Benefits of Southern Yellow Pine


+ Alabama is #7 in lumber production

+ Forestry is Alabama’s 2nd largest manufacturing industry, ranking #1 in US pulp production, and #3 in paper production

+ Timber expansion in Alabama outpaces the harvesting

+ Alabama sports 1,400 tree farms with 2.2 million acres certified under the Tree Farm program

+ Export of forest products average 1.2 million tons annually

+ More than 90% of Alabama woodlands are privately owned

SmartLam has a manufacturing plant in Dothan, Alabama that produces Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glulam in Southern Yellow Pine. What is so special about Southern Yellow Pine? Let’s find out.

The Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) group consists of four main species — shortleaf, longleaf, loblolly, and slash Pine. Recognized for its strength and density, SYP has long been the preferred species for pressure treatment because of its unique cellular structure that permits deep, uniform penetration of preservatives. Southern Pine offers a distinct grain pattern and an appealing golden color. Because of this natural beauty, exposed Southern Yellow Pine provides architectural appeal.

Green Building Material

Southern Pine forests are some of the most productive and sustainable timberlands in the world, capturing large amounts of carbon from the air and storing it in lumber used every day. Southern Pine is grown and manufactured in the Southern U.S., further improving local economies, reducing transportation costs and minimizing impacts on the environment.


Cost Savings

Wood products are one of the most cost-effective building materials on the market. Southern Pine is competitively priced because of an abundant timber supply, manufacturing expertise and established market preference.

Widespread Availability

Southern Pine is an abundant and renewable resource, growing in a vast band across the southern United States from east Texas to Virginia. These forests are in close proximity to many Southern Pine lumber manufacturing facilities, offering ready availability to major markets.

Proven Quality

Southern Pine lumber is graded in accordance with the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) Standard Grading Rules for Southern Pine Lumber.

Best Treatability

Southern Pine has long been the preferred species for pressure treatment because of its unique cellular structure that permits deep, uniform penetration of preservatives. 85% of all pressure-treated wood produced in the U.S. is Southern Pine.

Highest Density

Southern Pine has the highest specific gravity of all common structural lumber species, providing superior fastener-holding power and load-bearing capacity.

Comparable Strength and Stiffness

Design values for Southern Pine are comparable to other softwood species used in residential and commercial construction. Users can choose from a variety of visual grades and an increasing supply of mechanical grades providing a wide range of dependable strength and stiffness properties to meet the needs of any project.

Dimensional Stability

Southern Pine dimension lumber 2 inch and less in thickness must be dried to a maximum moisture content of 19%. This minimizes shrinkage associated with green lumber and provides long-term stability.

Welcome to the team Paul


[email protected]

SmartLam is thrilled to bring Paul onto our team as the VP of Sales and marketing. Paul is an accomplished leader of diverse teams with 20+ years of sales, operations, engineering, marketing, and financial experience in the manufacturing and construction industries. He has been highly successful working safely in a complex, value-added custom manufacturing environment. 

With a degree from the University of Wisconsin in Civil Engineering, Paul’s background spans many different aspects of the construction industry. His knowledge, leadership skills and experience are a fantastic addition to our team. 

CLT Patent


+  IT is widely accepted that clt originiated in europe in the 90s
+  This patent is from 1923 in Tacoma, washington
+  That makes CLT 97 this year

If you search the internet and type in “when was CLT invented?” The unanimous answer is the 1990s, in Europe. 

But it would appear that in fact, there is more to the story. In 1923, two gentlemen in Tacoma, Washington were granted a patent to a product that can be interpreted as nothing if not cross laminated timber. The patent was applied for in March 1920, and you can click the link below to read the original. 

“This invention relates to improvements in the composite lumber and the method of forming the same, and has for its object to provide a composite lumber that is formed of a plurality of pieces of soft wood held together by cement or equivalent means and then compressed with pressure sufficient to effect certain beneficial changes in the physical properties of the composite mass and thereby produce a new article of manufacture suitable for many commercial purposes in which the original wood could not be used, and in which its properties render it superior to other existing substances.” 

St Peter and Paul Cathedral


+  Built from 1883
+  Towers finished in 1901
+  194 feet long
+  Bells weigh over 1.5 tons

In the capital city of Paramaribo in the country Suriname, located in the north of South America, there stands a cathedral that is one of the biggest wooden structures in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in 1883, consecrated in 1885, with the towers not being completed until 1901. In 2010 the cathedral underwent a major restoration and was assigned as a minor basilica in 2014. 

This structure is 194 feet long, 54 feet wide and 48 feet tall in the main part of the building. It has enough space for roughly 900 people, with over 10,000 square feet of floorspace. Interestingly, the three bells in the west tower weigh over one and a half tons combined. (3288 pounds to be exact)  

Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral’s home country, Suriname, is a country dominated by forests. This has been a massive contribution to their ability to become the first country to achieve carbon neutrality. It is considered to be a part of the Caribbean culturally, although Dutch is the official language of government, business, media and education. Interestingly, Suriname is the only sovereign nation outside of Europe to speak Dutch by most of the population.  

Nara Temple Complex

Time for some history on buildings built out of wood centuries ago. Wood is a very reliable building material and has been utilized for thousands of years. Last month we learned about the Stave Churches in Norway, click here to read more about them.  

Today we’re headed across the map to Asia, specifically to Japan. There is a temple in Nara that was once one of the Seven Great Temples and was finished in 752BC. The temple is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as one of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.” The Great Buddha Hall houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha Vairocana, or Daibutsu in Japanese. The temple is the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.  

The commencement of construction was in 728BC, and the ordination of the building was conducted in 754BC with 10,000 monks and 4,000 dancers to celebrate the completion. It was used as the main location of ordination of Japanese Buddisht monks for decades until the Vinaya lineage of monks died out. The building’s initial construction was funded by monks collecting donations from around the country, with 2,600,000 people helping with the construction contributing rice, wood, metal, cloth or labor. It is estimated that over 350,000 people worked directly on the statue’s construction alone.  

The Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) has been rebuilt twice after fire. The current building was finished in 1709, and although immense—57 metres (187 ft) long, 50 metres (160 ft) wide and 49 metres (161 ft) high—it is actually 30% smaller than its predecessor. Until 1998, it was the world’s largest wooden building.[21] It has been surpassed by modern structures, such as the Japanese baseball stadium Odate Jukai Dome’, amongst others. The Great Buddha statue has been recast several times for various reasons, including earthquake damage. The current hands of the statue were made in the Momoyama Period (1568–1615), and the head was made in the Edo period (1615–1867).  


For stunning photography of this temple complex, visit the Time Travel Turtle below. 


Time Travel Turtle

Tōdai-ji Temple


Welcome to the team Alex

Alexandra Hainsworth has joined the SmartLam team in the role of Marketing Specialist. Having worked in as a marketing consultant in Australia for the past decade, working with top tier corporations across multiple fields. With specialties in digital and print marketing as well as events and brand activation, she is a fantastic addition to our team. 

We’re thrilled to add her to the team to help raise the bar in our marketing and press communications. To get in touch regarding and press enquiries for SmartLam, reach out to Alex here

CLT Elevator Shafts

Many of us use elevators every day. And while they may be mundane and taken for granted, for a developer, an architect, or a builder they are neither. An elevator shaft is a critical part of any multi-story building. Not only is it an essential means of vertical conveyance within the building itself, it often serves as a structural backbone and connection point for many of the key structural elements of the building.

Elevator shafts are often one of the first elements to be constructed in a building as either part of the foundation work or immediately after the foundation. In most construction projects the elevator shaft is a “critical path” component. It must be completed prior to any subsequent activities. An elevator shaft drives the rest of a construction project schedule. A delay in elevator shaft construction simply delays the entire project. Most builders focus on critical path elements and attempt to improve their schedules by optimizing their efforts on critical path items.

A traditional elevator shaft is constructed with either CMU (concrete masonry units) or poured in place concrete. This process is slow, dirty, labor intensive work. It takes a full crew of men, working several weeks to complete even a single 3 to 4 story elevator shaft. There is scaffolding to be assembled both inside and outside the shaft. There are inspections to be scheduled for each 8 to 10 feet of vertical construction. Masonry is adversely affected by cold weather and work is either halted or temporarily tented and heated during cold weather construction. Elevator shafts are a necessary evil to builders and have a significant impact on their schedules and budgets.

And yes, there is a better way. Imagine a massive and monolithic material a fraction of the weight of concrete, yet with equal strength that can be fabricated offsite and installed in mere hours. Imagine mass timber. Imagine CLT. What traditionally would take many weeks of messy complex work requiring entire crews of workers, and compromised by cold weather, can simply be delivered by a semi-tractor trailer, flown in by a crane, and set with a crew of 3 people in a matter of hours. And yes, it is that simple.

Elevator shafts have become my favorite part of any building. I seek them out and ride them with a broad and satisfied smile. They are the perfect metaphor for the perfect building material. The elevator shaft is the “elevator pitch” for mass timber. SmartLam North America installed the first commercial elevator shaft in a small project in Whitefish Montana and since then we have provided scores of other projects with either an elevator shaft alone or as part of a larger mass timber building. The elevator shaft has served as a means by which we can introduce an element of mass timber into a project and give a contractor a simple way to experience the ease and simplicity of our product. A CLT elevator shaft can save thousands of dollars, shave weeks off your schedule, reduce your labor force, reduce your carbon footprint, and while you are installing yours, we will be growing new ones. Yes, wood is renewable. It is no wonder that after installing an elevator shaft made of CLT, one then begins to ask, “why not build the entire building that way”. Let’s elevate that discussion!

Second Street Lofts, Whitefish Montana

Questions about Elevator shafts and how we can help, get in touch. 

Norweigan Stave Churches


+  Built from the Viking Era (793-1066ad) through roughly 1350 AD
+  Notre Dame was finished in 1345
+  Most are 800+ years old
+  Norwegian tree prepartion is credited for the longevity 

One of the most frequent comments we get in the Mass Timber industry from people just learning about it is “Isn’t a concrete building stronger? Surely wood doesn’t last that long!” Well we are starting a new blog series on some of the oldest wood building still standing, starting today with Stave Churches, primarily found in Norway. It is estimated there were somewhere around 2,000 churches built, with roughly 30 still standing around the world.

Stave churches were built from around 1000 AD and on, however not until around 1100 did the builders start adding stone foundations, which helped dramatically in reducing the rot from the wood being directly in the ground.The stave churches that remain today are from this period of time (1150-1350 AD) although there are numerously archaeological excavations that have shown the older styles, in addition to written sources talking about these buildings.  (1)

The construction of these churches involved a Norwegian wood preparation process starting from the very beginning walking the many forests of Norway (40% of Norway is forest) and picking an area of trees based on a number of factors. For example, pine is preferred, but Norwegian spruce is also good. Picking trees that were tall, straight and even, preferred from a south-facing slope. They tried to source as much as possible from a similar area to ensure consistency.

The best way to ensure the wood was really well prepared included years of preparation. “Along with the branches, the top was cut off – to limit the transport of fluid through the wood. Then, the bark was removed – all around the trunk – slightly less than one metre per year – starting from the bottom; preferably during the frost season. To get the best result, this process continued for seven years or more. By damaging the trunk in this way, the tree filled all parts of the wood with resin, trying to repair itself. The finished result – often referred to as ore-pine or cured pine – is the material that you usually find in the many ancient wooden buildings – in Norway and in other places around the globe. Wood that will last for a thousand years and more.” (6)

As a great comparison to the age of the structures, Notre Dame was completed in 1345, and Borgund Stave Church in Norway was 450 years old when St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.

For some extra fun, Heddel Church (pictured above) has a fun legend about the construction of the building involving trolls and five farmers finishing the whole building in three days. (2) If you’d like to see one in person but can’t make it all the way to Norway, there is a Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota with a life-size replica of the Gol Stave Church in Norway. (7)



(2, photo)