When you need heavy support, you have to look somewhere other than your local home improvement store's aisle of sawn lumber. Structural members that carry the support of thousands of pounds of the house need to be special: engineered wood beams and joists commonly called laminated veneer lumber (LVL).
While it is possible to layer up ordinary store-bought 2 x 10's and 2 x 12's to shoulder the load, LVLs do the same--and more--in a sleeker form. Lamination packs greater strength in a smaller size, the key to providing homeowners with the airy, spacious open floor plan homes that are so desirable today.
LVL vs. Glulam
LVL employs thin, veneer layers to form larger beams and columns. These layers run perpendicular to the load.
Glulam is different. It uses full-size pieces of lumber glued together under high pressure to form larger beams and columns.
Where to Find
The following is an unrated list of common LVL manufacturers and their brands.
Homeowners will have a difficult time finding LVL at big box home improvement stores due to lack of customer demand. Both Home Depot and Lowe's advertise special-order LVL, but in reality, this product is not available through them. Instead, your local, independent lumber yard should be able to order LVL materials for you.
01 of 05
Boise Cascade's two massive US-based plants in Louisiana and Oregon and its 66+ distribution centers make VersaLam one of the biggies in the LVL field.
This also means that VersaLam is your best bet for obtaining LVL if you are a residential consumer rather than a contractor with inside buying connections.
- Areas Covered: Beams, headers, studs, joists, staircase stringers, rimboards
- Product Names: AllJoist, BCI Joists, Boise Cascade Rimboard, Boise Glulam, VersaLam Beams & Headers, VersaStud
02 of 05
One of the oldest West Coast names in lumber, Weyerhauser produces the popular Microllam® brand of LVL headers and beams.
At 1 3/4 inches thick and ranging from 5 1/2 inches to 18 inches deep, Microllam is a dependable workhorse LVL that covers many needs. Double up a short, shallow piece of Microllam for a rock-steady door header or double up a deeper, longer board for a room beam.
- Areas Covered: Beams, headers, joists, columns, studs, sill plates, rimboards
- Product Names: Microllam® LVL, Parallam® PSL, Parallam® Plus Columns, Parallam® Plus PSL, TJI® Joists, TimberStrand® LSL
03 of 05
Louisiana-Pacific may have a small engineered wood division, but it is an accessible one. Its LVLs range from 1 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches wide, with depths between 3 1/2 inches to 9 1/2 inches.
Most importantly: LP's outreach efforts at educating the trades on LVL, with copious product literature, case studies, and, via a partnership with publisher Hanley Wood, an online certification course called LP University.
- Areas Covered: Joists, studs, rimboards, beams, door and window headers, garage door headers
- Product Names: Louisiana-Pacific LVL products all go by the prefix "LP SolidStart." Thus: LP SolidStart LVL, LP SolidStart I-Joists, LP SolidStart Rim Board, etc.
04 of 05
Based in the densely forested lumber country of South-Central Oregon, 80-year-old Roseburg and its several thousand employees produce a full spectrum of lumber products, from sawn lumber and particleboard to laminate veneer.
Its LVL division is small but substantial. Thicknesses range from 1 1/2 inches to 7 inches, with depths from 3 1/2 inches to 24 inches
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
- Areas Covered: Beams, headers, studs, columns, stair stringers, rimboards
- Product Names: RFPI Joist, I-Joist details, RigidRim Rimboard, RigidLam LVL Headers, Beams and Studs
05 of 05
Though you may have never heard of Universal Forest Products, this Michigan-based company does over $2.7 billion in sales annually and has locations all throughout the U.S. Plus, it has gained a strong foothold in Australia.
- Areas Covered: Beams, headers, rimboards
- Product Names: UFP LVL