Answer Capacity Questions Before Building a Warehouse Mezzanine System

When growth outpaces available space, expansion is often on the mind. But, in today’s tight real estate market, options for physical expansion are limited and often expensive.

This is exactly when adding a warehouse mezzanine system becomes an excellent solution. A mezzanine can offer additional space within the existing footprint of a warehouse, but it requires careful and informed planning.

Understanding the specifics of your needs and the limitations of your current space is crucial before proceeding with any type of installation. You can’t go down to the local mezzanine store and pick one the same way you buy a car.

So, when it comes to warehouse mezzanine capacity, what do you need to know?

Understanding Mezzanine Use

Before we begin, it’s critical that you know and understand how you intend to use the mezzanine. Ask yourself and your team: what’s the planned use for this mezzanine? There’s a huge difference between using a mezzanine for more office space and light storage and using it for heavy manufacturing or storing three-ton parts.

Each use case comes with its own set of requirements and challenges. It’s vital to understand these distinctions as they directly impact the capacity and design of the mezzanine.

Here are a few more use cases to help you better understand how a mezzanine might integrate into your business:

  • Employee areas
  • Production space
  • Picking and packing zones 
  • Equipment or machinery platforms

Each one of these use cases will demand different capacities, so it’s essential that you start here first. Failing to do so can lead to inadequate or overbuilt structures that don’t align with your operational needs.

How to Calculate Mezzanine Load Capacity

Capacity is about weight, but that’s not all.

It’s how that weight is distributed across a platform. That’s why it would be so difficult to build a functioning mezzanine load capacity calculator. The capacity requirements for a mezzanine vary based on how the mezzanine is used and even the type of mezzanine you need.

The International Building Code provides general capacity guidelines measured in pounds per square foot (psf):

  • 60 psf (elevated platforms/offices)
  • 125 psf (storage warehouse – light/light manufacturing)
  • 250 psf (storage warehouse – heavy/heavy manufacturing)

Keep in mind that these numbers only provide a basic framework and should be tailored to your specific needs and uses. If you have any questions about this process, it’s best to get in touch with experienced mezzanine builders and installers, like the team here at East Coast Storage Equipment.

Structural Foundations

The success of a warehouse mezzanine system installation relies heavily on the equipment’s foundation. Typically, a warehouse floor slab, which is about six to eight inches thick, provides the base for the mezzanine.

This thickness generally supports about 25,000 lbs, adequate for most mezzanine types and applications.

However, the actual capacity depends significantly on the quality of the soil beneath the slab. For instance, sandy soil or areas with a high water table might necessitate additional support to bear the load.

For extra support, concrete footings are a common solution. Here, holes are cut through the existing slab, unstable soil is removed, and then concrete is poured in to replace the hole. The mezzanine’s columns will rest on these new footings and make sure that the structure is adequately supported.

This can be an expensive process and time-consuming, but it’s crucial for the long-term stability and safety of the structure.

You should always consult a building architect or engineer and confirm the slab is capable of supporting the increased load. An engineer will determine the concrete footing needed. That person will also have the final say and guarantee the mezzanine is rated for the required capacity. 

Alternatively, a less expensive option to concrete footings is designing the mezzanine columns closer together. This reduces column load while providing the necessary support.


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Determining Mezzanine Size and Structure

Deciding on the dimensions of a mezzanine is an important step, one that will not only affect usable space but also structural requirements. An integral part of this process is deciding how many columns will support the structure and how they will be spaced.

For example, consider a 20′ x 20′ mezzanine supported by nine load-bearing columns placed at 10′ intervals, including one in the center. 

This setup would distribute the mezzanine’s uniform load across each column, with each one supporting around 12,500 lbs. Keep in mind that if you require more open space beneath the mezzanine, the column spacing might need adjustment. 

It’s important to remember that increasing the span between columns can decrease the uniform load each one can support.

The mezzanine’s size and column placement are critical in determining both the uniform load capacity and the point load capacity — the amount of weight that can be safely supported in a specific area of the mezzanine. A thorough understanding of these factors is crucial in designing a mezzanine that is both functional and safe.

Addressing Point Load Concerns

Understanding point loads and their impact is a critical aspect of mezzanine design and capacity planning. Point loads refer to concentrated weight in specific areas of the mezzanine rather than evenly distributed weight. These loads can significantly affect the structural integrity and safety of the mezzanine.

Some examples of point loads include:

  • Machinery
  • Pallets
  • Heavy equipment
  • Storage units

These concentrated weights can lead to things like deck damage due to strain or, in more severe cases, the structural failure of the mezzanine. When designing and planning for a mezzanine, it is essential to consider these point loads:

  • Assessing Point Load Capacity: Determine the maximum weight specific areas can support.
  • Reinforcement Needs: Reinforce areas expected to bear point loads.
  • Safety Margins: Include safety margins to account for unforeseen loads.
  • Regular Inspections: Schedule inspections, especially in areas prone to point loads.

Consult with the Mezzanine System Experts at ECSE

Investing in a warehouse mezzanine system adds additional vertical space and can enhance overall facility operations in many different ways. The key is understanding the capacity requirements. From assessing the structural foundations and understanding capacity requirements to addressing point load concerns, each step is crucial.

To make sure these capacity and space considerations are taken seriously, consult with the experts. Engaging with experts and considering every aspect of mezzanine usage ensures a safe, efficient, and sustainable addition to your warehouse space.

Get in touch with the East Coast Storage Equipment team to learn more about your mezzanine options.


Zara Sodeman
March 15, 2019

Thanks for having this article, it helps a lot. It’s a well-written blog and it is very informative. Keep on blogging, looking forward to see more of your posts!

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