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Old 11-07-2008, 10:04 PM   #1
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Spruce vs Cedar


I am planning to build a shed roof over a concrete pad.
The roof is to be supported by two posts. The rafters will be supported by a laminated beam, constructed from 3, 2X10's... The span is twelve feet.

I have now found a source for a Pacific Red Cedar beam. Its a solid timber, 5.5"X9.5" sawn from a salvaged electrical pole.

Would this beam be as good or better than one made from laminated spruce ?

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Old 11-08-2008, 07:51 AM   #2
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Laminated spruce? Are you talking about an assembled LVL beam?

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Old 11-08-2008, 03:35 PM   #3
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Spruce vs Cedar


Laminated spruce dimension lumber would probably be a gluelam. Very, very strong.

A gluelam beam will be much stronger than a comparably-sized cedar beam. Cedar's structural applications are few and far between.

Another consideration is weather exposure. A spruce beam will not have the decay-resistance that cedar does.
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Old 11-08-2008, 08:59 PM   #4
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Thanks KC! My permit was issued on the basis of using the three laminated 2X10's.
I'll stick to the original plan, as the beam will be protected from the elements with an aluminum skin!
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Old 11-09-2008, 12:22 AM   #5
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Three 2x10's isn't a gluelam, but will be pretty strong. The spruce will be stronger than cedar would. BE SURE to weather protect it though. I'd suggest using roofing felt between the wood and the metal skin, to eliminate the chance of condensation damaging the wood.
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Old 11-10-2008, 06:30 AM   #6
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Spruce vs Cedar


Since your not using Gluelam in your situation the Cedar beam may be the better choice as it is almost equal in strength (if grades are similar) to Spruce while the Cedar provides natural decay resistance. For info on various lumber species span strengths here:

http://www.wclib.org/pdfs/SimpSpanTbls.pdf

In addition if the Cedar beams are from recycled electrical poles they are chemically treated for decay, pest and fire resistance. Older poles were treated with some narly stuff like creosote and pentachlorophenal but since the 1980 more environmentally friendly treatments have been developed. The treatment is mainly in the outer layer which is probably cut away when the pole is cut to beam dimensions. Even then I'll bet these beams are restricted to exterior applications.
Cedar is just one of many species that is used for power poles. Whatever species used the poles also have to meet various specs for strength.
So if you can save a few bucks (or even if the cost is equal) the recycled power poles appear to me to be the way to go.
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crawdoogie View Post
Since your not using Gluelam in your situation the Cedar beam may be the better choice as it is almost equal in strength (if grades are similar) to Spruce while the Cedar provides natural decay resistance. For info on various lumber species span strengths here:

http://www.wclib.org/pdfs/SimpSpanTbls.pdf

In addition if the Cedar beams are from recycled electrical poles they are chemically treated for decay, pest and fire resistance. Older poles were treated with some narly stuff like creosote and pentachlorophenal but since the 1980 more environmentally friendly treatments have been developed. The treatment is mainly in the outer layer which is probably cut away when the pole is cut to beam dimensions. Even then I'll bet these beams are restricted to exterior applications.
Cedar is just one of many species that is used for power poles. Whatever species used the poles also have to meet various specs for strength.
So if you can save a few bucks (or even if the cost is equal) the recycled power poles appear to me to be the way to go.
Thanks for the link, I've been looking for a site with this info, and it comes at a good time.

I suspect that these poles will, by most part be older poles that used creosote.
I wonder if the creosote is used for the whole pole or just the butt.
At some time in the future, I may consider closing this area in, to form a sun room.
Would creosote not cause a problem should I elect to close in?
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:19 AM   #8
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If it is creosote it will be dark brownish black and all oily and crappy looking. Pentachlorophenol is commonly used to treat telephone poles and gluelams for exterior use...It is dark honey brown and it stinks like oily diesel, but looks better.

As for a Cedar beam being stronger than a gluelam beam....Uhhh, no.
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Old 11-10-2008, 01:21 PM   #9
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The big problem with resawn or used lumber is the grading. Lumber has to have a grade stamp on it to determine the grade which determines the loads it can handle.

No grade stamp means no use for structural especially if you have a permit.
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Old 11-10-2008, 01:25 PM   #10
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Some libraries have this, for general info
http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Lumber-E...6345113&sr=8-1
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Old 11-10-2008, 06:57 PM   #11
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Grade Stamp! That was something else that was worrying me!
With all these concerns, I think that the savings are not worth the uncertainties of using the cedar.
Although I can order a wider beam, I then would have to submit a revision to city hall, wait for the approval or disapproval. And on and on!
Bad idea, all and all!
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
If it is creosote it will be dark brownish black and all oily and crappy looking. Pentachlorophenol is commonly used to treat telephone poles and gluelams for exterior use...It is dark honey brown and it stinks like oily diesel, but looks better.

As for a Cedar beam being stronger than a gluelam beam....Uhhh, no.
Uhhh, Go back and read the first sentence in post #6. Never said it was. Thank you

Good point MG about needing spec for any structural lumber used. I was under the assumption that the recycled Cedar was coming from a legit supplier and be same grade or better for the OP to even consider it as an alternative. But you are mistaken about grading reclaimed lumber as it is common practice for companies that reclaim lumber to provide grading. It makes little sense to not grade it when most of the time it is of better quality than currently available mill stock and adds to their bottom line.

http://www.traditional-building.com/...thlumber.shtml

Wildie, the Cedar poles used are butt treated and this end is removed before they are sold to the wholesale market.

http://www.wrcpa.org/cpn/cpn113.html

As far your local building departments approval it comes down to whether the change meets or excess current approved specs and the beam is graded/stamped as such.

Heck. your local building inspectors are who you should be talking to about this anyway.

If the lumber isn't properly graded then get some that is. Ask your lumber supplier I'll bet that he could find a source that is graded.

Use recycled products whenever possible. It will usually save you some cash and help our environment as our world population nears 7 billion.

Last edited by crawdoogie; 11-11-2008 at 09:11 AM. Reason: add to message
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:55 PM   #13
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Spruce vs Cedar


Stick with your 2x10. Glue it and screw it!!!! Crowns up of course.! It'll never move.

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