UK government CLT ban over 18m might open doors for alternative glulam systems

12 December 2018

Glulam post and beam construction may be a way for the timber construction sector to still have an option above six storeys following the government’s proposed ban on cross-laminated timber (CLT) above 18m.

The UK Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) believes that the government’s decision on structural timber wall construction over 18m – as part of its post-Grenfell fire safety and building design consultation – does not have to be of detriment to the structural timber market.

“The vast majority of CLT projects delivered in the UK to date are six-storeys and under – which will not be impacted upon by these restrictions,” TRADA said.

“Important markets currently utilising the material, such as schools, will therefore remain unaffected.”

TRADA said it did mean a necessity for creativity in order to continue making the best use of timber as a structural material.

“We must, as an industry, determine methods by which we can build above six-storeys using structural timber – but not on the outer walls. Glulam post and beam is already one potential solution to this challenge.”

TRADA underlined that structural timber construction was here to stay and actually increase in popularity, as CLT attracts architects, contractors, clients and more for a multitude of distinct reasons.

“Some are aesthetic, others include cost reduction and programme savings – and, for those concerned about climate change, CLT sequesters carbon and stores it for the life of the building.”

TRADA believes the government consultation was ambiguously worded, particularly in regards to whether the consultation questions related to cladding only or to the entire wall assembly.

“Due to this, we found it very difficult to know how to answer many of the questions – and we believe this ambiguity will have caused difficulty for others too.”