Author: Jeff Zwolinski
After having spent over 25 years in the forest products manufacturing business, I have been fortunate to have observed many technological advances in the conversion of raw materials from the forest, such as Sawlogs, Chip-N-Saw and Pulpwood, into the various building products the consumer has utilized in both home and commercial construction, as well as office supplies such as ink and various grades of paper.
Over the decades, the forests of East Texas have supplied the market with many varieties of these building materials and paper products. Most of them are very familiar to the consumer. Examples include Dimension Lumber, Plywood, Particleboard, as well as Oriented Strand Board, Paper products, and Containerboard, which is eventually converted into boxes. In addition, during the past ten to fifteen years, these forests have been supplying the raw material, such as pulpwood, to newly constructed facilities which in turn provide “biofuels” to markets pursuing alternative sources of energy.
A relatively new innovation, Cross-Laminated Timber, (CLT), which has been manufactured and utilized in Europe and Canada, is becoming an important product in the domestic building products market as well. It falls into the category of what is known in the industry as an engineered wood product, and is primarily used for roofs, walls and floors. According to the American Plywood Association (APA), “A CLT panel consists of several layers [3 to 7] of kiln dried lumber boards stacked in alternating directions, bonded with structural adhesives, and pressed to form a solid, straight, rectangular panel”. Additionally, the APA states that…”CLT panels are exceptionally stiff, strong, and stable, handling load transfer on all sides”. This makes it an excellent product for both structural and non-structural applications.
Specifically, CLT is used in home and commercial building foundations, roofs and walls, and is an attractive alternative to masonry, concrete and steel, while complementing the use of traditional panel products, such as Medium Density Fiberboard found in flooring and cabinets. CLT is being evaluated as a component in the process of making new and existing structures earthquake proof. It has been praised for being easy to assemble and beneficial for the environment because of its carbon storage capability and thus reduced carbon footprint compared to concrete and steel.
So what does CLT mean for timberland owners in East Texas and for its forest products industry in general? There is a lot of interest from engineers, architects and builders in the use of CLT. Therefore, it has the potential to provide another viable market for landowners to supply their high-value renewable resources, such as Sawlogs, to lumber mills that in turn would have an opportunity to sell their products to prospective manufacturers of CLT!
(Photo Source: reTHINK WOOD)