Solid as steel. Sturdy as concrete. Cross-laminated timber carries these claims and hopes for boosting Oregon’s wood products industry. The engineered wood product is made by gluing together layers of boards, such as 2-by-4s, 2-by-6s and 2-by-8s. The resulting panels can be used in place of steel or concrete in the construction of buildings.
Advocates of the engineered wood say it has the potential to become a major product in commercial construction. But advocates acknowledge that a couple of things would have to happen first. Building codes in the United States will have to be revised to allow the use of panels in large buildings, and architects, developers and builders will have to demand the material for their projects.
Cross-laminated timber has been made for years in Europe, and it’s catching on in Canada. However, D.R. Johnson Lumber Company in Riddle, south of Roseburg, is the only Oregon firm making the wood panels. And it’s the only company certified in the United States to manufacture the panels for use in building construction.
D.R. Johnson President Valerie Johnson said cross-laminated timber could expand the market for wood products in the Northwest. An under construction building for the College of Education at Western Oregon University in Monmouth is the first structure to use the company’s panels.
“We have interest coming from virtually every state in the West and Southwest,” Johnson said. “The breakthrough … is building larger and taller structures with wood by using very strong, very durable, large mass timber components.”