Types of timber beams

Written by steve smith
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Types of timber beams
Timber beams vary in type and appearance. (outdoor stairways image by Sherri Camp from Fotolia.com)

Timber beams are used to construct homes and support roofs and ceilings. Exposed beams, rustic and natural in character, are sought by many homeowners for use in residential construction. It is helpful to learn the differences and similarities of the different types of timber beams used today.

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Plybox Beams

A plybox timber beam is not really a solid beam, though it is considered a timber beam. It is made from a framework of 2-by-4 or 2-by-6 boards much like an interior wall. The long frame is then covered on each side with plywood. Though the inside is hollow, the beam looks like solid wood. Used in timber frame homes just like solid beams, they have advantages over the solid beam. They are lightweight, and can be manufactured on-site in some cases. They are also used as wall frames.

Veneer Beams

A veneer beam is a solid timber beam, but not made from a single log. Constructed of several layers (or veneers) of wood, they are used both in short- and long-span applications. Each layer is glued and pressed together to form the beam. The advantage is the ability to create any sized beam for nearly any type of wood. A long, straight log is not necessary to form a single solid beam.

Laminated Wood Beams

A laminated wood beam is similar to a veneer beam, but consists of thicker, stacked boards that are pressed and glued together. The boards are stacked with the wider side horizontally oriented like a deck of cards. These boards are also used in all spans and may be crafted to nearly any length for any type of timber.

Solid Timber Beams

The solid timber beam is made from a single log. It is usually cut in a lumber mill. Many timber beams are made from one single tree. Depending on the size of the log and the beam, up to five or more beams may be cut from a single tree. Considered a more traditional timber beam, these are not engineered and do not make use of presses, glues or veneers.

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