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LVL steals a march
Published:  24 March, 2010

LVL, such as STEICOultralam, can be machined using traditional tools

LV L is used in a wide variety of applications. David Castle reports

Since its introduction to the UK market in the early to mid 1990s, LVL has made advances in a wide range of applications. Traditionally used as beams in floor applications for masonry build, along with beams and rimboards in timber frame constructions, applications now include uses such as walkway gantries and panels, and exposed beams.

“We’ve also seen the introduction of ‘portal frames’ for projects such as swimming pools, gyms and
recreation areas, where large clear spans are required, joining the wide range of uses for LVL,” said Steico managing director Andy Moore.

He believes there are further opportunities, including replacing many applications where steel frames have traditionally been used and in areas where large clear spans are required, along with a natural finish. “LVL can be applied in commercial and industrial applications such as trailer building [replacing hardwoods] and in the door industry where strength, stability and workability are required,” he said.

Finnforest has seen a growth in specification by architects in both public and private projects for its Kerto LVL – and the Finnjoist, of which Kerto is a key part, forms the basis of the company’s new Low Energy wall and roof solution.

Simon Jones, business development director at Boise Cascade, believes LVL has huge potential for applications beyond that of simply supporting the company’s sister I-joist products. “Our BC Calc software includes a very useful ‘cut LVL’ function, enabling the user to determine suitable products to fit to certain architectural requirements,” he said.

“Some of our customers have the ability to rip down Versa-Lam to suit smaller depth needs such as lintels or beams to support trusses. The long lengths in which Versa-Lam is available have proved a very effective solution in many disproportionate collapse requirements.”

LVL’s strength and speed of installation are helping to push the material into larger applications such as schools, warehousing and commercial building design. Finnforest’s Kerto Ripa and Kerto Portal Frame are two good examples. “Kerto Ripa can be used to create long clear roof spans of up to 18m without columns or beams, delivering much greater design flexibility,” said Finnforest’s building solutions director Kevin Riley.

“With high-speed installation of up to 1,000m2 a day, a genuine benefit of the system, buildings can be made weatherproof very quickly, reducing the need for protective coverings during construction,” he added.