Framer's Guide to Engineered Lumber

Engineered lumber does everything solid-sawn lumber does, except better. It's stronger, lighter, straighter, and more stable. But working with I-joists and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is different than solid-sawn lumber, so check out these tips for getting better, faster results.

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Source: TOOLS OF THE TRADE Magazine
Publication date: March 1, 2003

By Scott Woelful

Engineered lumber does everything solid-sawn lumber does, except better. It's stronger, lighter, straighter, and more stable. But working with I-joists and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is different than solid-sawn lumber, so check out these tips for getting better, faster results.

Beams and Rim Joists. When you hang joists off a built-up center-span LVL beam (or flush header), check the widths of the LVL components. I've seen these vary as much as 3/8 inch from one another, which is enough to throw a top-hung joist hanger out of line. When the hanger is off, it's difficult to set the joist properly. To compensate for this we assemble headers and beams and then power plane them flush to flatten the top edge, before installing hangers and joists.

OSB rim joists can vary in thickness. Moisture swells them quickly, which can affect your joist measurements and slow you down. The best strategy to avoid this is to schedule delivery of your rim joist material just in time to use it, and keep it as dry as possible until it's installed.

Storage. Manufacturers recommend storing I-joists on edge. If laid flat on uneven terrain, they can take on a wobble. Using layout marks on your floor sheathing helps you keep joists in line as you lay the sheathing.

Cutting. You don't have to, but we find it's easier to use guides for cutting I-joists.

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