If you like the look of solid wood beams, then you should consider using laminated veneer lumber (LVL). This engineered wood product provides the heft and look of wooden beam construction, but with less problems and more weight bearing capacity than beams the same size of traditional dynamic lumber.
When you think of a laminated veneer lumber beam, think of a sheet of plywood, but with the dimensions of a wooden beam. The process of manufacturing these beams is very similar to constructing sheets of plywood. Wood planks are ripped into thin sections, then glued together and pressed to form a solid bond between the sheets. Because there are a minimal number of knots, or other imperfections commonly found in wood, in an LVL beam; the overall strength of the beam is better and the possibility of a structural defect is eliminated. Even if there is a knot in one strip, the structural integrity of the other strips diminish the weakness resulting from the one knot. The layers of wood that make up an LVL beam, as in a sheet of plywood, provide greater strength and a lesser likelihood to warp or twist. From a construction standpoint, a laminated veneer lumber beam is superior to standard dimensional lumber
Using LVL beams is more importantly eco friendly than building with standard dimensional lumber. Smaller trees, grown with sustainable forestry techniques are used to manufacture a large LVL beam, which would require a large old growth tree to be filled in order to mill a standard beam of the same size. With a standard demographic beam of a given length, you need a tree large enough to mill the entire beam out of the tree. In a LVL beam, the planks can milled from shooter and thinner pieces of lumber. The lamination process allows a beam of almost any dimension or length to be manufactured. The glues used to manufacture Laminated Veneer Lumber are toxin free and do not give off any VOC fumes.
Laminated Veneer Lumber can be used anywhere that requires a large weight bearing capacity over a reasonable span.
One potential drawback to the use of laminated veneer lumber is that the product is designed for dry, interior applications; and not suitable for outdoor usage. But, with that in mind, there are still a wide variety of applications where a LVL beam is the best option for your construction needs