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    Mark Saville 2006  

Glulam Beams


Glue Laminated or Glulam beams are a great alternative to conventional framing and offer expansive living in an unrestricted setting. Greater open areas and higher ceilings for people that don't like living in a box are achievable because of the longer spans that Glulams offer. The problem with most engineered wood members is that wood chips and a lot of glue are used where glulam beams are made of solid pieces of lumber and a very thin glue line.



Glulam beams can be manufactured with any species of wood and take stain and a finish coat with ease giving a very rich look to any home.

Using engineered roof joists with Glulam Beams allows for thicker insulation and higher R values making a warmer house.

Glulams and Joists

Using Glulam Beams makes it easier to create a beautiful wall of glass for a great view and the benefit of passive solar that will help you with your heating bill in the winter and in the summer when the sun is higher you'll get less heat collecting inside your house because of the added overhang thanks to the added structure of the glulams. The view of the stars at night is well worth the extra cost of the glulam beams.

Notice the styrofoam sandwiched between the headers creating a very good thermal break. The headers have double metal straps on the outside to guard against any bending of the glulam posts in lateral loads.


Glulams are far superior in areas of high wind also because the roof joists are attached in more places than in the case of trusses. Trusses are attached at the outside walls only and even when using hurricane anchors the attachment is minimal. When positioning glulams at 5 foot 4 inch centers, the roof joists are attached to each beam and the beams in turn are attached to posts. Really the whole house would need to blow off the foundation to have the roof come off.



beam spans
Partitions are extended right to the slope of the roof. Notice the change in glulam beam size due to the lesser span. The posts are also glulam.

If you compare a Glulam to a timber strand member, you'll see that there is a lot less glue which makes for a much more healthy environment. Glulams are great for main floor beams and replace the common steel beams with ease. They're a lot easier to handle and offer greater fire resistance when compared to steel which will bend and bring the structure down with them in the event of a fire.


The Glulams are extended out to create a spectacular overhang that gives you a definite feeling of a good solid house. You also get the benefit of built-in shade if you have a deck on the front of your house. Again, the sun is the most hot when it's straight up above you and the added overhang that glulams offer helps to shade that area while letting the sun's heat shine on the deck at the cooler times of the day be it morning or evening.

As you can see the benefits of using glulams far out-weighs the extra cost and you get a much better house because of them. It's really how houses Beams at Eavewere meant to be built and although this method may not be for everyone, for a lot of people it wouldn't be any other way. As a builder it gives me great satisfaction to watch people's re-action when they walk into a house that have glulam beams exposed. It's definitely the "wow" factor that I see.

question: Looking to build a new staircase in my house - open concept with notched stringers. Thinking about using glulam 2x12's or thicker as the stringers and using solid fir for the treads. Striving for a very minimal japanese look. My question is, is it safe to notch out glulam? How much will the beams cost (2x12's @16')? Are they easy to source? And lastly will i be able to match Fir treads or even get glulam for the tread material? 

Hi Craig,
Sorry for the wait, it's been busy here.
Thanks for your question.

I've built stairs with Glu-Lams, I did however,
route the treads in.
You could notch them keeping your 'throat" at
least 5" which should be possible if you use an ideal
rise and run of 7" and 10" 7 being the riser.
You can also use glu-lam treads.
As far as cost, they are expensive and I wouldn't guess at the cost.


Mark Saville 2006 Reprint with Permission only.

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