Beginner Guide to Raised Access Flooring

July 17, 2019 | Access Flooring

In today’s connected society, which calls for a plethora of power, voice, and data equipment (that comes with lots of wires,cables, and connection points), an enterprise must secure a flexible, adaptive cable management system. In fact, if you want a workspace that’s adaptive enough to facilitate moves, adds, and changes, it’s paramount.

Should you plan to move to a new office, or desire to stay where you are, but need renovations–or just want the option to reconfigure your workplace whenever you want–a raised access floor cable distribution system will afford you the perfect opportunity to set-up your work space as needed in the most efficient ways.

When considering your new office configuration, don’t forget the importance of flooring systems. This is often overlooked.

You may be thinking all you have to do is rip out the outdated carpeting and replace it, but you have so many more options than that.

Consider low profile raised access flooring for your cable management needs. It can completely change your work area and offers more functionality from a floor than you could ever imagine.

What is Raised Access Flooring?

According to Wikipedia, “a raised floor provides an elevated structural floor above a solid substrate to create a hidden void for the passage of mechanical and electrical services.”

Also known as raised access flooring, access floor(ing), or raised access computer floor(ing), this type of floor is a construction model in which a slightly higher floor is constructed above the building’s original concrete slab floor that leaves an open space between the 2 floors for wiring, power, or cooling infrastructure.

Two things every business needs to plan for are: management of cables and air distribution. What are your needs? What are your goals?

Why Consider Raised Access Flooring?

There are many styles and solutions when it comes to raised access flooring. For example, a new data management center may need a resolution with the optimum amount of space between the floors for cables, power and airflow equipment, while a emergency operations center or courtroom may need a lower profile floor just to meet its wire management needs.

Regardless of your needs, raised access flooring has the following beneficial characteristics:

  • Moveable and customizable: Since some raised access flooring comes in modular sections, you can add or remove flooring according to your needs. If you expand into a larger work space, you may be able to take your existing flooring with you–needing only to purchase the additional sections your larger space requires. If you’re adding square footage to an existing office, obviously, this is more cost-effective than altering your entire floor plan. Also, the changes can be made quickly, adding to the cost-effectiveness.
  • Improves safety within your office: Workplace safety is always a priority. Raised access flooring conceals these troublesome cables under the floor and out of sight, eliminating tripping hazards and the need to work on a ladder to access wires in the ceiling.
  • Gives your office a cleaner, more professional look: Cables running along the floor, up posts or hanging from the ceiling are an eyesore. A cluttered, disorganized work space will be difficult for your employees to work efficiently in. Also, a messy office won’t impress visiting clients. Raised access flooring hides cables out of sight and promotes a clean, professional appearance to anyone who steps into the office.
    Open-floor office space is quite popular these days and is used by many Fortune 500 companies. A raised access cabling distribution system will help facilitate the reconfiguration of chairs and desks. Changes in this type of workspace require less time and are made with greater ease.
  • Gives you room to expand: It seems new technologies are introduced almost on a daily basis. Because of the need to keep up with these innovations, as well as business growth, at some point you’ll probably need more networking cables.
    A top-notch raised access flooring cable management system will provide a well-designed solution that’s thoughtfully planned and configured, so you don’t just have a jumbled mess under the floor. You can simply open the floor panels and run new cables as needed. You can expand or update your operation quickly and without paying for expensive renovations.
  • Helps you invest in growth and professionalism: If you plan to grow your business using the latest technology, a raised access flooring system will be an important component. A clean, well-organized office, with the latest technology brings in talented employees and keeps them happy–and clients will always be impressed.
  • Is cost-effective: Some raised access floor systems are NOT attached to the building. Therefore, should you decide to move to another building, you can take the flooring with you. Also, since non-attached flooring is considered to be office equipment, the system can be depreciated on your tax returns.

With many raised access flooring choices available, it’s important for you to educate yourself.

What Types of Raised Access Flooring is Available?

There are basically 2 types of raised access flooring:

  • Standard/traditional access floors: any raised floor that’s higher than 6 inches in height, but usually heights of 12 inches or more (can reach 6 feet or higher).
    Fifty years ago, when this product was new, the primary purpose of this type of flooring was air flow to support the cooling and airflow needs of large computer mainframes that ran exceptionally hot. Sticking cabling between the 2 floors was just an afterthought.
    If you have a need for air cooling your equipment or office through the floor, this is the product you need.
  • Low-profile access floors, flexible for cable management: any raised floor that’s lower than 6 inches in height. These floors allow for under-floor cable distribution management where air flow is not a concern (which is true of most workplaces these days). There are low profile options at only 1.6 inches or 2.75 inches that can equip any space and even whole buildings.

The traditional raised access flooring has the following characteristics:

  • Rugged and heavy duty
  • Designed primarily for cooling and air flow (not so much for cable management)
  • Access panels usually weigh 35+ pounds each and require a suction-like tool to lift them
  • Less flexible and less easy to use than lower profile raised access floors.
  • Can cause safety issues due to the height off the ground
  • Need to be serviced and maintained by contractors or highly-trained inside personnel

In contrast, low-profile raised access flooring:

  • System components are lightweight (but still meet strength requirements)
  • Takes up less ceiling height
  • Is easy for onsite personnel to maintain–and, for some, tools are not needed
  • Is safe

If you need to run a big chilled water line or forced air under your floor, then you probably will need traditional raised access flooring. However, if what you need is space and flexibility for electrical data and cables in an office space or a retail store, a low-profile raised access floor will fit the bill.

The next thing you need to know is: how is this low profile access flooring put together?