Getting the Most from Our Forest Resource

Wood adhesives are important in helping use timber resources efficiently. As large trees become less available, the wood industry has developed new and innovative wood products as alternatives. Wood adhesives have made that possible. These new products can use smaller logs, less desirable species of wood, and even wood that would otherwise be burned or land-filled. These modern engineered products are manufactured from wood and as such they have structural characteristics similar to that of solid-sawn lumber. Because the natural defects of solid wood are removed in the manufacturing process, the structural properties are more uniform. The type of adhesive used to join the individual pieces could, however, affect their fire resistance.

What Adhesives Do

An adhesive is used to bond wood components such as veneer, strands, particles, and fibers. The adhesive must provide the required strength immediately after manufacture as well as for long-term use. Some of the adhesives used in modern wood products are suitable for exterior exposures.

Adhesive Performance During a Fire

Fire containment, fire growth, smoke density, and smoke toxicity are important issues to firefighters. It is important that firefighters know how modern wood products may perform in a fire. Phenolic and resorcinol adhesives have been used to manufacture structural wood products since the 1950s. As such, most of the historical performance information is based on experiences with these adhesives.

A Misconception

It is sometimes assumed that adhesives ignite more easily, and cause faster flame spread and more toxic smoke than wood alone. Available fire test data do not support this.

Examples of Modern Engineered Wood Products Using Adhesives

Building products manufactured with adhesives include:

End-jointed lumber
Glued laminated timber (glulam)
Structural Composite Lumber (e.g. LVL, PSL, LSL, and OSL)
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Architectural doors, windows, and frames
Factory-laminated wood products

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