Making an uninvited appearance through your downstairs neighbor’s ceiling is the last thing you want to think of when you’re deciding on which antique furniture set to get.
Having concerns about the second floor’s capability to hold weight is quite common for someone thinking of getting new furniture or doing an interior makeover.
Read ahead to learn everything you need to know about how much weight your second floor can support as well as proper furniture placement to help you avoid any potential accidents.
How much weight can a second-floor hold?
The second floor can generally handle a maximum live load of up to 40 lbs. per square foot whereas designated bedrooms are designed to support up to 30 lbs. The concentrated load is limited to 300 lbs. and the amount of overall weight your second floor can hold will vary based on the floor area.
Live load is the total weight of everything on the second floor excluding the weight of the structure and construction materials. This includes all the furniture, people, electronics, etc.
On the other hand, the weight of the structure itself and the permanent attachments such as plumbing, and HVAC is considered dead load and taken into consideration during construction to avoid any structural mishaps.
So, if your second floor has a total area of 1000 square feet, the amount of live load that it can support up to is:
1000 x 40 = 40,000lbs
Alternatively, 100-square-foot bedroom on the second floor would be able to support up to:
100 x 30 = 30,000lbs
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just stack ten 300-pound anvils in the middle of your bedroom. The weight needs to be distributed evenly across the total area. The concentrated load limit for one spot is 300 lbs. across all second-floor rooms.
What happens when you put heavy furniture on a second floor?
Most of the modern buildings today follow the guidelines set by the international residential code as their construction standard. So, most second floors in apartments are typically capable of supporting heavy furniture without issue.
However, if these heavy objects aren’t properly placed, it can lead to the deterioration of the overall structural integrity of the floor as well as the building itself.
We’ve outlined a few issues that you might face if you inappropriately place heavy furniture on the second floor.
Excess Weight in One Spot:
Excessive stress on one particular spot is one of the most common issues while placing a piece of heavy furniture on the second floor. This usually occurs with furniture that is made out of solid wood such as oak.
If a piece of furniture’s weight isn’t properly distributed across the floor, it can lead to the floor becoming soft or saggy due to structural weakness. This is why heavy furniture should always be kept close to a wall or somewhere with multiple joists.
Reduced Structural Integrity:
Irregular distribution of weight due to the wrong placement of heavy furniture reduces the overall structural integrity of the floor and building. This generally occurs due to excess pressure on one or more beams and joists that hold up the floor.
Over time, this lack of structural integrity can lead to expensive repairs or even accidents.
Misplaced heavy objects can also make floors become uneven and slanted. Floors usually tend to settle over time with the building. But if heavy furniture isn’t properly placed, the diminished structural integrity can lead to the floor tilting in one direction.
Cracks or Bulges in Walls:
Another issue you might run into if you put heavy furniture on the second floor is cracks or bulges in the first-floor walls. The excess pressure from the furniture above places an additional strain on the lower floor walls that causes them to deform over time.
What can I put on the second floor of my house?
As we mentioned previously, what you can and can’t place on the second floor of your house depends on the floor area and the structure.
With a bit of mindful planning, you can place almost any number of things on the second floor without compromising structural integrity. These include:
Furniture that’s longer than it is wide is extremely suitable for the second floor. This is because longer furniture can be placed over multiple joists and beams, so the overall weight is evenly distributed across all of them.
Long bookshelves or closets are perfect examples of such furniture.
You can also safely put your electronics on the second floor of your house. Heavy electronics such as refrigerators or washing machines can be placed anywhere as long as it’s close to a wall without any complication.
Putting a bathtub on your second floor is also something you might consider. Bathtubs can be quite heavy when filled but your second floor should have no issues holding that weight since bathrooms are usually built to support heavy loads.
How to make the second floor capable of supporting heavy furniture?
When putting a piece of heavy furniture on the second floor, the main thing you need to look for is placement.
There are a number of things that you can do to make your second-floor capable of supporting heavy furniture properly. We’ve compiled a list to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Proper Weight Distribution:
Proper weight distribution is the most crucial part when placing furniture on the second floor of your house. You typically want the weight evenly spread across multiple joists and support beams if possible.
Place The Furniture Near the Walls:
When choosing a spot for heavy furniture, the best position is one close to the wall. This is usually where your floors can provide the furniture maximum support.
Avoid the Middle:
If you’re placing heavy furniture on the second floor, avoid putting it in the middle of the room since it usually has the least support.
Always perpendicular to the Joist:
Always position your furniture perpendicular to the joist, instead of parallelly. This way the furniture is supported by multiple joists instead of just one.
Reinforce the Structure:
Last but not least, reinforcing the structure with additional joists and beams as well as load-bearing walls can significantly increase the amount of weight your second floor can support.
This is a sure-proof way of making your second-floor capable of supporting any heavy object, albeit a bit costly.
Is it possible that too much weight can make a second-floor collapse?
It is certainly possible for a second floor to collapse due to excess weight. The floor is only going to be as strong as the overall weight spread across the entire area.
So, if weight isn’t distributed evenly across the surface, it can significantly increase the chances of an imminent collapse.
How do you know if your second floor is going to collapse?
Luckily, there are a few signs and symptoms that you can look out for if the second floor is close to collapsing. Some of these include:
- The walls become uneven or warped.
- Floors becoming slanted.
- Saggy or bouncy floors.
- The paint starting to crack.
- Windows, stairs, and doors out of level.
- Excess water or snow on the roof.
Is it safe to build a home gym on the second floor?
It is perfectly safe to build a home gym on the second floor of your building as long as you take the necessary precautions.
Indoor gyms are becoming more and more popular nowadays and your second floor is quite capable of handling the weight of most gym equipment.
However, the primary concern when putting exercise equipment on the second floor is not the weight but the placement instead.
Calculate the total weight of your exercise equipment to find out if it’s appropriate for the second-floor room and place them somewhere with proper support.
Is a 750-pound safe on the second floor too heavy?
Whether or not a 750-pound safe is too heavy for your second floor depends on a number of factors. Among these are,
- The footprint of the safe
- Nearby joists and support beams
- Placement to the wall
If the footprint of the safe itself can be properly supported by multiple joists and beams and placed near the wall, you’re likely to not face any issues. However, bear in mind that this can vary massively from one structure to another.
In summary, the average weight a second floor can hold per square foot is 30 lbs. for designated bedrooms and 40 lbs. for all other rooms. In order to calculate the total weight your second-hand floor can hold; you have to multiply the total area by this number.
The information presented in this article is by no means professional advice. The amount of weight supported by the second floor of a building depends on various factors. We recommend consulting with a structural engineer if you’re unsure about anything.