What exactly is cross laminated timber?

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a new generation of engineered wood which has been gaining popularity in the US thanks to building code updates and fire rated testing performances. CLT is defined as a new class of timber products known as massive or “mass” timber. CLT panels consist of several layers of lumber boards stacked crosswise (typically at 90 degrees) and glued together. A cross section of a CLT panel has at least three glued layers of boards placed in orthogonally alternating orientation to neighboring layers (see below). Prefabricated wall and floor panels provide an alternative to concrete, steel, and other wood framing methods. CLT is similar to plywood but with distinctively thicker lamination.


Who should utilize cross laminated timber (CLT)?

With recent changes to building codes, A/E firms are some of the first to adopt cross-laminated timber as a viable building material. This light-weight material can be manufactured quickly and is just as substantial as concrete or steel options. With that in mind, it makes sense to use CLT in large-scale projects such as hotels or high-rises.


When did CLT become relevant?

CLT is an innovative wood product that was introduced in the early 1990s in Austria and Germany and you will still find several manufacturers of CLT there today. Over the last few years, hundreds of impressive buildings have been built around the world using mass timber products. Now well established in Europe, the driving force behind the development of CLT in North America is the need to provide alternative wood-based products and systems to architects, engineers, and contractors.

Why is CLT a viable option?

CLT used for prefabricated wall and floor panels offers many advantages. The cross-laminating process provides improved dimensional stability to the product which allows for long, wide floor slabs and high, single-story wall panels. Contrary to what you might think, CLT has an incredible fire rating since mass timber does not catch fire easily. Because CLT is manufactured before being brought to the jobsite, measurements tend to be more accurately correlated to design. Construction time is also faster since CLT is manufactured and installed as panels. Sustainability is another positive reason to seek out CLT. Wood is a renewable source and most of the lumber is harvested from sustainably managed forests or trees that would die prematurely. CLT is cost competitive to other building material due to savings in reduced installation time and earlier completion dates. Since structures using CLT will weigh less than other construction types, cost savings can be found in foundation expenses as well.

Luckett & Farley is excited to be on the cutting edge of design excellence. Our client, Lendlease, encouraged a green design for the Ft. Drum CandlewoodSuites project and are continuing to pursue other projects incorporating CLT. 


Are you an architectural, engineering or interior design All-Star?

Join Us