Lumber Facts

Advancing Lumber Construction With Engineered Wood Products


The use of lumber and wood products in construction is on the rise as homebuilders and homebuyers see the environmental and economical benefits of building with a renewable resource. APA - The Engineered Wood Association is forecasting an increase in demand for North American engineered wood products (EWP), including structural panels, starting this year through 2019 due to a projected 12 percent increase in housing starts in the U.S. Structural panel sales are expected to grow by 19 percent and other EWP will grow between 20 and 25 percent.

The recent boom in Hawaii's construction sector means a boom for lumber and wood products sales as well. According to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's third quarter report, the value of commercial and industrial building permits issued in the first half of 2015 shot up by more than 183 percent over the same time period last year. Residential permitting also made a huge jump with an increase of over 96 percent.

"EWP has the real potential to significantly grow the lumber and wood products industry because it allows for increased structural integrity and durability," said Erin McClanahan, Hawaii Lumber Products Association (HLPA) president and Sause Bros. Hawaii marketing manager. "EWP's prefabrication and light weight, in relation to load-bearing capacity, helps to manage construction costs."

Some types of EWP include cross-laminated timber (CLT), glulam (glued laminated timber) and structural composite lumber (SCL), which all involve different processes of layering wood. CLT consists of layers of lumber melded together at right angles for more durable roofs, floors and walls. Glulams are created by combining layers of timber for increased strength as structural columns and beams.

SCL is a group of EWP, which includes laminated veneer lumber (LVL), parallel strand lumber (PSL), laminated strand lumber (LSL) and oriented strand lumber (OSL). SCL is constructed by layering dried and graded wood veneers, strands or flakes with moisture-resistant adhesive to form blocks that can be sawn into consistent sizes, and it's almost entirely free from warping and splitting.

EWP is even getting attention from the federal government. The Department of Agriculture hopes to open up a new market for constructing wood buildings 10 stories or taller and teamed up with the Softwood Lumber Board and Binational Softwood Lumber Council to sponsor the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. Two winners will receive $1.5 million each to fund their construction project, a 10-story condo building in New York City and a 12-story mixed-use building in Portland, Ore.

The department's Forest Products Laboratory began working with Iowa State University earlier this year "to investigate the state-of-the-practice related to the use of concrete decks supported by glued-laminated (glulam) timber girders for highway bridge applications." Over 61,000 bridges across the country are structurally deficient, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, and the use of EWP may be a durable, cost-effective solution.

"EWP offers new opportunities for the use of wood in all kinds of construction projects," McClanahan said. "It's exciting to see these new advancements for a natural product that has been a building mainstay for centuries."

The Hawaii Lumber Products Association is comprised of professionals representing the development and construction industry as well as building material producers and service companies. They are committed to the education and promotion of lumber products as the best choice for home construction in Hawaii. To find out more about using wood in home construction and HLPA, please visit HawaiiLumber.com or Facebook.com/HawaiiLumber.