Say the word “mezzanine” and you could get reactions ranging from those who sit in the “mezzanine section” (forward balcony) of their local theater, fans enjoying the sounds of the British rock group “Mezzanine,” to those of us looking to add additional storage space in our facility.
Mezzanines became very popular in the mid 1940's as the manufacturing was ramping up after the war. These steel structures were typically a “partial story between two main stories of a building.” In other words, they were identified above the main floor and below the roof of existing buildings in order to store goods.
Today, mezzanines are used primarily for storage, but continue to pick up pace as “work platforms” in plants. When considering adding a second floor to your facility, proper planning up front regarding you current and future needs will result in the right solution, and the right price.
Here are some items you should familiarize yourself with:
o Span: Is column placement important? Twenty feet is a good rule of thumb.
o Deflection: Also known as the horizontal sway or vertical “bounce” of the mezzanine- this is important to understand when shopping.
o Flexibility: Do you require a standard design or custom? Free Standing or Rack / shelf supported?
o Seismic: Are you in a seismic zone? Most mezzanine applications are non-seismic but your provider can indicate if you are in an area that requires a seismic mezzanine.
o International Building Code (IBC): Most common code you must adhere to today.
o Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Provide some of your “bare bones” approach.
Permits and Certification
o Most municipalities require one. Many inspectors not aware of rules so ask a mezzanine expert for help regarding this.
o Usually the height of a mezzanine is either “clear underneath” or “top of deck.” Watch the “clear height” number, some manufactures use knee bracing which interferes with the clear height in the corners.
o Loads: Will you be using this for general storage or for special equipment? Weight and footprint are important to consider.
o Deck Surfaces: These vary from plywood to specialized decking. It is important to understand ramifications of deck as it applies to lighting and sprinkling underneath. Get to know the benefits and drawbacks of “B” deck, plywood, Resindek, steel flooring, bar grate, etc.
o Interfacing: Will it interface with other equipment such as conveyors, etc?
o Stairs and Railings: Do these accessories need to be placed inside the mezzanine or outside? Will you need walls around it or will you need railroads? Is a platform needed? Is there an intermediate needed due to length? Do you desire treads, open or closed?
o Gates: Do you prefer a slide gate, a swing gate, or a pivot gate for safety?
o Will the area be free and clear of other material, or will installer need to work around existing product?
o Do you have a forklift available?
o Is proper lighting available during the installation?
o Union or non-union crews?
These are items that will need to be discussed with your mezzanine provider prior to purchase. If shopping around for a suitable manufacturer / dealer, make sure you understand the differences between the choices mentioned above.