Microllam / LVL Beams
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
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.
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.