Typically there are
cut-out or knock-out sections in the OSB material that can be removed for
running electrical wires and heat ducts.
I-beams have several major advantages. First, they are much stronger, straighter
and stiffer than conventional sawn lumber. Data indicates that they are 50%
stiffer than sawn lumber. Consequently they provide less deflection, which
translates into better floor construction.
As a result of
their strength, wood I-beams can be used to cover larger spans and can be
separated on wider on-center spacings.
Thus, significant building costs can be achieved as less wood material and labor
installation effort is required.
Note: wood I-beams
are more expensive than sawn lumber equivalent lengths; however, these initial
material costs are more than offset due to fewer wood I-beam joists required on
the project. With the benefits of increased on-center spacing and coverage of
longer spans, typically fewer floor joists are needed and the traditional center
beam required in most sawn lumber floor joist construction is eliminated.
I-beams are also much lighter than conventional sawn lumber (e.g. 2 x 10s or 2 x
12s) as they are constructed using a combination of finger jointed sawn lumber
and OSB material. Wood I-beams can weigh up to 60% less than their sawn lumber
Because of their
unique construction wood I-beams do not warp, shrink, cup or twist and thus they
are able to create stiffer floors that have fewer tendencies to settle or
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I-beams typically come in longer lengths than traditional sawn lumber. Wood
I-beams lengths can range from 24’ to 60’ in length and can be modified on the
job site with certain manufacturer restrictions.
Wood I-beams are
also considered an environmentally sensitive alternative to traditional sawn
lumber as they require 35-60% less wood material and can be constructed using
smaller faster growing trees.
Wood I-beams do
have a few limitations/concerns. Typically they are used for interior construction only
as water can damage them. Also, not all contractors and sub-contractors are
trained in using wood I-beams. As a result, careful attention has to be made so
that electrical and plumbing contractors do not notch the flanges when
installing pipes, wire or ducts.
There has also been
concern for fire safety with wood I-beams. Studies have shown that wood I-beams
are more susceptible to fire damage due to their lack of mass (when compared to
sawn lumber) and their heavy reliance on glue in their construction.
Regardless of these
few limitations/concerns, the use of engineered wood I-beams continues to grow in
popularity. They provide stronger floors, reduce overall building costs and are
environmentally friendlier than their traditional sawn lumber counterparts. So
when considering your next home building project you may want to ask your
contractor about using wood I-beams floor joists as an alternative to standard
2x10s and 2x12s.
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