What size LVL to span 30 feet (with Calculator)

Nathan Clark | 🗓️Modified: February 25, 2024 | ⏳Time to read:7 min

When it comes to construction projects requiring long spans, selecting the appropriate support beams is paramount. Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is a popular choice known for its strength and stability.

In this guide, we will delve into the factors influencing the selection of LVL beam size for a 30-foot span, while also providing an in-depth understanding of LVL and its advantages.

Understanding Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL):

Laminated Veneer Lumber, or LVL, is a form of structural composite lumber. It is constructed from thin wood sheets that are bonded together using exceptionally robust adhesive. LVL is the product of recent innovation, driven by the need to make use of new wood species and smaller trees that cannot be efficiently used for solid lumber.

LVL beams are esteemed for their remarkable strength and their ability to resist warping and shrinking, making them an excellent choice for various construction applications.

When it comes to spanning significant distances in your construction project, selecting the right type of beam is paramount. Let’s explore the options available for different span lengths and delve into their unique characteristics and considerations.

Determining the Ideal Beam for a 30-foot Span

For a 30-foot span, various beam types offer distinct advantages and considerations. Here’s a breakdown of the most common choices:

Timber Beams: Embracing Natural Appeal

Timber beams, also dubbed wood beams, exude a timeless allure with their natural aesthetic. Widely available and cost-effective, timber beams are favored for their rustic charm and versatility.

While suitable for smaller spans, timber beams may pose limitations in terms of strength and durability, rendering them less ideal for larger or intricate structures.

Exploring Steel Beams: The Epitome of Strength

Steel beams stand as stalwarts of structural integrity, boasting unparalleled strength and durability. Capable of spanning longer distances than timber counterparts, steel beams offer exceptional load-bearing capacity and fire resistance.

Despite their robust qualities, steel beams come at a premium compared to timber options and may entail more intricate installation processes due to their weight.

Engineered Wood Beams: Innovations in Structural Excellence

Engineered wood beams, including Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and Glue-Laminated Timber (Glulam), epitomize the marriage of sustainability and strength. Crafted by binding wood fibers or veneers with adhesive, these beams offer superior durability and customizability.

Beyond their structural prowess, engineered wood beams are hailed for their eco-friendliness, utilizing fewer resources than traditional timber beams.

Selecting the Optimal I Beam for a 40-foot Span

When spanning a 40-foot distance, the choice of I beam becomes crucial. Steel beams reign supreme in this domain, offering unmatched load-bearing capacity and durability.

Key Considerations for a 30-Foot Span:

The size of LVL beams required for a 30-foot span is contingent on several factors, including the anticipated load and compliance with local building codes. As a general guideline, for a 30-foot span, it is typically recommended to use LVL beams with dimensions of 5-1/4″ × 13 1/2″ or 5-1/4″ × 16″. These beams are often custom-manufactured to precisely meet the specific requirements of your project.

To cover a 30-foot span, one can utilize either a multiple-ply 2×12 or opt for engineered wooden beams like LVL. The dimensions of the beam will vary based on load considerations and the chosen material. Seeking guidance from a structural engineer is imperative to ascertain the precise size and specifications required to ensure safety and adherence to regulations.

The Advantages of LVL Beams:

LVL beams hold several advantages over conventional milled lumber. These advantages include:

  1. Dimensional Stability: LVL beams are celebrated for their dimensional stability, significantly reducing the risk of warping and twisting. This stability is especially valuable when aiming to create noise-free floors.
  2. Reduced Inspection Times: Owing to their reliable performance, LVL beams can lead to reduced inspection times during the construction process.
  3. High Strength: LVL beams possess a “maximum allowable bending stress” of 2,800 or 3,000 psi, rendering them suitable for supporting heavy loads.

Sizes and Customization Options for LVL Beams:

LVL beams are available in various sizes, with standard thicknesses ranging from 1 3/4 inches to 3 1/2 inches. Moreover, these beams can be customized to meet the precise requirements of your project. Length options typically include 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, and 44 feet, with special orders possible for lengths of up to 60 feet. Nevertheless, it is crucial to take into account transportation and handling considerations when ordering lengths that exceed 60 feet.

Beam Width and Depth:

When designing an LVL beam, you should consider the following guidelines:

  • Beam Width: LVL beams generally have a standard width of 1 3/4 inches, which can be expanded by laminating in multiples of 1 3/4 inches or 40mm. A common rule of thumb is to ensure that the beam width is 1/4 to 1/3 of the beam’s depth.
  • Beam Depth: The depth of LVL beams should be determined based on the span. A general rule of thumb suggests dividing the span by 20. Common beam depths can range from 5 1/2 inches to 20 inches, depending on the anticipated load and span.

Example Calculation for 30 foot Span LVL Beam

Step 1: Determine Load Factors

Before selecting an LVL beam, it’s crucial to understand the load factors the beam will need to support. This includes dead loads (permanent fixtures like the structure itself) and live loads (temporary loads like furniture or people).

Let’s assume:

  • Dead Load: 10 pounds per square foot (psf)
  • Live Load: 40 pounds per square foot (psf)

Step 2: Calculate Total Load

The total load the beam must support is the sum of the dead load and live load. In this example: Total Load = Dead Load + Live Load Total Load = 10 psf + 40 psf Total Load = 50 psf

Step 3: Determine Beam Spacing and Overhang

Beam spacing refers to the distance between each beam, while overhang refers to any protruding ends of the beam. These factors affect the load distribution and beam selection.

Let’s assume:

  • Beam Spacing: 16 inches on center (standard for residential construction)
  • Overhang: None

Step 4: Consult Load Tables or Structural Design Software

LVL beam manufacturers provide load tables or structural design software to help determine the appropriate beam size based on span length, load factors, and other variables. These resources ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards.

For our 30-foot span with a total load of 50 psf, we consult the load table or software provided by the LVL manufacturer.

Step 5: Select Beam Size

Based on the load table or software, we find that for a 30-foot span and a total load of 50 psf, a 3-ply 2×12 LVL beam with a specific grade and thickness is recommended.

Step 6: Verify with a Structural Engineer

While load tables and design software provide valuable guidance, it’s essential to verify the selected beam size with a structural engineer. The engineer will assess the specific requirements of your project, including factors like building codes, local regulations, and structural complexity, to ensure the chosen beam meets safety standards.

In Conclusion:

Selecting the right LVL beam size for a 30-foot span is contingent upon several crucial factors, including the expected load, adherence to local building codes, and the specific demands of your project. Typically, for a 30-foot span, it is advisable to opt for LVL beams with dimensions of 5-1/4″ × 13 1/2″ or 5-1/4″ × 16″. LVL beams offer a blend of stability, strength, and reduced maintenance, rendering them a popular choice for diverse construction projects. In cases of uncertainty, it is highly recommended to seek the guidance of a seasoned timber framing expert to ensure the structural integrity of your project.

About Nathan Clark

Nathan Clark is a seasoned professional framing expert boasting an extensive career spanning over two decades. With over 20 years of hands-on experience in the field, Nathan has established himself as a trusted authority in the realm of framing and carpentry. His unwavering commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail have earned him widespread acclaim among clients and peers alike. Besides work, he loves exploring places, traveling, and fishing.

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