Case study

A very focused guide to the mezzanine floor solution

Jul 23, 2021 | Mezzanine Floors

You probably already know what a mezzanine floor is, but if lack of space is affecting the functionality of your business operations and a mezzanine floor is a solution you’re considering, then you’re likely to be looking for more information. This guide has been compiled so you can explore all aspects of mezzanine floors including:

  • The physical structure of the mezzanine floor including required and optional features.
  • Ways in which mezzanine floors are used to improve business operations and strengthen prosperity across many industries.
  • How to source a mezzanine floor cost-effectively without compromising on quality and safety
  • Any relevant legal or local authority regulations
  • Mezzanine floor design, manufacture and installation process
  • Ways to maintain quality and safety once your mezzanine floor project is complete

So let’s start with at the basics:

What is a mezzanine floor?

In short a mezzanine floor is an upper level platform constructed between the original floors and ceiling within a building. The self-contained mezzanine structure is implemented to create more usable space without there being any effect on the initial building structure. The body of a mezzanine floor is made up of structural steel components to create a sturdy resistance of which parts include:

Columns – Stood vertically between the horizontal mezzanine level and floor bellow, the mezzanine floor columns are an integral part of the structure positioned to distribute weight evenly ensuring stability and support. The total number of columns required will depend on the size of the mezzanine floor and how the mezzanine floor is used. A small mezzanine floor used for light activities for example may only require four columns each of them positioned beneath the mezzanine corner; however a larger mezzanine floor used to support heavy operations would require more columns to support the mezzanines weight and size. In addition column guards provide extra protection in facilities where there is high risk of moving equipment colliding with the columns. These are fitted securely around the bottom of the columns where they take the impact of the hit instead of the column itself. Mezzanine Colums with column guards

Base Plates – One per column, a base plate is bolted to the floor allowing the column which is then fitted onto the plate more stability and security. The base plate is a perfectly flat, square piece of steel that acts as the column footing, ensuring balance.

Main Beams –Positioned in a grid-like pattern the main beams create the platforms outer framework and as the steel parts come together the basic infrastructure gains significant strength.

Purlins– These are C section steel bars and are fitted to run between the main beams, completing the mezzanines elemental form.

Joists – Used to increase the rigorousness of the structure the joists are dimensioned to support weight bearings and run the length of the mezzanine.

Edge protection – A mezzanine floor will have at least one exposed edge from where the lower ground can be viewed. To ensure exposed edges are safe, edge protection in the form of steel hand rails are fitted and then panelled to close the gap between the floor and rail using glass, wired mesh or steel for example.

Staircases – Providing means of access, staircases are a crucial feature and although safety is prioritised, certain aspects such as material, colour, shape, infill type and positioning can be influenced by preferences.  In addition to mezzanine floors, WSL manufacture associated staircases, allowing for more flexibility when choosing specific styles.

Storage mezzanine staircase

In addition to the complete steel structure, decking is fitted to create a continual floor concealing the steel structure bellow.

Mezzanine floor decking options

Decking is available in various material types including particleboard, Steel plates and open steel griddles and is chosen in accordance to requirements to ensure individual needs are met in terms of:

Loading requirements – The weight of the activities carried out on the upper level will influence floor type suitability. Weight bearing per square metre for each decking type can vary from 1,000kg to 3,500kg upwards, with open steel being the strongest.

Traction control – Depending on the level of movement on the platform, none slip flooring is an effective feature in some operations. Adding textured tile to the particle board decking is a low cost solution to ensuring the floor has increased grip, however if a stronger decking type is required then steel plates which are textured with raised diamond shaped patterns would be an ideal solution.

Durability – Decking is at risk of strain under the pressure of activities on the platform which may cause it to deflect and vibrate. For heavy working platforms, open steel decking or steel plate is extremely robust and will hold strength under the strain of heavy activities.

Infographic explaining different decking options and suitability

 

What other features does a mezzanine floor have?

For some operations, additional features are required and these include:

  • Mezzanine access features

Passenger/goods lifts – A passenger lift will ensure disabled access is available, or is often implemented as an additional form of access, particularly if the mezzanine is multi tiered. The goods lift is ideal if there’s a need to transport heavy loads between floors.

Goods chutes – Move singular or boxed items from upper to lower level quickly using a chute which is a popular solution for high speed operations.

Pallet gate – Placing a pallet onto the mezzanine level using a fork lift truck is made easy and safe using a pallet gate which ensures exposed edges and the surrounding area is made safe during the process. These can be designed and manufactured by WSL to accommodate your pallet sizes.

Conveyors – Ideal for continual processes in which items are constantly on the go travelling between the floors. A conveyor saves time and money by reducing the need for labour.

  • Mezzanine safety features

Fire rating – Under UK Building Regulations, fire rating is required where people will be either working on or visiting the mezzanine level, or on mezzanines that stretch beyond ten metres in any direction. The fire rated mezzanine is fitted with additional tiles, panels and fascia’s covering the underside, columns and exposed edges. Fire rating protects the mezzanine structure for up to an hour against flames, heat and smoke to enable time for evacuation and emergency assistance.

Floor markings – In busy operations where there may be machinery in operation or moving handling equipment, floor markings will help guide pedestrians safely as they travel on the mezzanine level.

Lighting – A poorly lit mezzanine level can cause imbalance and poor visibility, therefore adequate lighting should be installed.

Heating and air conditioning – Ensuring good air quality and temperature through adequate heating and air-conditioning systems is essential for ensuring the mezzanine feels comfortable to either work on or visit.

  • Mezzanine decorative and organisational features

Room partitioning – Available in a number of different materials, partition walls are used to divide the mezzanine platform into a number of different sections. This could be to help segregate different departments and facilities such as offices, meeting rooms, WC’s and kitchen areas.

Storage systems – A storage mezzanine floor can be used to accommodate all types of storage systems including pallet racking and shelving so you can organise your inventory whilst making great use out of the new space.

Mezzanine floor with two lifts supporting a multi tier picking system inclusive of mezzanine levels, pallet racking and shelving

Furniture and décor – Everything from office furniture, kitchen fit out and appliances, colour scheme and other decorative features can be implemented with the ability to choose your preferred style.

How could my business benefit from a mezzanine floor?

Within industrial and commercial facilities a mezzanine floor can be used to support business operations in countless ways resulting in productivity gains, cost savings and effective performance.

Let’s take a closer look at how the mezzanine floor could benefit your operation:

Productivity gains are a result of more usable space in which the business can grow. With more floor surface area additional departments can be introduced or existing ones can expand whether that’s to accommodate more employees, more machines or more storage systems.

Cost savings made from a mezzanine floor installation come from acquiring more usable space without the cost of relocating the business or expanding the premises. Although it’s a strong investment, the return will be seen as the new space allows for increased productivity which will enhance profitability.

Effective performance will be notable once the new space is in use, with more effective ways to operate. Whether there’s more workspace for office staff or increased production areas, a mezzanine floor can take a disorganised operation and help streamline it.

What functions can a mezzanine floor support?

Common uses for a mezzanine floor in commercial and industrial settings areas follows:

Offices – Whatever the nature of the business, implementing office space within an already limited main works area means operational activities will have less functional space resulting in productivity being compromised.  The mezzanine platform provides office staff with a space to work above the main operation leaving the area virtually unaffected. A well as offices, the mezzanine can provide other staff spaces including dining, meeting, resting and WC areas.

office mezzanine with staircase

Storage use – A warehouse mezzanine used for storage is an extremely viable solution because storage capacity can be doubled or even trebled without the building itself being affected. In a facility dealing with increased inventory levels, the storage mezzanine is an ideal solution.

Mutli tier warehouse mezzanine floor

Production – Manufacturing requires numerous people and machinery and is a process that requires sufficient space which is why the production mezzanine floor is a solution growing rapidly in popularity. The mezzanine level provides crucial space in which manufacturers can expand their operation, allowing the business to grow without outgrowing the premises.

Retail use – Retail parks today don’t tend to include floor levels when being designed and built. Instead retailers have the opportunity once they take occupancy, to add a mezzanine floor level increasing usable space whilst matching their individual needs and preferences. Retail mezzanines allow for expansion and creativity with a wide range of ancillaries and accessories available to help create the desired theme.

A fire rated retail mezzanine floor

Gym and leisure – Mezzanines have been the saviour for many in this industry after being hit hard by the pandemic. The gym mezzanine has enabled more space to be created, allowing members to work out at a safe distance from one another whilst operating at substantial capacity. The gym spaces WSL has created by implementing a mezzanine floor accommodate equipment, work out rooms, additional WCs and changing rooms.

Hospitality use – A mezzanine floor in a restaurant, bar or hotel not only creates more space but can also add a touch of elegance with a balcony style area which overlooks the lower ground area. This gives the establishment an open and light feel and as social distancing is still prominent in every day life, customers feel safe whilst visiting so are likely to stay longer and return.

Infographic explaining the benefits of a mezzanine floor

Infographic second page - benefits of a mezzanine floor

 

It is essential to plan how the mezzanine floor will be used early in the design process to ensure it is created with the correct weight load bearing, decking type, ancillaries and access features. Weight load bearing is a crucial safety element as the mezzanine floor will be unsafe to use if activities exceed the deigned loading. As an example a mezzanine floor designed for office use will have a lighter weight load bearing than that of a storage mezzanine floor.

Are mezzanine floors safe?

Apprehensions about safety are perfectly understandable so here’s how to gain reassurance when sourcing your mezzanine floor:

  • Look out for the UKCA Marking

A mezzanine floor manufactured in the UK should carry the UKCA certification to indicate the structure is both safety and quality assured. When sourcing your mezzanine floor, always ask whether the structure will be UKCA Marked.

The accreditation replaced the CE Marking in January 2021 which has been a legal requirement under EU legislation’s since 2014. The UKCA certification is regulated under UK legislation’s that equalises those previously required under the EU. For a British manufacturer to gain this accreditation they must undergo rigorous annual audits to ensure quality and safety standards governed by UK laws are adhered to.

As a British manufacture of mezzanine floors ourselves, WSL is proud to be a holder if UKCA certification having been accredited to CE Marking since it came into force in 2014. Once a year our factory is assessed and our workmanship audited by legal bodies under UK legislation. Every assessment and audit undertaken has resulted in our continual accreditation.

Safety and quality is our passion as well as meeting the specified needs of each individual client which is why WSL began to manufacture mezzanine floors in-house. This allowed us to break away from the supply only framework, increase flexibility and ensure the needs of every individual project can be met.

The UKCA Marking LOGO

 

  • Ensure the project is managed in accordance to CDM 2015

During both the design and construction stage of the mezzanine floor project, health and safety must be administered and overseen. As the individual responsible for the project, you also have the burden of ensuring a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor is appointed. This is to ensure health and safety is prioritised and the wellbeing of everyone involved is managed effectively.

To alleviate you of that responsibility, the WSL design and contract team can take this role by using their competency and proficiency in CDM 2015. Our team will direct and monitor all health and safety aspects of the project, so you can dedicate your time to other important things.

  • Target the Full SEMA Membership certification

SEMA is the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association of which many suppliers are associated. Full SEMA Membership however, reflects a significant amount of dedication to ensuring quality and safety remains continuously at peak levels. As one of the few British mezzanine floor manufacturers to obtain Full SEMA Membership, and the first to gain membership whilst holding the CE/UKCA certification quality and safety is guaranteed by WSL. Our membership alongside our other accreditation’s represents our commitment to you as your solutions provider and manufacturer. Not only do we strive to ensure the highest quality and safety standards, we contribute to the settings of those standards.

SEMA Full Member Accreditation Logo

Is a mezzanine floor expensive?

When sourced carefully a mezzanine floor is extremely cost effective. In comparison to moving the business to new premises or extending the footprint of the existing building, a mezzanine floor is by far, a less costly solution. That being said, it’s crucial to ensure the mezzanine design meets all of your operational requirements, as a poorly designed structure will only cost you more in the long run.

As an industry leader with over thirty years of experience, WSL uses the intensity of our knowledge and expertise to ensure a solution that will meet all of your requirements both essential and preferable, but we don’t stop there. On designing your mezzanine floor solution we ensure a structure that will maximise space usage so effectively that you will later see a return on your initial investment. As mentioned above, the additional floor space will result in productivity gains, cost savings and effective performance and we ensure this by learning everything we can about your operational needs through a much tailored service.

Should I source my mezzanine floor locally?

Quality and safety should be the highest priority when sourcing a mezzanine floor, therefore trust in your provider should take priority. As a trusted provider ourselves, WSL have a strong customer base which spans across the UK with active projects in every corner. We come to you, wherever you are in the UK and from our Leeds based factory, your mezzanine will be delivered directly too you and installed by our professional installations team.

Does a mezzanine floor project require planning permission?

In relation to the floor itself, there is no requirement to submit a planning application however it’s important to know that planning permission is required for related works that will impact the external structure; if you were to create a new external doorway for example.

How can I be sure that my mezzanine floor meets the required building regulations?

UK Building Regulations are in place to ensure long lasting safety of structural projects. From the initial design to completion, UK Building Regulating Officers should have a degree of involvement in your project. Initially the Officers will oversee plans to ensure they meet building and fire safety regulations under UK legislation before inspecting the final product before it can be signed of as complete.

At WSL we work alongside UK Building Regulating Officers throughout the project, making arrangements for them to oversee and visit the site so you don’t have any additional worries. Documentation outlining safety approval signed by the Regulating officer will be handed to you for safe keeping.

What does a mezzanine floor design involve?

To create a visualised plan of your mezzanine floor, at WSL we use a computerised drafting system. The software allows us as the designer and yourself as the project owner to see how the mezzanine floor will look within the four walls of your premises and how it would work for you. Included in the plans are the mezzanine structure, how it is positioned, where the columns will be positioned, the staircases, edge protection, additional fixings and where all of this stands on relation to fire exits and other structural fixtures within the building. But before all of that our designer who will draw your mezzanine floor solution will visit the site in person where an assessment of the space will be carried out and measurements can be taken. Another aim during the visit is for the designer to take time to listen to your business requirements and to get a real understanding of your operational needs. This allows our designer to create a solution that matches all of your exact needs.

Mezzanine floor computerised design

How is a mezzanine floor manufactured?

Once approved, the plans are passed to our in-house factory where our engineers begin the manufacturing process, fabricating the component parts to the inflexible BS5950-1:2000 standards which go alongside BS EN 1993-1-3 and UK National Annexes for cold rolled sections.

Using raw material sourced competitively with quality assurance, our in-house manufacturing service provide cost benefits on top of quality, safety and flexibility.

Our qualified and experienced fabricators prime the material by cutting, piercing and welding the parts in accordance the specified model, before an inspection is carried out. The parts, once through inspection are prepped for transportation to site.

Meanwhile your dedicated Project Manager will contact you to introduce him or herself, keep you informed of progress and will make all necessary arrangements for installation which he or she will manage and oversee.

mezzanine floor manufacturing welding image

How is a mezzanine floor constructed?

Mezzanine floor construction is a straightforward process when carried out professionally by experienced installers. From the moment the parts arrive on site your WSL installation team will be there to meet the HGV and begin offloading the parts. A fork lift truck will be required to transport the parts and a scissor lift to assist the installers as they work at height. The hiring such equipment needed will be organised in advance by your Project Manager.

Our installation team work together, ensuring safety whilst the large heavy steel parts are being moved, handled and positioned. Within their supportive environment, our team work effectively with professionalism, friendliness and approach-ability so you can ask anything you need to at any point.

Keeping the site tidy as they go along, there will be no mess for you to deal with and on completion, any left over debris or packaging along with hired equipment will be removed from site.

Mezzanine floor being installed with purlins being fitted

How is mezzanine floor quality and safety maintained?

Qualified Inspections

WSL offer periodic inspection that will pinpoint any weaknesses or unnoticeable damage both of which can be caused by frequent knocks, bumps or general wear and tear. A mezzanine floor inspection is carried out using the extensive knowledge and experience of our inspectors during which every element of the mezzanine is thoroughly assessed. On completion a report will be written and sent o you highlighting any areas where action is required as well as any advisories. If immediate threats to health and safety are found during the inspection, this will be flagged up there and then, so the area can be sectioned until repaired.

Internal Safety Assessments

In addition to the qualified inspections, an internal assessment carried out by your team is also an option if your looking to ensure safety is continually reviewed between inspections. Trained by our qualified inspectors, your team can learn how to undertake basic routine inspections with appropriate actions as part of their operational duties.

Display Weight Load Notices

Loading a mezzanine beyond its designed maximum bearing is highly dangerous. Quick referral weight load notices will help prevent accidental overloading.

Mezzanine floor weight load notice

 

Can I later change how I use my mezzanine floor?

The only time a mezzanine floor can be utilised for new purposes is if the weight load bearing can adequately support the new function. A mezzanine floor designed and built to accommodate office space would be unsuitable for production use where heavy machinery will be used, unless the structure was originally designed to accommodate this potential change. Before adopting a new use for a mezzanine floor we strongly suggest you seek expert advice to ensure the change would be safe. Original mezzanine floor documentation would also be required which is why it’s important to keep those in a safe place.

 

Learn more about mezzanine floors from our expert team

Every mezzanine floor is different because every requirement is unique. To discuss your specific needs and to discover your potential mezzanine floor solution, contact WSL today on 0113 2045350 or email sales@wslmail.co.uk to arrange a free site survey.

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