Bending and Vibration Behaviour of CLT-Steel Composite Beams


  • Noah Böhm
  • Achim Vogelsberg
  • Bertram Kühn



steel-timber-composite, cross-laminated timber, composite bending capacity, composite bending stiffness, vibration behaviour


A strengthening of cross-laminated timber (CLT) by a composite effect with steel girders can widen the application of CLT ceilings to spans over 8 m. Most possible shear connectors are not stiff enough to ensure a completely rigid composite. At present, it has not been sufficiently clarified how the elastic bending behaviour is affected by the influences of the flexibility of continuously and discontinuously shear connectors, the number of transverse layers of the CLT and the span width. Thus, 4-point bending tests and vibration tests were performed with different cross-section configurations and two different shear connectors in continuous and discontinuous spacing in spans of 8.10 and 10.80 m. To date, no comparable bending tests have been carried out in these spans, with more than five CLT-layers and discontinuously arranged shear connectors.

The composite beams deformed linear-elastically until the yield strength of the steel was reached. The composite effect increased the elastic bending stiffness up to twofold compared to no composite. Increasing the span resulted in a higher bending stiffnesses. The elastic bending stiffness of the composite beams with shear studs was significantly lower than with fully threaded screws.

For a worthwhile composite effect, both materials should contribute a balanced share of the stiffness. A larger share of the CLT in the bending stiffness compared to the steel girder created a higher elastic limit load capacity but an equivalent bending stiffness. It is necessary to discuss which cross-sectional configurations are appropriate in terms of load bearing capacity, economic efficiency and sustainability.

To assess the practical application potential in spans between 8 and 12 m, the tests were additionally evaluated for the equivalent load level for the serviceability limit state of office or industrial buildings. For spans of 8.10 m, the limits according to EC5 for the initial deflection of L/300 and fundamental frequency of 8 Hz can be met. For spans of 10.80 m, only less strict deflection limits are achieved. However, by increasing the degree of composite through more shear connectors, compliance with the limit values mentioned could already be possible with the cross-sections tested.

In case of fire, it may be sufficient to consider only the CLT with the reduced cross-section method (EN 1995-1-2) for load transfer, even for longer fire durations.