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Nisbet Brower’s Guide to Engineered Beams: Cincinnati’s Building Backbone!

Engineered beams are the robust backbone of any contemporary building, providing tremendous strength and incredible stability. These marvels of engineering technology have become indispensable in construction today.

As a leading supplier of Cincinnati’s building materials for over 15 decades, Nisbet Brower has an unparalleled understanding and expertise in engineered beams. To us, building materials are more than just commodities — they are invaluable building blocks of our city.

In this guide, we delve deeper into the world of engineered beams and explore their composition, pros and cons, and practical applications in Cincinnati.

What Is an Engineered Beam?

Generally considered as the best building materials due to their many advantages, including cost-efficiency and sustainability.

Engineered wood products — especially engineered beams — have revolutionized the construction industry. Not only have they become an essential component in a myriad of projects, but they are also generally considered as the best building materials due to their many advantages, including cost-efficiency and sustainability.

Definition and Basics

Engineered beams are composite materials made from wood fibers, adhesives, and other materials. These beams are designed to be stronger and more durable than traditional lumber. As such, they play a critical role in supporting structures and distributing loads.

Engineered beams come in various forms, including parallel strand lumber (PSL) beams, cross laminated timber (CLT), and glued laminated timber (GLT) or glued laminated lumber (glulam).

Among the many different kinds of engineered beams, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beams are the most utilized for construction applications. Engineered LVL beams are often used as high-strength, load-carrying beams, allowing for better load distribution especially over windows and entryways.

The Evolution of Engineered Beams

Since its inception, the engineered beams industry has seen exponential growth, with new materials and manufacturing techniques improving their strength and durability.

The first wood I-beam was invented by Trus Joist Corporation in 1969, which led to a significant development in the industry, as it allowed for longer spans and greater load-bearing capacity than traditional lumber. In the 1970s, contemporary designs of wood I-joists evolved by homeowners who wanted open floor plans.

Overall, the evolution of engineered wood beams has been driven by cost, performance, and the need to make better use of forest resources.

Nisbet Brower is committed to staying at the forefront of this evolution. Our commitment to innovation and quality products has led to Nisbet Brower being a trusted partner of any architect, builder, or construction firm looking for engineered beams in Cincinnati.

Through our partnerships with the most trusted names in engineered wood product manufacturing, like TrusJoist by Weyerhaeuser, we are able to provide clients with the latest and most effective engineered wood products.

Strength Comparison: LVL Beams vs Lumber

LVL beams are a prime example of the advancements in engineered beam technology. One of their most notable advantages is its superior strength.

The Superiority of LVL Beams

LVL beams stand out as a highly durable wood construction material, boasting exceptional strength relative to the material’s density. Composed of multiple layers of thin wood bonded together, LVL beams exhibit a strength-to-weight ratio that far exceeds that of traditional lumber, resulting in a wooden beam that is more dimensionally stable.

In general, LVL beams outperform traditional lumber in various aspects, including:

  • Strength: LVL beams have a higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to solid lumber, allowing for longer spans and greater load-bearing capacity.

  • Durability: They are less susceptible to twisting and cracking, ensuring long-term structural integrity.

  • Consistency: LVL beams are manufactured to precise specifications, offering uniform quality throughout the entire beam length.

  • Span: The manufacturing method of LVL allows for bigger spans or sizes, since it’s not constrained by the size of logs used.

  • Low cost: LVL beams are much more cost-effective than solid lumber, since they require less material to produce.

  • Humidity-resistant: LVL beams are more resistant to changes in humidity, making them less prone to shrinking and swelling.

Practical Applications in Cincinnati

The use of LVL beams has revolutionized construction practices all over the U.S., including in Ohio, leading to safer, more durable, and more cost-effective structures. Here in Cincinnati, LVL beams have found wide-ranging applications in various construction projects owing to their superior characteristics.

  • Residential Construction: LVL beams are extensively used in residential construction, particularly for supporting heavy roofs, floors, and load-bearing walls, ensuring the longevity and stability of homes in the Cincinnati area.

  • Commercial Projects: Commercial structures such as warehouses, shopping centers, and office buildings also benefit from engineered LVL beams’ enhanced load-bearing capacity and ability to span long distances.

  • Infrastructure: LVL beams are instrumental in the city’s infrastructure renovation and restoration projects employ LVL beams to reinforce aging structures, ensuring their longevity.

Disadvantages of LVL Beams

While the merits of LVL beams are numerous and impressive, it’s only fair to acknowledge that — like any other product — they come with their own set of challenges. However, rather than being outright deterrents, these serve more as potential limitations to using LVL and other engineered beams.

Potential Limitations

LVL beams may not be the ideal choice for every project due to the following potential limitations:

  • Cost: LVL beams can be more expensive upfront compared to traditional lumber, which may impact the project budget, especially for DIY renovators who may not buy in bulk.

  • Fire Resistance: Individual LVL beams do not have as strong fire resistance as solid wood beams or members.

  • Limited Aesthetic Appearance: For projects where a natural wood look is desired, solid lumber beams would still be preferred.

  • Warping: Despite its high dimensional stability compared to solid wood, LVL beams may still suffer from warping and similar issues, especially if they’re improperly stored.

Nisbet Brower’s Solutions

At Nisbet Brower, we understand that each project is unique, and we’re committed to helping our clients make informed decisions. To address the potential limitations of LVL beams, we offer:

  • Cost-Effective Solutions: Our team can help figure out cost-effective alternatives and other solutions for projects where budget constraints are a concern, allowing you to continue using LVL beams without going over budget.

  • Fire-Retardant Treatments: We offer LVL beams that already underwent fire-retardant treatments, making them suitable for a wider range of applications.

  • Aesthetic Choices: We provide a wide selection of engineered beams with various veneer finishes, ensuring that you can achieve the desired aesthetic for your project.

  • Proper Storage: Nisbet Brower ensures proper storage of all building materials we provide to prevent warping issues.

Final Thoughts

Engineered beams — particularly LVL beams — are the backbone of modern construction in Cincinnati. Their strength, durability, and versatility make them essential components in a wide range of projects. With proper measures, it is wholly possible to avoid or reduce the potential limitations of LVL and engineered wood beams.

If you’re planning your next construction project, don’t hesitate to reach out to Nisbet Brower. Whether you need advice on choosing the right engineered beams, or you’re seeking quality building materials tailored to your specific needs, our team is here to support your vision.

When it comes to building in Cincinnati, Nisbet Brower has your back — and your beams! Contact us today.


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