CLT offers a more sustainable construction solution with few downsides.
In an era where sustainability and efficiency are becoming paramount in construction, a remarkable innovation has emerged: Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). With its versatility, strength, and eco-friendliness, CLT has taken root in the construction world, revolutionizing the way we build and shaping the future of architecture.
With the right natural wood product partner, you can leverage the advantages of cross-laminated into your next residential or commercial project. Today we’ll define what CLT is, its inherent strengths, and how it’s being used today as a replacement for steel and concrete in building construction.
High-Quality Wood, Direct from the Forest: Connect with our team at Northern Log to learn how we source and deliver beautiful natural wood products.
What is Cross-Laminated Lumber?
Imagine taking layers of wood and stacking them in a way that capitalizes on their individual strengths. That's the essence of CLT—a construction material that involves bonding multiple layers (typically three, five, seven, or nine) of lumber together with adhesive, with each layer's grain direction perpendicular to the layer above and below. This crisscross pattern enhances the material's strength, akin to interlocking fingers, creating a structure that's remarkably robust and resilient. By gluing layers of wood at right angles, the panel delivers excellent structural rigidity in both directions. In special cases, double outer laminations may be parallel and not alternating crosswise.
Strength Within: The Advantages of Cross-Laminated Timber
The reason for CLT’s recent rise in popularity can largely be attributed to its status as a sustainable and more eco-friendly alternative to conventional construction materials, such as the aforementioned concrete and steel.
Cross-laminated timber is a sustainable material because it’s primarily composed of wood, a renewable resource, and doesn’t require the burning of fossil fuels during its production. The manufacturing process for cement and concrete, and the production of iron and steel, are estimated to account for roughly 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Shifting away from such materials is good for the long-term health of the planet.
Additionally, wood acts as a carbon sink, meaning it stores carbon dioxide rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. By choosing CLT, you contribute to carbon reduction efforts and promote sustainable building practices. However, cross-laminated timber offers this benefit without sacrificing characteristics in other areas.
Strength & Durability
CLT’s composition gives it a strength comparable to concrete. It can withstand heavy loads and structural stresses and recent research suggests it could be a cost-effective alternative to concrete for building over six stories high — despite being five times lighter. Its durability is on par with other construction materials and it’s been used for infrastructure and support in large construction sites, as forms for bridges, and even as the base for heavy equipment on unstable terrain. There are even skyscrapers currently using CLT components.
CLT's adaptability allows architects and designers to explore innovative and imaginative designs. Its strength-to-weight ratio means you can create expansive open spaces without compromising on structural integrity. Curved shapes, cantilevered structures, and unique forms become feasible, pushing the boundaries of architectural creativity.
Traditional construction methods often involve time-consuming processes, from on-site cutting to curing materials. CLT, on the other hand, arrives pre-fabricated, like building blocks ready to be assembled. This accelerates construction timelines and reduces labor costs. Its lighter weight offers lower foundation costs, easier transportation to the site, and rapid prefabricated assembly. Compared to concrete, CLT structures can be prefabricated off-site and installed in a shorter time, in any season all year round.
Because CLT is made from wood, it also provides many of the benefits associated with log cabins and homes — such as excellent sound insulation and energy efficiency. CLT, despite being made from wood, ranks highly for its ability to maintain structural support should a fire occur. It is classified as REI 90, indicating that it can retain the necessary load-bearing capacity and meet integrity requirements for 90 minutes during a fire — a better standard than unprotected steel, which loses its load-bearing capacity after it is exposed to a fire for only 15 minutes.
Build a More Sustainable Future with CLT, and Northern Log
Cross-laminated timber offers a forward-thinking union of innovation, sustainability, and practicality. Its inherent strengths, coupled with its environmental benefits, make it a key part of the construction industry's evolution. As the demand for greener, more efficient, and aesthetically stunning buildings rises, CLT stands at the forefront of the movement; it’s already being used in a plethora of projects, including those that stack up favorably in terms of appearance.
Northern Log has long been a believer in the beauty and functionality of wood when building homes, cabins, and commercial properties — from log siding and paneling to trusses and trim. We’re leading the way in developing new cross-laminated timber capabilities from our family-owned lumber mill headquarters in Mayville, Mich.
With Northern Log you can further customize your CLT products, from pre–finishing and pre-staining services to further streamline your construction process to the ability to further tailor cross-laminated timber with your preferred style of hewn and cutting marks.