How much weight can a raised access floor handle?

It is a question that comes up almost every time we work with a new client, and for good reason. If they don’t bring it up, it’s one of the top things that we need to know when designing a new raised floor. The reality, as with most things, is that there a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration and one size does not fit all. This month, we take the opportunity to explore those factors in a little more depth to help our clients understand what goes into designing their raised floors.

You may see the term ‘load factors’ splashed around – online, on chat forums, and even on flooring materials themselves – but be aware that this is not the whole story. The first thing that we will consider is the design load versus the working load. The first is exactly what it says on the panel: what load a particular panel is designed to withstand. The second relates to how it actually does that. And this is where it can get a little more complicated. Here are the things we need to know about how you intend to use your flooring, to help us calculate the working load.

  • Point load. This relates to the number of points over which a load is spread. For example, if you are storing cables, they are likely to be on a rack which will have a series of feet (or points). Calculating the total weight and the number of points over which it is distributed will enable us to calculate what design weight panels are best for you. A simple rule of thumb is that your total point load must not exceed the panel design load.
  • Rolling load. Perhaps your cables or other heavy items are to be stored on a rack with casters to allow for easier movement. A similar calculation will need to be performed to design the right panel load for you and this will include a rough idea of the frequency of moving things around on those casters – in other words, will you be moving them regularly or just once in a while?
  • Storage. Another factor to consider is whether what you are storing is likely to be static or have to move frequently and whether it is bulky and heavy. Static, bulky items will require a different load design to items that are to be moved frequently – whether bulky or not.
  • Foot traffic. If your raised floor is for an office or retail space, then you are less likely to have to worry about heavy or bulky items and more likely to need to take into account foot traffic. Those areas that are going to experience higher footfall – for example, corridors or entrances – can utilise higher load-bearing panels, while those with less foot traffic can have a lower load bearing. Smart design can lead to cost savings not only for the initial installation, but for maintenance and repair as well.

For a general chat or for further advice on designing the right raised floor for your needs, talk to us – this is what our Fieldman’s Access Floors team is here for. Just call us on 020 8462 7100 whether for an informal chat or to make a more formal appointment.