What is an LVL?

By Dan Martel, P.E. | October 1, 2019

Laminated veneer lumber, abbreviated to LVL, is a type of structural composite lumber (SCL) commonly used in wood construction for both residential and commercial buildings.

Similar in concept to plywood, LVLs consist of many thin (less than a quarter inch) wood veneers adhered with high strength adhesives. The veneers are cut to beam-shaped sizes, and they have great flexural strength, meaning they are a stronger alternative to wood beams. While LVLs are a more expensive construction material than solid sawn commodity lumber, its strength allows for smaller beams to be used in similar applications. Since they are made from wood, they can be cut, nailed, and bolted just like wood. And the lapped veneer joints allow for beams to be produced in much longer spans than solid sawn lumber.

We often design LVLs as large beam spans to create broad living spaces and help create open concepts. LVLs can also be used as roof rafters that span further and can reduce the number of load bearing walls in a house for more flexible floor spans. Check out one of our licensed engineers, Brian Ki, holding a 24-inch deep LVL before it is bolted to other LVLs and installed in a new house.

Dan Martel, P.E.
Senior Engineer

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