Guide for NLT design and construction a first

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A new comprehensive guide on Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) with detailed expert advice is now available for Canada’s design and construction community.

Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) Canadian Design and Construction Guide, the first manual of its kind, combines design, construction, and fabrication expertise from built projects into an easy to use reference.

Co-edited by architecture firm Perkins+Will and structural engineering firm Fast + Epp, the free guide provides inspiration and direction to ensure safe, predictable and economical use of NLT, including practical strategies and guidance with lessons learned. This same team produced a similar guide for the U.S. building industry earlier this year.

NLT is created by fastening individual dimensional lumber, stacked on edge, into one structural element with nails. In addition to being used in floors, decks and roofs, nail-lam panels have been used for timber elevator and stair shafts.

While Canada is a leader in NLT use and home to an array of innovative real-life projects ranging from schools and health facilities to commercial buildings and transportation infrastructure, available informational resources are dated and scarce.

“This guide serves as a supplement to best practices and standards in wood design and construction, and is meant to offer guidance specific to the application of NLT for the range of disciplines engaged in both design and construction,” Rebecca Holt, sustainable building advisor at Perkins+Will.

Unlike other mass timber products, NLT does not require a unique manufacturing facility and can be fabricated with local dimension lumber for use in applications across sectors and building types. It is a cost-effective solution allowing projects to leverage the economic and environmental benefits of mass timber construction.

Consistent with current codes and standards, the guide focuses on design and construction considerations for floor and roof systems pertaining to Canadian construction practice and standards. Included in the code through provisions for combustible construction and heavy timber, NLT can be incorporated into a project without the need for an alternative solution application. NLT offers design flexibility and is readily accessible across the country thanks to the availability of raw materials and ease of fabrication.

“Mass timber technologies like NLT signify an exciting shift in the way we think about building,” said Tanya Luthi of Fast + Epp. “There is an eagerness among architects and building owners that we haven’t seen for a number of years, and structural engineers like myself can use a resource like this to help bring the designers’ vision to life in a safe, economical way.”

Available for free download at, the guide was authored by a team of skilled practitioners dedicated to advancing high-quality timber construction across industries, typologies, and geographies.

The guide was made possible by leadership and support from Forestry Innovation Investment and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, as well as expertise from Perkins+Will, Fast + Epp, StructureCraft, Seagate Structures Ltd., RDH Building Science, GHL Consultants Ltd., Holmes Fire, RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists, the Canadian Wood Council and FPInnovations.

Additional mass timber and wood building resources are available at and

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