A raised access floor provides the perfect solution to the problem of housing the many services associated with modern communications technology. It conceals all cabling while allowing easy access for maintenance or changes and the floor void can also be used as a plenum for air distribution.

It provides maximum flexibility and, therefore, the facility to design the floor layout to suit the needs of the modern office for existing and new tenants.

These benefits are equally applicable for retail, exhibition and education space, computer rooms, control rooms, laboratories, clean rooms and other applications.

In South Africa there are five different access floor systems currently available and, to keep architects, facility managers and developers up to date with what performance can be expected from each, FLOORS in Africa devised a questionnaire asking the following pertinent questions:

The responses are shown below, with company and trade names omitted.

Is this product locally made or imported?
Type A
The entire pre-galvanised steel substructure is manufactured locally. The floor panels are imported.
Types B & C
Part of the system is imported, but the majority of the components are manufactured locally.
Type D
All imported.
Type E
The understructure is manufactured locally; panels are imported.

To what manufacturing standards and testing procedures does it comply?
Type A
The factory complies and has been certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 for quality and environmental management systems. The product has been fire tested and is classified “B” by the accredited authority; panels and beams have been load tested; and all panels are classified as Class 1 in accordance with ASTM E84 and NFPA 266.
Types B & C
SABS 1549:1993 and SANS 52825
Type D
EN 12825
Type E
Quality Systems ISO9001-2000; 14001; 19001

What does the panel construction consist of?
Type A
The panel construction is a 38mm thick high-density, wood-core, moisture-resistant particle board. It has a laminated aluminium backing, and an antistatic, extremely wear-resistant laminate finish. The laminate surface is direct-laminated, and has therefore no glue that may cause delamination.
Types B & C
Steel and cement; press-formed steel with a cementitious infill.
Type D
Steel and wood; galvanised steel, encapsulating an engineered, high-density E1 chipboard core (strengthened by high-performance thermosetting resins).
Type E
Cement-infill metal frame

What are the available sizes and the design loads of the panels?
Type A
The available sizes are 600 x 600mm, 600 x 400mm, 600 x 800mm, 600 x 500mm and 600 x 900mm, and the design of the substructure can allow the floor panels to take loads up to 40kN/m2.
Types B& C
Approximately 600 x 600mm with a design load in accordance with the SABS 1549 guidelines. Panels that exceed this are also available.
Type D
Approximately 600 x 600mm, with a design load in accordance with the EN 12825 guidelines.
Type E
Only one size offered: 600 x 600mm.

What overload protection is included in the design?
Type A
A 20% overload protection is included in the design.
Types B & C
Three times design load as per SABS requirement.
Type D
Two or three times design load (depending on the use of stringers) as per EN 12825 requirement.
Type E
No data

What floor finish options can you provide?
Type A
The available floor finishes are: non-laminate in order to receive a carpet tile; Granite non-directional colour pattern laminate; and an Alder wood-finish laminate.
Types B & C
Truly anti-static, high-pressure laminate; carpet; vinyl; and certain ceramics as well as various other coverings.
Type D
High-pressure laminate, carpet, vinyl as well as various other coverings.
Type E
Three different types of HPL (High-Pressure Laminates) offered (8138/8192/8119).

What are the minimum and maximum plenum depths you can provide?
Type A
Minimum plenum depth is 300mm; maximum 2 400mm.
Types B & C
50mm to 3 000mm
Type D
150mm to 600mm
Type E
100mm to 1 200mm

Do your panels resist air leakage from the plenum, and prevent dust and debris from entering it (particularly when airconditioning is involved)?
Type A
There is no air, dust or debris leakage from the plenum. Each panel weighs around 10kg.
Types B; C; and D
Yes, when used in conjunction with stringers.
Type E
No data

What do you do to counteract sound transmission through the floor? (In the room, or room to room?)
Type A
The panels are extremely dense and, due to the fact that they are manufactured from a high-density, wood-core particleboard, they have extremely good sound insulation.
Types B & C
Panels have a low airborne transmission of sound. Due to their construction (steel and cement), they block, to a large degree, transmission of sound.
Type D
37-43dB airborne sound insulation and 66-69dB impact sound insulation.
Type E
No data

Give brief details of how the installation takes place.
Type A
Initially the pedestals are fixed to the floor surface. Then the primary beams are fixed to the pedestals, and levelled; the secondary beams are then fitted to the primary beams. All the other trades can then come in and lay their services; thereafter we lay the panels.
Types B; C; and D
Understructure is placed in position and the panels are put in place, forming a floor with a void (plenum) underneath.
Type E
No data

Any unique features of your system, or anything else you would like to add?
Type A
This system claims several unique features, such as the high lateral stability created by the beam system, which means that all floor panels can be removed without the risk of the floor shifting. It also claims to cater for up to 25% more equipment on the same footprint compared to traditional pedestal floors, with up to 70% fewer pedestals.

Custom-size floor panels can optimise the room with any cabinet depths. Panels are therefore fully removable in the aisles; all equipment mounted on the floor can be bolted directly to the ISO floor structure; the all-bolted steel structure is sufficiently grounded with only two grounding wires attached at opposite corners of the floor.

The highly wear-resistant floor panels are direct-laminated to prevent delamination, and are highly resistant to harsh solvents and chemicals. The system is provided with a standard 5-year warranty to back up the product quality.

Type B
Flexibility; systems can be changed from freestanding to Snap-Loc stringers, and back, by merely adding or removing stringers on the same understructure heads.
Moisture resistance; Impervious to moisture.

Type C
Pricing; high-end quality product at a very affordable rate.
Moisture resistance; impervious to moisture.
Lightweight, long-span system; already used on a large installation to provide different levels of flooring inside and same room (i.e. an auditorium application).

Type D
Moisture resistance; unique quadruple fold along the edges of the encapsulating galvanised steel.

Type E
No data

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to the following for information contained in this article: www.theafa.com ; www.accessflooring.com ; Lance Bailey, Bergvik Flooring; Larry Shakinovsky, Pentafloor, Solidfeel & Woodcore; Ayanda Ndlovu, Lafarge.