonly used for scaffold planking.

Some other types of structural composite lumber include parallel strand lumber, laminated strand lumber and oriented strand lumber.