Why Cross-Laminated Timber Is Replacing Concrete and Steel
Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a strong and stable wood construction system used as an alternative to concrete and steel. Widely used in Europe, it’s gaining popularity in North America now. CLT competes with, and even outperforms, steel or concrete for many reasons.
Lumber from harvested tress grown in managed forests provides the foundation for CLT. Wood is the only structurally sound material that is renewable and grows naturally. Plus, research shows yearly net tree growth exceeds net tree harvesting by at least 1% in the United States.
CLT provides dimensional stability and strength performance that matches the weight-to-strength ratio of other commonly used structural materials. CLT continues to outperform all other products available in the US.
The total value of CLT is competitive with other building materials. However, there are additional added benefits, such as:
- Installation cost is about 50% less than other plate materials
- Installation is simpler, resulting in faster project completion
- CLT building structures weigh significantly less (up to 50%) than other construction types, allowing for more cost-effective foundations
- Workers only need a pneumatic drill to install CLT
- Pre-fabricated CLT panels increase job safety
Even though CLT is comprised of wood, it responds to fire more like concrete. It is difficult to light and tries to self extinguish. CLT is comparable to typical structural construction materials when tested for fire resistance and combustibility, as well.