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Glulam vs LVL Wood: What’s the Difference?

By: {echo: get_the_author_nickname} | March 27, 2024 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Wood is one of the most versatile and widely used materials in construction, known for its strength, durability, and sustainability. 

When it comes to engineered wood products, Glulam (Glued Laminated Timber) and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) are two popular choices. Both offer unique advantages and applications in construction, but they differ in their composition, manufacturing process, and properties. 

In this article, we’ll look into the differences between Glulam beam vs LVL wood to help you understand which might be the better choice for your project.

How LVL Beam and Glulam is Constructed and Manufactured?

Glulam (Glued Laminated Timber) and (Laminated Veneer Lumber) LVL Beams are two types of engineered wood products known for their exceptional strength and versatility in construction applications. Glulam is composed of multiple layers of solid wood boards bonded together with high-strength glue, often of the same species but sometimes a mix of different species. 

The grain orientation in each layer varies to enhance structural integrity. In the manufacturing process, high-quality timber is selected, cut into uniform boards, and dried to the required moisture content. The gluing solution is then applied to the board surfaces, and the boards are stacked together in the desired orientation before undergoing hydraulic pressing to form a solid bond. 

LVL, on the other hand, is made from thin veneers of wood peeled from logs and arranged in parallel layers, with each layer having its grain oriented in the same direction. The veneers are bonded together with adhesive under high pressure. The manufacturing process for LVL involves log preparation, veneer peeling, drying, grading, gluing, layer assembly, hydraulic pressing, and final sizing and finishing. 

Both Glulam and LVL offer excellent structural performance and can be tailored to meet specific design requirements, making them popular choices for beams, columns, and other load-bearing elements in construction projects.

Difference Between LVL vs Glulam?

There are several major differences between Glulam and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) when it comes to structural applications:

CompositionMade of multiple layers of lumber glued together with their grains parallel to each otherMade of thin veneers of wood glued together with their grains parallel to each other
StrengthGenerally stronger than solid timber of the same dimensionsGenerally stronger than solid timber of the same dimensions
Span capabilityCan achieve long spans with minimal depthCan achieve long spans with minimal depth
FlexibilityMore flexible and can be curved to a certain extentLess flexible, limited to straight shapes
AppearanceTypically visible laminations, have a distinct appearanceSmooth surface, less visible laminations
CostTypically more expensive due to the manufacturing processGenerally more cost-effective than Glulam
AvailabilityWidely available in various sizes and shapesGenerally readily available in standard sizes and lengths
InstallationMay require specialized installation due to weight and sizeGenerally easier to handle and install
Environmental ImpactGenerally considered environmentally friendly due to efficient use of woodConsidered environmentally friendly due to efficient use of wood and less waste during manufacturing

Tip:  When considering engineered wood products like Glulam and LVL for your construction projects, partnering with a reliable supplier is essential. Ranger Truss of Texas stands out as a trusted provider of high-quality engineered wood products, including Glulam and LVL, catering to the unique needs of clients across Texas. With years of experience in the industry, Ranger Truss of Texas understands the nuances of construction projects, offering expert guidance and support throughout the process. The most important thing to us is customer satisfaction. Our goal is to exceed your expectations by providing superior products and a personal touch.

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Strength and Load-Bearing Capacities

Glulam (Glued Laminated Timber) and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) are both engineered wood products renowned for their exceptional strength and load-bearing capacities. However, they exhibit some differences in this aspect.


  1. Glulam beams exhibit impressive strength and stiffness, making them highly resistant to bending, shear, and compression forces.
  1. Due to their composition of several layers of dimensioned lumber bonded together, glulam beams can bear heavy loads over long spans with minimal deflection.
  1. Glulam is often chosen for applications requiring substantial structural support, such as in large-scale projects like arenas, warehouses, and heavy timber construction.


  1. LVL boasts consistent strength properties across its length and width, offering reliable support for various structural applications.
  1. Engineered with thin veneers of wood bonded together under high pressure and heat, LVL panels exhibit excellent strength in bending and tension.
  1. LVL’s load-bearing capacities make it a preferred choice for structural components in residential and commercial buildings, including floor and roof systems, beams, and headers.

Overall, both Glulam and LVL provide substantial strength and load-bearing capacities. The strength and stability of glulam beams make them ideal for long-span structures, while LVL panels are ideal for structural applications in buildings.

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Applications and Uses of LVL and Glulam Beam

Understanding their unique features can help in determining the most suitable choice for various applications.

1. Glulam Wood:

  • Construction: Glulam beams and columns are strong and stable, making them ideal for building structures like houses, offices, and industrial buildings.
  • Architecture: Glulam’s versatility allows for creative architectural features like curved beams and exposed timber elements, enhancing the visual appeal of buildings.
  • Bridges: Glulam’s strength makes it suitable for constructing bridges, especially for pedestrians.
  • Sports Facilities: It’s commonly used in sports stadiums and gymnasiums for its ability to span long distances without extra support.

2. LVL Wood:

  • Framing: LVL is great for framing in buildings, providing sturdy support for floors, roofs, and walls.
  • Doors and Windows: Its stability makes LVL perfect for door and window frames, ensuring they stay straight and durable.
  • Furniture: LVL panels are used in making furniture pieces like tables, shelves, and bed frames due to their strength and lightness.
  • Industrial Use: LVL is also handy in industrial applications such as pallets and packaging because of its strength and consistent quality.

Both materials have their strengths and are used in various applications depending on factors like strength requirements, aesthetics, and cost. Consulting with experts can help in choosing the right material for specific projects.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Glulam vs LVL

What Your Project Needs:

  • Size and Complexity: Think about how big and complicated your project is. If it’s large and needs to hold a lot of weight, Glulam might be better. But if it’s smaller and lighter, LVL could work fine.
  • Where You’re Building: Consider the weather where you’re building. Glulam is stronger and can handle moisture better, so it might be better for places with lots of rain or earthquakes.
  • Rules and Regulations: Make sure to follow the rules about what materials you can use in your area. Some places might have specific rules about Glulam or LVL.

Money Matters:

  • Costs: Compare how much Glulam and LVL cost. Glulam might be more expensive at first, but it could save you money in the long run because it lasts longer.
  • Thinking Ahead: Look at how much it’ll cost to take care of each material over time. Sometimes spending more upfront saves you money later on.

Getting Your Materials:

  • Finding Wood: Figure out where you can get Glulam and LVL near you. Also, see how long it takes to get them. You don’t want to wait too long for your materials.
  • Sticking to the Schedule: Think about when you need the wood for your project. Make sure you can get it in time, so your project stays on track.

By thinking about these things and talking to people who know about construction, you can pick the best wood for your project.

Glulam and LVL wood are crucial materials in contemporary construction due to their remarkable strength, durability, and versatility. When comparing glulam vs LVL strength, both materials offer impressive structural integrity, yet their specific applications vary based on their unique characteristics.

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