Stacked and glued 2X4s used as a beam

Hey Folks (and hopefully Randy will chime in), I ran into this beam in a home built in 2009. It appears this beam is manufactured due to the clean appearance where the glue comes to the edges of the 2X4s, but I’ve never really seen one like this. (Other beams in home are laminated, as I would expect.)

What do you guy say? Is this something other inspectors run into regularly in different regions?


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Site-built, or unplaned/unsanded Glu-Lam (for hidden locations = lower cost).

Glulam - APA – The Engineered Wood Association

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Homemade or site built glulam, looks like.

As others have said site-build. Looks Ok from here.

Watch this Building Integrity video for an atrocious glulam project in Norway–


From my mechanical engineering experience, two boards glued together is double the strength of a single board, and so forth and so on. Provided that the individual boards are each structurally sound and the glue was done correctly, it is the equivalent of a glue-lam of the same dimensions. I suspect that it is over-engineered for the application (looks like no or minimal visible deflection in the beam, correct)? If it were my design for the beam, I would have preferred to use 2x12s aligned vertically, glued and perhaps also bolted together - likely a stronger, but more expensive design.


jeeze, thats embarrassing.

reminds me of an engineering saying i’ve heard before:

“anyone can design a bridge, but only an engineer can design a bridge that just barely stands”

Good engineering design is not only structurally sound, but is also designed with cost/efficiency, sustainability etc. in mind. In this case… they weren’t so good.

Not much, just a type of glu-lam. I see these periodically.

With finger joints?

I bet it’s manufactured…


Thus my comment of “unplaned/unsanded” (from the mill), but ‘finger joint’ studs are becoming more and more commonplace as the supply of harvest-able timber gets scarce and more expensive, (eg. OSB).

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Looks manufactured. Look at the pine finger joints. As well, the glued sticks of lumber have been compressed.
Approximately 15.75" deep by 3.50" wide glulam beam.
Any deflection?

New Building Phase inspection?
Looks like Very nice work. I gleaned the images.
Forced Air Ductwork supported. All joints taped.
What the duct for that is being supported by lumber? HRV/ERV/Mechanical venting?
Cold climate? Barrier reflection side facing inwards.
Good luck.

IMO it was a manufactured glulam beam. Finger joints are permitted and these beams come in different grades. Your is a lower “FRAMING” grade where visible glue lines are acceptable. Glulam beams are rare in my area. I normally see LVL or steel beams used in long spans with larger loads.

Could be: the lumber came with finger joists, and was site built into the beam. Finger joints are supposed to be as good as the original wood.

It’s a shame they did these all flat. 1x6’s turned the other way would be stronger.

Thanks for everyone’s responses. Seems unusual to me to have 2X4s laid flat—just because all of the rigidity of the beam is dependent upon the glue, right? I’d have rather seen an LVL, but didn’t see any problems.

Again, thanks for the responses.

It is more versital to use the other way to enable constructing various shapes.
Example here of one of the last projects I used glulams.

Because of the way it’s manufactured, glulam has greater strength and stiffness than comparably-sized dimensional lumber. Pound for pound, it’s stronger than steel. This means glulam can span relatively long distances without need for intermediate support, making it useful for beam and header applications.

I don’t see leaking glue joints as one of the appearance grade here;

But, I did find it here, where they say it is permissible.