What is Kerto LVL? A brief introduction to laminated veneer lumber

Metsä Wood’s lightweight and strong Kerto® LVL is made of softwood veneers. Load-bearing columns and long beams as well as large panels offer efficient solutions for fast, light and green construction. So what is Kerto LVL used for? And how does it differ from, say, glulam? This article will provide answers to these questions.


Kerto® LVL is a well-known product around the world. Its test production began in the 1970s at Punkaharju, Finland. Kerto LVL  is Metsä Wood’s own brand and demand for it is accelerating, particularly as industrial-scale wood construction gains more of a foothold. 
LVL is short for the words laminated veneer lumber.

Kerto LVL is made from the biggest logs yielded by Finnish forests. These logs are rotary peeled, and the veneers is converted into construction products with a higher added value, as well as dimensions and strength values that are in a league of their own in comparison to sawn timber.

Thin LVL beams and large LVL panels

 

Originally the product development of LVL was started in the United States, where LVL is a beam product, given that the line width there is usually 1.2 metres. Besides LVL beams Metsä Wood is able to produce large panels with a width of 2.5 metres and 1.8 metres at its Punkaharju and Lohja mills in Finland, meaning that we are, in effect, speaking of a different product.

Cross-bonded panels are “Metsä Wood’s thing”. Roughly one fifth of the veneers in Kerto LVL panel is glued crosswise, which gives the product excellent properties. The cross-bonded panels do not distort or shrink. To customers, this appears as straight and easy-to-install products of a consistent quality.

The new Kerto line that started up in August 2017 at Lohja provided Metsä Wood with the world’s most flexible production equipment for the manufacturing of LVL. In addition to cross-bonded products, the line can produce any length whatsoever between two and twenty-five metres. All of the products are manufactured according to the customer’s specifications.

  • Kerto® LVL

  • Kerto® LVL S-beam

  • Kerto® LVL Q-panel and L-panel

  • Kerto® LVL T-stud

  • Kerto® LVL WeatherGuard®

  • Kerto® LVL Qp-beam

  • Kerto® LVL MasterPlank

The material efficiency of Kerto LVL generates cost savings

 

Kerto is usually used for construction that requires superior strength qualities or greater cross-sections or lengths. As an example, intermediate floor structures require adequate stiffness due to vibration dimensioning. The Kerto LVL wall studs, on the other hand, are an alternative to studs made from sawn timber or steel.

Kerto LVL’s good properties are crystallised in the product’s material efficiency. Its price per cubic metres is more expensive than that of comparable products, but on the other hand, the volume of product required is a lot lower. The small amount of wastage is another aspect that gives Kerto a competitive edge.

The product’s consistent quality likewise carries a value. Whereas glulam columns or CLT elements are made by gluing several planks on top of each other flatwise, Kerto is made from veneers glued on top of each other into a continuous billet. A 45-millimetre plank is not as homogeneous as a piece of Kerto made from three-millimetre veneers of equal thickness. This is where the difference between these products originates from, and what Kerto’s superiority in material efficiency is based on.

Wood construction picking up                                  

 

Demand for Kerto has been very robust for the past year, as construction and interest in sustainable building materials has picked up. This creates a need to increase the production capacity of Kerto LVL.

Metsä Wood’s improved competitiveness and good outlook create an excellent basis for investments: the new Kerto LVL line at the Lohja mill increased the mill’s capacity by 20,000 cubic metres a year.  The Punkaharju mill is also investing in Kerto LVL production; the construction project of a new 65,000 m3 Kerto LVL line is currently underway.

New operators entering Europe’s LVL markets accelerate the wood construction trend. Competition in LVL products promotes wood construction as a whole and meets growing demand.

Fast, Light, Greenarticles

 

In the Fast, Light and Green article series, we open up the possibilities of  Kerto® LVL


How we build now and in the future is critical to economic growth, human wellbeing, and our global climate. In the Fast, Light and Green series Metsä Wood opens up the possibilities of more sustainable, material efficient and productive construction through premium Kerto® LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber).The series provides insightful – even surprising – perspectives on why wood materials are often the superior choice over concrete or steel. We’ve also invited a diverse group of professionals who share our passion for wood to contribute their opinions and insights.