This isn’t the year any of us expected. Covid-19 threw everyone for a loop, forcing us to adapt and search for new ways to work. While essential services such as construction have continued to operate, how we build has evolved.
With all the changing protocols, the current realities of the industry demand a new normal. A new increasingly popular building material can help to achieve this: cross-laminated timber (CLT).
Originally developed in the early 1990s in Austria, CLT is an innovative wood product that serves as a solid alternative to concrete, masonry, and steel. It’s considered a heavy-mass system, so it’s mainly seen in mid-rise and high-rise builds, but has crept its way into the residential world in the green-home market.
Cross-laminated timber is a prefabricated building material that streamlines the framing process dramatically. The panels are custom-built to meet the building’s specifications and then crane-guided into the correct spot on-site. North American CLT panels are usually three, five, seven, or nine layers of 2×6 lumber.
In many ways, the benefits of offsite production and prefabrication are being compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic. These processes naturally supplement heightened safety protocols, control quality and create schedule certainty in increasingly uncertain times.
Besides the environmental benefits of CLT, most of its appeal stems from the time saved during the framing process. The panels are prefabricated and delivered to the job site already cut to size and ready for installation.
Given enough upfront planning, it’s a great system that creates a high-quality result. On-the-spot adjustments are not an option with this material, so a perfect layout and plan are necessary. With that said, the time saved working with CLT is impressive.
While we’re still a long way from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, with new ways to work in the world of construction, the industry can come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever before.