If you’re doing any major work in your home, it’s important to think about the load-bearing capacity of your floors. This isn’t something that most people have to consider most of the time, but there are instances in which you really need to pay attention to what your floors can hold and whether you’re at risk of damaging them.
Sometimes, you’ll be adding extremely heavy equipment to your home, and sometimes you’ll be doing DIY that involves serious tools. You should carefully calculate whether your floors can hold this weight before you bright the equipment in, and check that there is plenty of leeway. If you don’t, you could have expensive damages on your hands!
How much weight can a floor hold? Well-built floors should be able to hold an enormous amount of weight, but it can be tricky to calculate exactly how much. In many cases, a non-sleeping room must be able to support at least 40 pounds per square foot, not including the weight of the building’s construction. To calculate a room’s capacity, you’ll need to multiply the square footage by 40 pounds.
How Much Weight Can You Put on a Floor?
To calculate your floor’s capacity to hold weight, you should first find out how large the room is. If your room measures 15 by 20 feet, it has a total square footage of 300. This can then be multiplied by 40 to get 12,000 pounds. That’s how much your floor should be able to hold if it’s up to the International Residential Code.
This calculation gives you the “live load” capacity of your room – or the weight capacity that the floor can hold that doesn’t include the weight of its own construction. You may also see “dead load” referred to, and this is the weight of the building (including its walls, roof, etc.).
It’s important to think about the total “live load” of the room, including all furniture. Don’t just think about what you are planning to add to the room. For example, if you’re having a huge party, you can’t just calculate the weight of your guests and assume the floor will hold up; you need to think about the cumulative weight of the room’s contents.
You should also know that this code applies to residential non-sleeping spaces, such as living rooms. You mustn’t add more than this weight to a room, or there is a very real danger of the floor collapsing and doing serious damage to your home.
However, you should be aware that the 12,000 isn’t just a blanket number you can take for the whole room. A heavy piece of equipment is going to be confined to just one part of the room, and if it exceeds the limit for that area, it could damage the floor.
Will You Get Some Warning Before a Floor Gives Way?
In many cases, you will not get a lot of warning before your floor gives way, if it’s going to. There is a high risk that it will simply fall. A joist will break, and the surrounding joists will suddenly be under far more pressure, causing them to snap too. The floor will fall through, usually into the room below.
This is obviously both dangerous and damaging. It will ruin both rooms, and may result in torn cables, damaged plumbing, and destroyed furniture. In really serious cases, it could also result in injuries or even the loss of life. It must be avoided at all costs, so take load capacity seriously.
Sometimes, you’ll hear a floor creaking or groaning before it gives way, but this won’t give you significant insight into how well the joists are holding up, and you absolutely should not rely on this as a warning system. Instead, you must make sure you understand your floor’s weight limits.
You should also be aware that creaking or groaning certainly doesn’t mean the floor is going to fall through. In some cases, this will happen simply because a board is moving. Floors may creak more in damp weather, and there’s nothing to say that your floor is at risk of falling just because it is noisy.
How Do You Know If Your Floor Will Hold Something?
If you plan to add some heavy equipment to a room in your home, it is absolutely critical to get advice from an expert. You will need an inspection of the space to be done so they can determine things like how far apart the joists are, what grade of wood has been used, and more.
Don’t try to assess this yourself without an expert’s help. There are a lot of variables to account for, and they will also be able to advise you on what to do if your floor won’t hold the weight you want to put on it.
You might be able to add additional supports at a fairly low cost – and this will definitely be preferable to your floor falling down.
It’s also important to get an expert in if you wish to add weight to a sleeping space, because the building codes may be different here. If you’re going to host a big party in your bedroom, for example, outside advice is certainly required.
Do Floor Trusses Make a Difference?
If you know your home has floor trusses, it’s likely that it will hold a lot more weight than if it has joists. Trusses are generally only used in commercial buildings, but if you do have them in a residential property, it’s good to know this so you can recalculate the weight accordingly.
However, even with trusses, it may be wise to get an expert’s opinion before putting something very heavy in your living room. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Most living room floors can hold 40 pounds of weight per square meter, which should help you to calculate your floor’s capacity. It’s still important to talk to an expert if you’re hosting a big party or you’re adding heavy equipment to a room, to make sure it will stand up to this stress!