How Much Weight Can a Floor Support?

This is a common question asked by facility managers when contemplating a new file system or a heavy equipment addition.


Can your office floor handle the addition of a large filing system?


For example, a properly designed office floor can support 50 pounds per square foot. This may seem light, but this is 50 pounds over each and every square foot of floor space.

It does not mean that a 300 lb. lineman standing on one leg will fall through the floor.

A uniform load rating on a beam can easily be translated into what an equivalent maximum point load can be.

For example, a floor joist at 16” spacing’s that can carry 53 pounds per linear foot would translate into a 318 pound single point load at its center.

Location and configuration of heavy loads should be looked at on a case by case basis. For especially heavy loads it is recommended to have a structural engineer research the floor framing sizes and layout.

There may be workable solutions that will not require expensive modifications to the structure. These solutions could include: Spreading the heavy load over more than one floor joist. Strategically locating the load near the end of a joist.

Careful assessment of the end connections would be advised though. Limiting the loading on the remaining areas of the floor.  Another consideration to keep in mind is the effect of the heavy load on additional deflection.

Even though the additional deflection may be within code limits, the impression of stability to the occupants must also be a consideration. Understanding the structural limitations of floor systems is just one of the ways ADS Engineering can help is assessing existing buildings. To see some other ways ADS can help, check out our website @

Thanks for reading!

Written by David Simpson, P.E., SECB, MBA, President, Principal Engineer

dave-simpson2David Simpson’s experience includes over 30 years in structural design and project management for industrial, commercial, institutional and nuclear/chemical facilities utilizing steel, concrete, masonry and wood. His accomplishments include design and construction administration of health care facilities, hotels, schools, shopping centers, aircraft hangars, numerous retail facilities and several forensic engineering assignments. He has professional registrations in D.C., Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Simpson graduated from the West Virginia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an MBA from West Virginia University.