# Allowable uniform loads - W beams vs. LVL

• yahastu
In summary, the maximum allowable uniform load for a W10 x 30 steel beam with a 14 foot span is 37,000 lbs, while a 1 3/4" x 11 1/4" 2.0E LVL beam with the same span has a maximum Total load (L/240) of 4,326 lbs. The "BEARING" value of 1.6/4.1 means that the beam must be supported at the ends for 1.6 inch and in the middle for 4.1 inch. When selecting a beam for a floor, it is important to check both the live load and total load, making sure the selected beam can handle both. However
yahastu
I'm trying to make a comparison between the maximum allowable uniform load of a beam made of steel vs LVL.

Here is a table of allowable uniform loads for steel W beams:

Here is a table of allowable uniform loads for LVL beams:
https://www.westfraser.com/sites/default/files/products/LVL/LVL%20Users%20Guide%20-%20US%20%20v0415.pdf

In the case of W beams, there is just 1 number for allowable load based on the span. In the case of LVLs, there is 'LL (L/360)', 'TL(L/240)', and 'BEARING.'

"To size a beam for use in a floor, it is necessary to check both live load and total load. Make sure the selected beam will work in both rows. When no live load is shown, total load will control. Spans shown are measured center-to-center of bearing."

Based on this, my understanding is that the TL(L/240) values are most comparable to the allowable load limits for the W beams.

In other words, if I'm reading this right:
A W10 x 30 beam with a 14 foot span has a maximum allowable load of 37,000 lbs, while a 1 3/4" x 11 1/4" 2.0E LVL with a 14 foot span would have a maximum Total load (L/240) of 309 lbs/LF * 14 ft = 4,326 lbs.

Please correct me if I am misunderstanding that :) Also, can anyone tell me what the "BEARING" value of 1.6/4.1 means in this case?

Last edited:
The allowable load of a beam is the result of several calculations:
1) Maximum bending stress
2) Maximum shear stress
3) Web crippling
4) Lateral buckling
5) Flange buckling
6) Allowable deflection

Every one of the above is a full chapter in a book on the subject. So, while your bold face text is probably (I did not look at your links) correct, it is not complete.

Simplified tables of allowable beam loads are useable for situations where construction details are well established, such as residential house floors. Most situations require more complete calculations.

yahastu said:
In other words, if I'm reading this right:
A W10 x 30 beam with a 14 foot span has a maximum allowable load of 37,000 lbs, while a 1 3/4" x 11 1/4" 2.0E LVL with a 14 foot span would have a maximum Total load (L/240) of 309 lbs/LF * 14 ft = 4,326 lbs.

Please correct me if I am misunderstanding that :) Also, can anyone tell me what the "BEARING" value of 1.6/4.1 means in this case?
(disclaimer,: I'm used to european building codes, so some of this stuff is new)
You should check both the total load and the live load. The live load limit is lower, because the maximal allowable deflection is lower. In general deflections are bigger with wood or lvl and this is more often the limit, where with steel the limit will tend to be the maximum bending stress or shear stress.
The bearing value of 1.6/4.1 means that you have to support the beam at the ends for 1.6 inch and in the middle for 4.1 inch. (If you use one beam for multiple spans)

## 1. What is the difference between W beams and LVL in terms of allowable uniform loads?

W beams, also known as wide flange beams, are structural steel beams that have a wide flange and parallel flanges on either side. LVL, or laminated veneer lumber, is a type of engineered wood product made from thin layers of wood veneers bonded together with adhesives. In terms of allowable uniform loads, W beams typically have a higher load carrying capacity than LVL due to their steel construction and ability to handle heavier loads.

## 2. How are allowable uniform loads determined for W beams and LVL?

The allowable uniform load for W beams is determined by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) based on the beam's shape, size, and material properties. LVL's allowable uniform load is determined by the manufacturer based on the product's design and structural properties. Both W beams and LVL must meet certain safety and structural standards to ensure their load carrying capacity.

## 3. Are there any advantages to using LVL over W beams for allowable uniform loads?

While W beams generally have a higher load carrying capacity, LVL does have some advantages in certain situations. LVL is lighter and easier to handle than steel beams, making it a popular choice for residential construction. LVL also has a more consistent strength and stiffness compared to natural wood beams, making it a reliable option for structural applications.

## 4. How do the allowable uniform loads for W beams and LVL compare to other types of beams?

The allowable uniform loads for W beams and LVL are generally higher than other types of beams, such as timber beams or concrete beams. This is due to the strength and durability of steel and engineered wood materials. However, the specific allowable uniform load for each type of beam will depend on its size, shape, and material properties.

## 5. What factors can affect the allowable uniform load for W beams and LVL?

The allowable uniform load for W beams and LVL can be affected by a variety of factors, including the beam's size, shape, material properties, and the type of load it is carrying. Other factors such as the beam's location, support conditions, and any potential environmental factors can also impact the allowable uniform load. It is important to consult with a structural engineer or follow manufacturer guidelines to determine the appropriate allowable uniform load for a specific beam in a given application.

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