What Is A Microllam?

By Todd Fratzel on Framing

Microllam / LVL Beams

LVL Microlam Door Header Beam 300x225 What Is A Microllam?Recently a reader asked: “What Exactly Is A Microllam”? It’s understandable that there could be confusion because the industry is full of all kinds of engineered lumber today. In this article I’d like to point out what a Microllam or LVL beam is.

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is an engineered wood product that uses multiple layers of thin wood assembled with adhesives. It offers several advantages over typical milled lumber: it is stronger, straighter, and more uniform. It is much less likely than conventional lumber to warp, twist, bow, or shrink due to its composite nature. Made in a factory under controlled specifications, LVL products allow users to reduce the onsite labor. They are typically used for headers, beams, rimboard, and edge-forming material. – Ref: Wikipedia

LVL Microllam Beam 225x300 What Is A Microllam?Microllam is a brand name for Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) Beams manufactured by Weyerhaeuser. LVL beams are one of several different types of engineered lumber products on the market today.

What Microllam’s (LVL’s) Look Like

The photo above shows a Microllam LVL header over a door in a basement. The header was built using three (3) 9-1/2 inch deep Microllams that were nailed together. The first clue that this is a LVL header is the appearance. Most LVL’s on the market have a smooth face that looks like plywood.

The adjacent photo shows the bottom side of the Microllam / LVL header beam. The second clue to idendifying the LVL is the long, straight layers of the beams. LVL beams always have straight, parallel layers which is very different than similar Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL) beams which have lots of shorter fibers that are compressed.

PSL Beam 300x164 What Is A Microllam?The last clue that you’re dealing with a Microllam / LVL beam is the width. LVL’s come in 1-3/4 inch wide beams always. Whereas PSL beams come in many width from 1-3/4 inch up to 9 inches wide (0r wider). The last photo shows a PSL beam, which shows the shorter strands/fibers.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the author of Tool Box Buzz and Today's Green Construction. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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