Tag Archives: laminated veneer lumber

Wide Clearspan Sheds Using LVL’s

Loafers Bar and GrillBack in 2007, we designed and provided a pole building kit package for Chris W. in North Carolina. Chris’ building is 40 foot wide by 50 feet long enclosed with a 14 foot eave height. Along one sidewall his building has a 20 foot wide roof only shed, with a 10’ low eave.

In order to achieve the maximum amount of clear height in the shed, our design utilized LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) for rafters to clearspan the width of the shed – without the need for prefabricated roof trusses, which would have limited vertical space.

Read more about LVLs here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/lvl/

Chris has found one of my rules of pole buildings to be correct – your worldly possessions will increase to fill all available space plus 10%!

Loafers Bar and GrillIn fact, after about 16,000 buildings, I am still awaiting the first phone call from a client to let me know their building is just too big!!

Chris’ idea is to add a side shed on the opposite side, at least 24 foot wide, and perhaps as great as 40 feet!

And it CAN be done!

For Chris, or anyone else considering doing something similar, there are some design concerns. First – with a roof slope of less than 3/12 the warranty on the roof steel will be void. I feel the issue is more of one of keeping things from “sitting” on the roof panels, than anything else.

Second – Chris is not in an area prone to snow, but in snow country, the weight of snow sliding off from the main roof onto the lower sloped shed roof has to be considered.

So (in case you are wondering), how big of an LVL does it take to span the 40 feet? With snow not being a factor, my rough calculations so far indicate something around 3-1/2 inches in width by 14 inches in depth (obviously subject to review by engineering)!

Pretty amazing stuff!

LVL: I Woodn’t Use It

I Woodn’t Use It (pun intended)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with LVLs (Laminated Veneer Lumber) here is a good primer:


For the thousands of my regular daily readers, you know Justine well – she is the one who makes sure all of the good stuff arrives at client’s jobsites when they are supposed to, and in the condition intended.

Black LVLJust the other day she forwards me a photo of what appears to be an LVL which spent too much time on the beach with me in Ecuador. In lumber terms, “It is sunburned”. As Justine asked me, “Black Lumber”?

I was able to find (courtesy of https://www.internationalbeams.com) the correct storage procedures for LVLs:

  • LVL should be protected from the weather and stored lying flat.
  • Product must not be stored in contact with the ground.
  • Store LVL in wrapped bundles, provide air circulation and support
    bundles with 2×4 stickers.
  • On the job site, protect from the weather both before and after
    installation. LVL is intended for use in covered, dry conditions only.
  • Do not install wet or visually damaged product.

I will admit it was really difficult to find “expert” opinions on whether to use this LVL or not.  Is it still structurally sound?  So I thought I would share a few “less than expert” opinions I found on various message boards on the ‘net:

“I would pay close attention to the layers to make sure they are still holding tight. LVL beams are GLUED together, if enough moisture gets in there the glue could start peeling apart making the beam considerably weaker. I wouldn’t take my chances unless I knew it never got wet.”


I would have to see it, but if there is no rot or mold growing on the beam, I would still use them. Few months outside just seasons the wood.”

 And my favorite (this is pretty scientific, so hold on):

“If the LVL got wet enough to swell up and then they dried out and show any sign of delamination, they lose a lot of strength. I tested this, they break much easier. If they just weathered, they should be ok. If you have a new piece of LVL, Cut a test piece, drive a car or tractor over it to see what it takes to break it. Do the same test with a weathered piece.”

My advice to Justine was, “I would ask the supplier to either replace it, or to provide a letter from the company which manufactured it, to confirm it is adequate to be used structurally.”

LVL: Laminated Veneer Lumber

What is an LVL? LVLLaminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is an industry standard in framing of new wood frame buildings. LVLs are used to replace solid wood beams and joists. They are made in a process similar to plywood, where rotary peeled wood veneers (usually pine or fir) are dried then laminated together with glue and adhesive resins under heat and high pressure. Why use LVL’s? According to APA (The Engineered Wood Association – formerly the American Plywood Association) LVL is part of a broader family of products called SCL (Structural Composite Lumber). LVL is the most widely used SCL in the family. Laminated beams offer enhanced dimensional stability, along with fewer imperfections and stronger engineering properties than standard lumber. Standard widths (thicknesses) are 1 ¾ inches and 3 ½ inches. Lengths are available up to 60 feet. Standard depths are 9 ¼. 9 ½, 11 ¼. 11 7/8. 14. 16 and 18 inches. How strong is an LVL?  Laminated Veneer Lumber creates structural elements which virtually never fail if used correctly. Its load capacities are precisely calculated for each use. LVL grains all run in the same direction which makes it very stiff and stable. Due to its high tensile strength it has the ability to support a great deal of weight along its length without sagging. This strength also gives the ability to span long distances without the need for posts. LVLs have high design values not only for bending, but also stiffness and shear strength. Where are LVL’s most used?  In framing buildings, LVL is most often used for beams and joists. Its strength makes it good for door and window headers, stair stringers and other beams. Designed for structural applications, the surface finish is of low architectural quality. In heavier construction, they are used for support conditions requiring a high-strength lightweight member. Many companies offer engineered wood  products, each with its own specific engineering properties. Does an LVL shrink or warp?  As a low moisture content, factory produced product, LVLs resist shrinkage, warping, splitting and checking. Many manufacturers use sealants on their LVLs to protect from moisture damage. No special fasteners are required for assembly, LVLs installs just as easily as ordinary lumber. LVLs have no defects to cut out, reducing jobsite waste from downfall. How about saving trees?  Green concerned? As LVLs use veneer rather than whole sawn timber, many trees are saved. LVL production uses wood resources efficiently as the veneers come from trees with wood otherwise considered low in quality.