APA - The Engineered Wood Association

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Builder Tips For Glulam Applications

Proper Storage

APA EWS trademarked glulam beams must be stored properly and handled with care to assure optimum performance. In the yard or on the job site, a well-drained covered storage location is recommended. Keep glulam members off the ground with lumber blocking, skids or rack systems. Beams should remain wrapped to protect them from moisture, dirt, sunlight, and scratches. Cut slits in the bottom of the wrapping to allow ventilation and water drainage.

Protection With Sealants and Wrappings

Beams may be protected with sealants, primers or paper wrap when they leave the manufacturing plant.

Sealants on the ends of beams help guard against moisture penetration and checking, so a coat of sealant should be applied to the ends of any beams trimmed or otherwise cut in the field. Surface sealants, which can be applied to the top, bottom, and sides of beams, resist dirt and moisture and help control checking and grain raising. Use a penetrating sealant if beams will be stained or given a natural finish. A primer coat also protects beams from moisture and dirt and provides a paintable surface.

Water-resistant wrappings are another way to protect beams from exposure to moisture, dirt and scratches during transit, storage and erection. Because sunlight can discolor beams, opaque wrappings are recommended. Beams can be wrapped individually, by the bundle or by the load. If it is necessary to remove portions of the wrapping during the erection sequence to facilitate making connections, remove all of the wrapping to avoid uneven discoloration due to exposure to the sun.

Loading And Handling

Glulam beams are commonly loaded and unloaded with a fork lift. For greater stability, the sides of the beams, rather than the bottoms, should rest on the forks. Supporting extremely long beams on their sides, however, can cause them to flex excessively, increasing the risk of damage. Use multiple forklifts to lift long glulam members. If a crane with slings is used to load or unload beams, provide adequate blocking between the cable and the member. Use wooden cleats or blocking to protect corners. Only non-marring fabric slings should be used to lift glulam beams. Using spreader bars can reduce the likelihood of damage when lifting especially long beams with a crane.

Transporting Glulam Beams

When transporting beams, stack them on lumber blocking or skids. Beams can rest on their sides or bottoms. Secure the load with straps to keep it from shifting. Protect beam corners with "softeners" when strapping down the load.

Installation On The Job

One of the advantages of the high strength to weight ratio of glulam beams is that in many residential and light commercial applications, they can be installed with forklifts, front-end loaders and other commonly available construction equipment. That eliminates the time and cost required to have a crane on the job site.