how much weight can hardwood floors hold

How much weight can hardwood floors hold? This was one of the questions that ran through my mind, the day the floor at my friend’s house collapsed. 

Therefore, I decided to do my research and inquire from my club member, who was a structural engineer.

In doing this research I was able to figure out how much weight can my floor hold.

In determining the strength of a floor, there are a lot of factors to consider. 

We shall be looking at each of those factors. And how to calculate the weight of a floor.

I’m guessing that just like me, your curiosity has been sparked for one reason or the other.

Or you are looking to add new sets of furniture to your living area. Then read along.

According to the International Residential Code, the accepted weight for hardwood floors are 40 pounds per square foot for nonsleeping rooms and 30 lbs/sq.ft for sleeping rooms.

Can A Building Floor Collapse?

can floor collapse

Thanks to modern-day construction standards, the possibility of a floor collapsing due to excess weight is very slim.

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Needless to say, yes it is possible for a building floor to collapse from too much weight. 

This spans from the negligence of the house owner to taking note of the warning signs the floor gives when it is beyond weight capacity.

The most common warning sign is floor creaking

Although creaking does not necessarily mean that the floor is about to collapse as other factors can cause a floor to creak. It still is an important sign to consider.

Other signs include floor sagging, sloping, and discovering little wooden bits in the basements or the ground floor if it’s a duplex building.

Also, floor collapse can be caused by other factors.

Tip: Be observant and call for an inspector to clarify when you notice multiple signs.

Factors That Determine The Strength Of A Floor

floor strength factors

There are a few factors that determine the overall strength of a wooden floor. It is important we are aware of these factors.

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As they will guide us in determining how much weight we can place on our floor even without having to calculate. 

These factors include:

  1. Subfloor and Joist
  2. Thickness and quality of the wood
  3. How evenly distributed is the weight 

Subfloor And Joist

subfloor joist

The subfloor is foundation support for the main floor.

Depending on how well your subfloor is laid out, you can be guaranteed good support for your wood floor.

Also, the material used for the joist is a major factor to consider, is it plywood or plank?

Either way, it would help a lot for you to discover the material used in making the joist. 

You can seek the help of an inspector to help you figure out the material used in making the joist and the manner in which it was laid.

This way, you can decide how well you want to place heavy objects and furniture based on how the joist was laid.

Thickness And Quality Of The Wood

wood thickness quality

 The thickness and quality of the wood used for your flooring are another important factors in determining the strength of your floor.

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The thickness and quality will determine how much pressure the floor can withstand.

If good quality wood is used, you can be guaranteed a more solid floor and more strength to accommodate heavier loads.

How Evenly Distributed Is The Weight

weight distribution

Knowing the weight of your furniture and heavy objects is very important.

Also, knowing how the weight is distributed among your furniture will be helpful.

Some loads have their weights majorly on the bottom or some are to one side of the body.

If your heavy objects have their weights evenly distributed, this will reduce the amount of pressure coming from each of the objects.

What this means is that a floor that has evenly distributed weights would have a stronger hold and not a situation where there is more force on a side of the floor. 

Tip: For objects which have their major weights on the bottom, you can make use of floor cups and mats to reduce the pressure from them.

How Much Weight Can Hardwood Floors Hold?

hardwood floor weight

I recall asking my club mate; how many pounds per square foot can a floor hold. And he responded to me it depended on my floor type.

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As with most American homes, I also used hardwood for my flooring.

Hardwood is probably the most used type of flooring in the US. As it guarantees a solid feeling and durability.

By weights, I am referring to weights from live loads.

Live loads are regarded as loads such as humans, furniture, and every other object that are on the floor but are not permanent and can be moved at any time.

What Is IRC Accepted Weight For Hardwood?

irc weight hardwood

According to the International Residential Code, the accepted weight for hardwood floors are 40 pounds per square foot for nonsleeping rooms and 30 lbs/sq.ft for sleeping rooms.

What this means is that in rooms such as our parlor and kitchens, the maximum load per one square foot should be 40 pounds.

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While in places like our bedrooms, the maximum load per one square foot should be 30pounds. 

Although different contractors and builders have their own different calculations. This is the code mostly used by the majority of the local buildings in the US.

Also, do not forget to put into consideration the total length of the floor in your home.

Note: It is a factor to calculate and consider when calculating the overall weight of your floor.

How To Calculate The Overall Load Of A Floor

calculate floor load

As discussed above, your joist and subfloor determine a lot about your floor. Therefore in calculating the overall load your floor can carry.

You need to also know a lot about your joist. The type of material used, the size, and how it is laid.

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There are stamps on the joist, this will give you information about the joist. 

Using this information and a span table, you can calculate the joist size, the spacing between the joist, and the span across the room against the required strength values.

With these strength values, which are known as the Fb Value and E Value, you can calculate the highest pounds per square foot load a floor can carry.

Note: The average parlor in the US measures about 12×18 square feet with the Standard IRC of 40lbs/ sq.f we have 8,640lbs as the total weight the floor can carry.

How Much Weight Can A Mobile Home Floor Hold?

mobile home

Mobile homes are built with lightweight materials as compared to regular housing structures.

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Therefore the load capacity of a mobile home floor is not as much as the typical home floor.

Despite that, the maximum weight per square foot for a mobile home is still 40 pounds. And 100 pounds per square foot if it is used as an exterior wall surface.

Conclusion

I believe with this article, you have know how much weight hardwood floors can hold or at least have a major idea.

It’s important for a homeowner to know such information so as to maintain the house for years. This reduces the need to pay unexpected expenses. 

So I urge you, to find out the capacity of your hardwood and ensure you don’t go over the capacity, as that can cause you more than you can imagine. 

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Should you notice any signs of a weak floor, seek the help of a professional to inspect your floor.

Kristina Davis
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