With Brexit concerns spiking demand for extra storage space, one easy solution could be mezzanine floors but what are the considerations if planning to go down that route? A first consideration is often the disruption element during installation but being free standing, with all parts made offsite, the mezzanines can be installed around the existing workforce with minimal disruption. And once up, there need be no concern about impeding forklift movement below because the floor can be designed to allow good access for truck movements.

Load bearing is another frequently asked question. Most commonly, spans tend to be 6 mt by 5mt with a 500 kg/m2 load rating but bigger spans and heavier load capacities are available. The nature of the work intended for the mezzanine floor will dictate the floor materials. If considering pedestrian order picking functions only then a typical choice is P5 or P6 38 mm chipboard. However, there would be advantages if choosing instead Egger UK’s 30 mm OSB HDX which is wider, lighter and stronger than conventional 38mm boards as well as having higher load points. Other advantages include savings on installation time and on fewer materials. Tongued and grooved, both sides are fully sanded, making it less prone to wear and tear. If needing to use pedestrian pallet trucks then alternative metal cladding sheets are available to cope with high wheel point loads.

Concerns that noise, temperature, dirt and dust from the space below can be allayed if one uses the Cassette system, a pre-manufactured, flexible, metal partition system to protect workers from such irritations. All Cassette systems can be made hanging from the ceiling or integrated with the mezzanine installations.

Fire regulations may or may not apply, depending on the size of the installation and its intended use. A small mezzanine intended for storage only and is less than 20 mt long and covers less than 50% of the overall floor area may not need to be fire rated, but larger floors, or those with offices on them, will need to be fire rated with a minimum fire rating of 60 minutes.

There is a choice of access methods, the most common being a staircase. Where goods transfer is needed between floors then a variety of lifts, chutes and conveyors is available. Additionally, some companies use forklifts to transfer loads between floors. Given that the nature of business often changes, one concern could be reconfiguration or re-siting. A mezzanine’s lightweight steel means it can be demounted, resited, re-used and re-purposed.

Planning permission is another early concern in any negotiations. In the UK, recent changes meant that it was necessary to obtain permission for a single mezzanine floor of 200 mt2 or more but there is some confusion so your local installer should be consulted. The restriction, for example, only applies in some locations and in certain situations.

While mezzanine floors may be less affected than ground floors by dirt and debris that does not mean good housekeeping should not be applied to keep floors tidy and safe. It may be that the floors should be specially coated, depending on items stored, and so advice should be sought from leading floor cleaning companies on the most appropriate actions.

BILL REDMOND

Features Editor