Tag Archives: glu-lams

An Advance Article Preview for The Advertiser

Besides being a semi-regular contributor to Rural Builder magazine, I have also had articles published in several other lumber and wood truss periodicals. I’ve been asked to write an article for The Advertiser (https://www.componentadvertiser.com/), which I share with you below:

Increase Your Post Frame Sales

Nearly every U.S. and Canadian metal plate connected wood truss manufacturer has one or more clients who either construct pole barns or sell kit packages. Not much excitement though in dealing with typical orders of usually anywhere from four to 10 trusses per building.

Money can certainly be made in post frame industry sales. My 1990’s truss plant, based in Spokane, Washington, almost exclusively built pole barn trusses. It was not unusual for us to have backlogs of weeks and when it came to post frame trusses. We dominated Northwest U.S.

How we did it.

We tailored our inventory to best build to our client’s needs. By having 2×6 2850msr and 2400msr in wider widths, we could provide smaller dimension chords than our competitors, with lighter trusses. Considering jobsite manhandling involved, lighter weight trusses are an advantage! And let’s face it – those high grades have very few visual defects, resulting in some very pretty trusses!

Also in our inventory, for web stock, was msr 2×3. Many truss webs can be higher grade 2×3, rather than 2×4. Again, much 2×3 msr was much prettier wood than 2×4 visually graded material others were using, not to mention saving truss weight.



Webs requiring lateral bracing were checked to see if a larger dimension or higher grade would eliminate bracing. Installing job site bracing take both material and labor, reducing braces for a minimal investment makes for happy clients.

Be a Consultant.

Being able to be different in the post frame industry gives one a leg up, where virtually everyone does things alike. When a truss client can say, “I do things just like everyone else and also provide….” to their potential customer, it gives them an advantage.

Most post frame roof trusses will be 40 foot spans or less. Point out very small price differences to add five or 10 pounds per square foot (psf) of load to top chords. Many post frame trusses are designed with a bottom chord dead load of one or two psf. One of my most asked questions of my Ask The Pole Barn Guru™ advice column – is how to add a ceiling to post frame buildings. A five psf bottom chord dead load would solve this dilemma. Both of these are points your client can use to sell why he has a better building than Brand X.

Offer More Stuff.

Your delivery truck starts spinning dollar signs an instant a key gets close to an ignition switch. Since you are going to make a jobsite trip, why not add more product?

True glu-laminated post frame building columns are a wonderful thing – strong, light weight and straight. In most instances a product of 1650f three ply 2×6 glulam will replace 6×6, 6×8 and in some cases 6×10. Downside of glu-lams – current lack of distribution, as manufacturers are primarily in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Work with a manufacturer to bring in ¼ or ½ of a truckload of 14 to 24 foot lengths, they might even help to floor some inventory. Once builders start using them, they will never go back to solid sawn columns. This provides another differentiation for your client and it helps to tie them to you as their supplier.

Sell them msr lumber.

With 2×6 1650 msr being over 40% stronger than best commonly used visually graded #2, you can do your client some favors in helping to point out strength and quality benefits. Side benefit for you – quicker inventory turns. Buy more lumber get better negotiating power with wholesalers and mills.

Glu-lam column and selling lumber margins are not going to be as high as your truss margins, expect maybe 20%, however consider this a bonus profit you would never have otherwise had. I always felt 20% of something beat 100% of nothing every day.

Expand your post frame building industry view and increase your bottom line!

Glu-lams: Which End is UP?

Which End is Up?

Recently one of my articles (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/06/nail-laminated-columns/) triggered quite a response from the President of Ohio Timberland Products, Inc. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/07/mike-burkholder/).

Luckily, the two of us settled matters like most human males – we duked it out (at least electronically), got past it and then figuratively went and had a beer together. I’ve since had the opportunity to learn a lot from Mike Burkholder.

One thing he mentioned in an email had me chuckling:

“To try and make sure an incorrect application does NOT occur we clearly state on a column sticker placed at the top of every post the need for this material as determined by the building designer (I actually plan to include a copy of this sticker in my updated website).  The sticker shows which end is up (and yes I did have one rocket scientist many years ago think the “green end” went in the air), the correct orientation (turned strong axis perpendicular to wind loading), noting the presence of mechanical fasteners as well as need to fasten column together at the top after trimming (the one aspect of NDS 15.3.3 we don’t meet).  If you look at any nail lam column on the market today you’ll see similar column stickers…..they all originated from ours.”

I just could not fathom how anyone could look at a column (whether nail laminated like Ohio Timberland’s or glu-lams) and place the untreated end in the ground and the pressure preservative treated end (which is clearly green colored from the chemicals) up into the air.

To me the chances of this occurring were about equal to the story of Facebook about the planet Mars will make a once-in-our-lifetimes, remarkably close approach to Earth on 27 August 2015.

Well I used www.snopes.com to check out the Mars story, and it is false – which got me worried the upside down glu-lams thing could happen again….

Which it did.

Twice in the same week.

glu laminated columns upside downIn one case, the client happened to call (slightly irate) because he had placed some of the glu-lams in the holes before he noticed there were some with the pressure treated end up! Luckily, all he had to do was pull the columns out of the holes and flip them end-for-end.

The other story…..not so happy.

In the client’s own words:

“We added extra concrete to the holes for a full 5.5 yd. pour instead of 2.5. That left only about 4 – 8” in each hole to be filled in. Now for the issue: Had a guy over 2 days ago who is a builder and friend of my daughter. He looked at the pressure treated poles and informed me that the crew had put ½ of them in upside down, that is, the poles were only ½ pressure treated to begin with and only about ½ of them were in the holes correctly. The others were put in with the unpressured treated ends in the other holes. It is a bit late now to point fingers or re-do the structure and the construction crew had no idea that only ½ of any pole had treatment and the other half did not. How bad is this and is there any mitigation you might recommend? I have decided to go ahead and pour concrete for the floor so at least the poles will be covered.”

Short of tearing the building down and replacing the columns, about all which can be done is to try to mitigate the potential problems with the glu-lams.

Most decay problems occur within the top foot of the soil, the suggestion was made to liberally coat the columns with Copper Naphthenate, from the top of the concrete encasement up. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/09/pressure-treated-lumber-2/)

It might also be possible to use a partial Plasti-sleeve (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/04/plasti-sleeves/) from the top of the concrete encasement up, sealing it tightly to the top of the concrete.

Using glu-lam columns? Please make certain the pressure preservative treated end is placed where it belongs – in the ground!

Dear Mike Burkholder

Dear Readers: For those of you missing the past two days, or yesterday’s blog at most, please back up a day or two to bring you up to speed for my response to a seemingly heated rejoinder by Mike Burkholder of Ohio Timberland Products to a blog I wrote.  This is published in it’s entirety.

Dear Mr. Burkholder ~

Thank you very much for your comment response to my blog article on nail laminated columns. I’m humbled someone with your extensive bacPole Barn Guru Blogkground and experience would take the time from their busy schedule to write.

On an all-too-frequent basis we are asked by clients to compare the Hansen Pole Building against those who profess to be offering the same or better. Sadly, there are resellers of the Nail-Lam “PLUS” columns, manufactured by your company – Ohio Timberland Products, Inc., who are promoting the columns as being glu-laminated columns. Your website (www.ohiotimberland.com) clearly delineates your products as being nail-laminated, leaving the question to be are the resellers confused about the columns you manufacture, or is it a deliberate misrepresentation on their part?

From the information provided on your website, if a client told me they had to have a nail-laminated column, there is more than a fair chance I would recommend your product over any others for two reasons.

Number One – the structural finger joint between the upper and lower portions of the column. I’ve been told, by more than one glu-lam manufacturer, of the finger joint being the toughest part of the process to get right, and it appears you have “glued it” (as opposed to “nailed it”). The structural finger joint has to be a huge strength step up from non-reinforced butt end splices, flat steel plates or even “gang nail” style plating.

Number Two – your use of a through mechanical fastener, as opposed to just nailing, to join the individual plies. I began fabricating nail laminated columns at my first business about 30 years ago. When we had them tested at the Oregon State University Forest Products lab, we found nearly every failure came from the middle ply – because it had twice the number of nails into it (as the nailing was from both sides, into the middle member). Your superior fastening method creates a far more even load distribution across the members.

In my humble opinion, these two features alone should be able to be presented as benefits to the end user which should sway anyone who is considering a nail-lam to yours, regardless of the price point.

Possibly without realizing it you have your foot in the door at Hansen Pole Buildings, for a tremendous selling opportunity. We’ve always endeavored to offer to our clients the best possible value for their post frame building investment. All you need to do is provide a preponderance of evidence supporting the benefits to the ultimate end user of your product – the building owner. I’d encourage you (or one of your sales team) to contact Eric Graff, the managing partner of Hansen Pole Buildings, to make a presentation.

I personally will extend to you this offer – you are invited to guest blog about your Nail-Lam “PLUS” columns and I will run your offering verbatim, with small caveats. It should be written to the end user (again, the building owner) and extoll the benefits to them (not merely features). Any claims of superiority should be backed up by factual proof (e.g. testing results). And – once your article is published, a link to it is added on your website.

For my own curiosity I do have a couple of questions, which I am relatively certain you can easily answer.

If I am not mistaken, you testified before ALSC (American Lumber Standards Committee)in 2012 regarding design values for visually graded SYP. This effort resulted in your landing on the SPIB (Southern Pine Inspection Bureau) T&R Committee. This might lead me to believe you are pretty much an expert when it comes to the use of Southern Pine. 

In looking at the design value table presented on https://ohiotimberland.com/literature_zoom.html I see an “E” value presented of 1,700,000. When I look at https://www.southernpine.com/app/uploads/200N_NDV_tables1-2_2013_L.pdf effective June 1, 2013 the “E” value for No. 1 Southern Pine is 1,600,000. I can only surmise this is a resultant of actual product testing, or my unfamiliarity with the intricacies of the NDS. The same would apply to deriving an Fb value of 1897 psi (for a multiple 2×6 product) from a base value of 1350 psi.

I’m always striving to learn more and would appreciate it if you could take the time to educate me on this.

The other would be (from your website), “adhesive between plys greatly cuts down on interlayer slip resulting in better weak-axis stiffness”. If you could share with me the testing results on this, I’d be very interested in reviewing them. I can see how this could be a benefit (provided the stiffness is adequate) in being able to utilize the columns in an unbraced situation such as open side sheds, etc.

Again, thank you very much for your time and I will look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Best regards ~

Mike, The Pole Barn Guru

Parallam® Plus PSL

Justine (a Hansen Buildings Project Coordinator) recently needed to order some glu-laminated columns for a pole building kit package. One of our vendors recommended she instead order Parallam® Plus PSL columns instead, insisting they would be as strong as or stronger than glu-lams.

Parallam beamParallam® is the brand name for an engineered wood product developed by Trus Joist MacMillan which is made from veneer strands laid in parallel alignment and bonded with adhesive. It is used for beams, headers, columns, and posts, among other uses.

The rated strength of Parallam®  is greater than the wood from which it is made. This is because knots and other imperfections are removed so strength variability is less than in solid sawn wooden beams.

When I served on the board of directors of the MSRLPC (Machine Stress Rated Lumber Producers Council), we had the opportunity to tour MacMillan’s Parallam® manufacturing plant. Truly an amazing process, as the product is continuously formed – it is extruded, not unlike plastic pipe! This means the maximum length of the beams are limited only by the maximum length capacity of the plant.

The product is produced as a huge rectangular “slab”, which is then cut down to popular sizes – widths of 3½”, 5¼” or 7″ and depths between 9¼” and 18″.

Parallam® Plus PSL columns are typically manufactured in three sizes: 3-1/2” x 5-1/4”, 5-1/4” x 5-1/4” and 7” x 7”. For use as a structural building column, Weyerhauser has simplified product design and specification by grouping the AWPA (American Wood Preservers Association) Use Categories into Service Levels. As such, the Service Level for exposed posts in contact with the ground would be SL 3.

In this application, the Parallam® Plus PSL columns would have a Fb (fiberstress in bending) value of 1344 psi. Multiplying this value by Sm (section modulus of the column) gives a value of 32,413.5.

Most typically, Hansen Buildings utilizes glu-laminated columns as manufactured by companies such as Timber Technologies, LLC, which have a Fb of 1897.5 psi. With a standard 3 ply 2×6 column measuring 4-1/8” x 5-3/8”, Fb x Sm for the glulams equals 37,688.7.

While the Parallam® Plus PSL columns are a great product, the vendor was incorrect in his advice to Justine, as the glu-lam would be over 16% stronger in bending. This is where it pays off to do investigative research on a product, rather than just relying upon what may perhaps be errant information from a vendor.