What Are The Considerations During Floor Framing Design?

Selection of a suitable and economical floor system for a steel-frame building involves many considerations: load-carrying capacity, durability, fire resistance, dead weight, overall depth, facility for installing power, light, and telephones, facility for installing aid conditioning, sound transmission, appearance, maintenance, and construction time.

Building codes specify minimum design live loads for floor and roof systems. In the absence of a code regulation, one may use ‘‘Minimum Design Loads in Buildings and Other Structures,’’ ASCE 7-93, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Floors should be designed to support the actual loading or these minimum loads, whichever is larger. Most floors can be designed to carry any given load. However, in some instances, a building code may place a maximum load limit on particular floor systems without regard to calculated capacity.

Resistance to lateral forces should not be disregarded, especially in areas of seismic disturbances or for perimeter wind bents. In designs for such conditions, floors may be employed as horizontal diaphragms to distribute lateral forces to walls or vertical framing; those elements then transmit the lateral forces to the

When using lightweight floor systems, special reinforcement in the floor slab may be necessary at those points where the floor diaphragm transfers the horizontal forces to the frame elements. Durability becomes a major consideration when a floor is subject to loads other than static or moderately kinetic types of forces.

For example, a light joist system may be just the floor for an apartment or an office building but may be questionable for a manufacturing establishment where a floor must resist heavy impact and severe

Shallow floor systems deflect more than deep floors; the system selected should not permit excessive or objectionable deflections.

Fire resistance and fire rating are very important factors, because building codes in the interest of public safety, specify the degree of resistance that must be provided. Many floor systems are rated by the codes or by fire underwriters for purposes of satisfying code requirements or basing insurance rates.

The dead weight of the floor system, including the framing, is an important factor affecting economy of construction. For one thing, substantial saving in the weight and cost of a steel frame may result with lightweight floor systems.

In addition, low dead weight may also reduce foundation costs. Joist systems, either steel or concrete, require no immediate support, since they are obtainable in lengths to meet normal bay dimensions in tier building construction.

On the other hand, concrete arch and cellular-steel floors are usually designed with one or two intermediate beams within the panel. The elimination of secondary beams does not necessarily mean overall economy just because the structural-steel contract is less.

These beams are simple to fabricate and erect and allow much duplication. An analysis of contract price shows that the cost per ton of secondary beams will average 20% under the cost per ton for the whole steel structure; or viewed another way, the omission of secondary beams increases the price per ton on the balance of the steelwork by 31⁄2% on the average. This fact should be taken into account when making a cost analysis of several systems.

Sometimes, the depth of a floor system is important. For example, the height of a building may be limited for a particular type of fire-resistant construction or by zoning laws. The thickness of the floor system may well be the determining factor limiting the number of stories that can be built. Also, the economy of a deep floor
is partly offset by the increase in height of walls, columns, pipes, etc.

Another important consideration, particularly for office buildings and similar type occupancies, is the need for furnishing an economical and flexible electrical wiring system. With the accent on movable partitions and ever-changing office arrangements, the readiness and ease with which telephones, desk lights, computers, and other electric-powered business machines can be relocated are of major importance.

Therefore, the floor system that by its makeup provides large void spaces or cells for concealing wiring possesses a distinct advantage over competitive types of solid construction. Likewise, accommodation of recessed lighting in ceilings may disclose an advantage for one system over another. Furthermore, for economical air conditioning and ventilation, location of ducts and method of support warrant study of several floor systems.

Sound transmission and acoustical treatments are other factors that need to be evaluated. A wealth of data are available in reports of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In general, floor systems of sandwich type with air spaces between layers afford better resistance to sound transmission than solid systems, which do not interrupt sound waves.

Although the ideal soundproof floor is impractical, because of cost, several reasonably satisfactory systems are available. Much depends on type of occupancy, floor coverings, and ceiling finish—acoustical plaster or tile.

Appearance and maintenance also should be weighed by the designer and the owner. A smooth, neat ceiling is usually a prerequisite for residential occupancy; a less expensive finish may be deemed satisfactory for an institutional building.

Speed of construction is essential. Contractors prefer systems that enable the follow-up trades to work immediately behind the erector and with unimpeded efficiency.

In general, either rolled beams or open-web joists are used to support the floor elements. The most common types of flooring are (a) concrete fill on metal deck, (b) pre-cast concrete plank, and (c) cast-in-place concrete floors with integral joist.

Metal decks may be cellular or plain and are usually stud-welded to the supporting elements to provide composite action. Cast-in-place concrete floors, or concrete pan floors, are becoming less common than in the past. In addition to the systems described, there are several adaptations of these as well as other proprietary systems.

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