Glulam vs LVL vs LSL vs PSL? What is the Difference?

Before knowing the difference between Glulam vs LVL, you must know what is glulam and lvl. Though, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive in to find out which one of these are stronger options for your next wood projects.

What is Glulam

Glulam vs LVL

As the name says, it’s a short for glued laminated timber. In short, we can say it is a wood product manufactured by glueing together pieces of timber (laminates). Glulam Timbers are made by many layers of wood critic lumber held together with high-strength adhesive. That means sticking pieces of timber together to make larger pieces. Hence it is an innovative and versatile laminated beam used in any residential, or commercial construction.

Not only that, it could also be used for a range of purposes like a large span structural beam to small wooden construction. With that being said, you can see these in swimming pools or any sports hall roof. Basically, wherever a concrete structure or any steel structure is needed for a building, glulam can be a good alternative too.

A glulam timbers unit looks like a well-bonded stack of a large lumber glued all-together. Not only in a variety of sizes but it can also be customised with different materials to create a wide range of designs with unique specifications. Due to its strength and stiffness, it offers the essential component used for building vaulted roofs, domes, and bridges.

The large sizes and long lengths – this can be stretched curved or straight. This is often used as structural beams.  

Glue laminated timber has Increased strength due to the laminating process. Do you know? glulam is stronger than solid timber because it has a wider distribution. It is also comparable to steel in strength but is much lighter.

Glulam has a high degree of dimensional stability – it is manufactured from the seasoned timber. Thus, it is less prone to movement caused by changes in moisture. However, you must take care if they are used in an environment that has rapidly changing humidity (such as the indoor swimming pool). Swelling and shrinkage can cause splitting. And Sometimes in an extreme event, delamination of the beam can also happen.

It has a good reliability – glulam is created to strict quality requirements from the stress- graded timber. It is also known as the structural capacity.

Good Chemical resistance: glulam timbers are resistant to most acids, rust and other corrosive agents as well. Typically used in fellmongers, fertiliser storage and swimming pools.

Glulam sometimes requires careful handling and safe storage to prevent damage. It is very important to follow strict precautionary measurements to ensure their greatest structural capacity.

Surface scratches are the most common problem when handling glulam. So, make sure that you always use fabric slings when lifting it. When we talk about storage, the ideal position is vertical. You can also consider covering them with a plastic sheet to secure them from the rain. In addition, glulam timbers aren’t exposed to the outdoor conditions until they’re ready for installation. People often wonder which one is better lvl vs glulam? What to choose? Well that totally depends on the work and the structure you are going to have.

Types of Glulam Grades

Glue laminated timber material comes in four basic different grades, as mentioned below.


Framing grades are the common choice for home-building and other areas. It is mostly used where it is more likely to be combined with dimension lumber. It is recommended only for use in concealed areas.


Industrial-grades for glulam material are recommended for areas where the aesthetics are not a major issue. The glulam is finished slightly better compared to the framing grade. It is useful in areas not visible to the general public. This appearance grade sometimes shows wood imperfection on its surfaces, like knots and voids. However many of people might get confused about glulam vs lvl.


It appearance is highly recommended when glulam timber is going to be used as a facade material. This grade offers a high-quality finished product. Where the wooden voids and imperfections are treated to provide a smoother and attractive surface.


This grade of glulam is available only by a special order and usually is reserved for special situations. And predetermined areas, where a high concentration of people is expected. This grade offers the smoothest surfaces for the highest-quality finished product.

Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL)


PSL generally made by laying veneer into long strands and then bonding them together. It is used in such areas where you need high strength in long-span beams and heavy headers. Columns are available in different sizes comparable to sawn wood members of 4×4 to 8×8.

Did you know? PSL is more expensive than Glulam, LSL, or LVL beams.

PSL is also known as Parallam. PSL is available in a wide range of wood grains. This makes it a prime choice for exposed woodwork. PLS can can be used as a moisture resistance which makes it suitable for exterior use, even in such environments.

Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)

Glulam vs LVL

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is also one of the most used for constructional applications. It is a product that has been made from multiple thin layers of veneer.

The production of LVL started in 1941. It was made for aircraft parts. And was created from 3.6 mm thick Sitka spruce veneer. Because of its great demand, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory did a substantial amount of research related to improving the strength properties. Douglas fir is the most used raw material for LVL, also to yellow poplar, Southern pine and other softwoods in the United States.

LVL is just another common timber wall cladding option in the modern world. This is also known as microlam. LVL is manufactured from the peeled or sliced thin veneers. Then it is laid in a parallel arrangement and joined together under heat and pressure.

The standard sizes are widths of 3 ½, 5 ¼, and 7 inches, and depths from 9 ½ to 24 inches deep. Columns are also available in sizes from 4×4 and 8×8.

The main reason of using LVL is that it cost less. A unique advantage of this beam type is that you can fabricate it to match narrower beam widths.

Glulam vs LVL

Major advantages of LVL include the dimensions, shapes, high strength properties and the low cost. The size of LVL is not limited with the log size, due to its manufacturing method. Are you still wondering about lvl vs glulam?

LVL is one of the strongest wood-based construction materials. Because it is manufactured with homogeneous quality with the minimum number of defects or even distribution of defects. Also, the mechanical properties of the final product can be predicted in easy steps.

LVL is a popular timber wall cladding option that demands careful handling too. It should always be handled the same way as solid timber. If proper care does not take, damage to the edges and exposed corners is inevitable. Glulam vs lvl beams both work differently depending the the structure you want.

On-site, LVL beams should always be laid flat off the ground. It’s important that they should be dry before they get installed. As far as weather damage is concerned, short-term exposure doesn’t affect its performance but long-term exposure can do a major damage. Thus, you should always consider preservative treatment and coat the material with a protective sheet.

Both glulam and LVL have their own advantages in the construction industry. Glulam beams are for a specific design. When they brought on-site, they’re usually custom sanded, stained, and finished. They look stunning But can be expensive. Although they’re much lighter than concrete and steel, they’ry strong enough. Glulam is widly used in the construction of large buildings, including universities, airports, hotels, and museums.

Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL)

LSL is made from flaked wood strands that can resemble an OSB (oriented strand board). Those strands are usually arranged in a parallel way to the longitudinal axis. Stud options are available in sizes of 2×4, 2×6 that are stronger, straighter, and a little longer than the average sawn lumber. It is least expensive option when compared to other beams.

Because of the strength, LSL beams have a larger capacity for penetrations compared to other wood beams. The LSL may not as strong as LVL or PSL beams but is generally cheaper and better for option for small projects. It works well in rim conditions because of its limited shrinkage, cupping, and high holding strength.


Glulam vs LVL

So which one is better Glulam vs LVL?? You’ll only find the LVL buried in the walls, usually over windows and doors too. Not just for decks or other exterior structures, they also tend to get covered up with many different finishing products.

Glulam or LVL Both glulam and LVL are strong materials. Your choice between the two will depend on the type of constructions project that you’re working on. Keep visiting Architecture’s Idea for new updates.

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