A Guide to Raised Access Floor Systems

By Frederick Tartt posted 11-08-2020 05:53 PM


Access floor systems, also known as raised access floor systems, are raised structural floors placed on reinforced concrete slabs. These floors consist of several panels installed on several vertical, yet adjustable pedestals fixed onto the concrete slabs using mechanical adhesives or anchors. As the pedestals can be adjusted, the gap between the “elevated floor” and reinforced concrete can vary between 7.62 centimeters (3 inches) and 121.92 centimeters (48 inches). In extreme cases, such as large data centers, raised access flooring can be even higher, reaching 6 feet to 10 feet high.

Raised access floor system panels are made of a cement or wood core clad in steel or aluminum that measures 60.96 cm X 60.96 cm. It’s worth noting that these panels are all compatible with different types of flooring finishes such as stone, rubber, carpet, ceramic tiles, linoleum, vinyl, and laminate.

A newer type of access floor is “cable management access flooring” which is often low-profile and does not require the removal of panels to access wires and cables. These systems can be made of high strength polypropylene, metal, or a combination of both.

Access Floor System Benefits:

  • Raised floor systems make wiring routing across floors easy.
  • The floor system helps lower construction costs in high seismic regions.
  • Cooling and heating buildings is more efficient with elevated floor systems as they serve as high heat mass base materials for radiant heat systems.
  • Another benefit associated with raised access floor systems is that they offer acoustic isolation.
  • Raised floor systems help suppress fire from floor to floor and can be waterproof.
  • The concrete surface of an elevated floor system can be given a final flooring finish through either factory stamping, staining, sealing, or polishing. You can save more money since there is no need to cover high traffic areas.
  • In areas susceptible to high winds, elevated access floors can improve lateral resistance and strengthen multi-story buildings, especially when combined with concrete roofing systems.
  • Access floor systems are also perfect for use in computer rooms prone to overheating.

Other benefits of using access floor systems in computer rooms include:

Easier Maintenance

Since most server rooms are jam packed with arrays of complex server systems, maintaining servers can be an uphill task, especially if the servers aren’t well organized. Raised access floor systems can help bring order as they make it easier to keep a server room organized. With easily-accessible access ports and properly laid cabling, maintaining computers in your organization becomes easier and more convenient for your technical staff and supervisors.

Helps Address Overheating

The primary purpose of a raised access floor system is to ensure that your computers and servers are not disposed to overheating, a problem that could result in server maintenance issues like hardware failure and service disruptions. Since computers and servers are best cooled from the bottom, elevated floor systems make it possible for organizations to set up cooling systems under server arrays in a way that takes advantage of the natural tendency of heat to rise upwards.

Disaster Recovery Plans

A lot of server tower storage options out there don’t have a disaster recovery plan. The good thing is that most of the newer raised access floor designs have a disaster recovery plan incorporated in them. And apart from being secure, they can also serve as an alternative power source. If a disaster like a critical power failure happens, the backup power source can help keep the servers functioning and cooled. This can help preserve the integrity of your data, even during emergencies.

Apart from computer room applications, raised access floor systems are also suitable for use in exhibit spaces, clean rooms, training and conference areas, general open office areas, and support spaces for offices. With the advent of low-profile, cable management access flooring, nearly any building type can benefit from the use of these floors: libraries, command centers, retail stores, industrial facilities, multi-purpose rooms and more.