You have some concerns about how much weight your second-floor apartment can hold.
Is your bedroom set too heavy? What about setting up a home gym?
Before you start lugging heavy furniture and equipment upstairs, you want to know if the floor can support the weight.
How Much Weight Can a Second Floor Apartment Hold?
The International Residential Code guides most building construction across the United States. It ensures all buildings can support the same amount of weight.
Floors in designated bedrooms must support up to 30 lb. per square foot. Non-sleeping rooms have floors that can handle up to 40 lb. per square foot.
You don’t have to panic if you have a 50 lb. set of weights in your second-story living room. The floor isn’t going to collapse.
There is a simple calculation you can use to find the weight capacity for the entire room. Take the room’s total square footage and multiple it by the load capacity per square foot.
For example, if you have a 100-square-foot living room, the floor can support up to 4,000 pounds. Your 50 lb. weights aren’t a problem.
In bedrooms, the weight capacity drops to 3,000 lb. if the room measures 100 square feet.
Just because your floor can support 4,000 lb. doesn’t mean you want the weight in one area. You need to distribute the weight across the room evenly.
Otherwise, the flooring may buckle in.
Can a Second Floor Apartment Support a Home Gym
You can build a home gym in a second-floor apartment now that you know the room’s weight limit.
A few tricks will help maximize the amount of equipment you can safely install in the room.
Take Care of the Floors
You want to remove any carpeting from the floors.
Carpet and padding add a lot of weight. It is a good idea to check with the landlord or complex manager before pulling the carpet up.
Chances are you won’t have any problems, but you may need to sign an agreement holding you responsible for replacing the flooring.
After removing the carpet, cover the exposed floor with 3/4″ plywood.
It will help protect the floor and limit any repair charges you may get when you move out. Use wood screws to secure the new subfloor.
Not everyone has the time or resources to lay down subflooring, and this is okay. What you don’t want to forego are rubber mats.
The mats serve two purposes. They protect the exposed floor from your exercise equipment and minimize any noise your neighbors may hear.
Evenly Distribute the Weight
As you are setting up the room, you want to pay attention to a few things.
Place heavier pieces of equipment close to a wall. It is where floors can provide the most support.
Some second floors are supported by a load-bearing wall. If this applies to your space, it is the best place to place your heaviest exercise equipment.
Look for areas on the floor with multiple joists. You may have to ask the building manager. This is where you want to place your squat or dumbbell racks since the joists can easily support the heavier weight.
As a general rule, do not place heavy equipment in the center of the room. It is where the floor is weakest.
Evenly distributing the weight ensures you can safely set up a home gym in your second-floor apartment.
Guidelines for Placing Heavy Equipment
Some home gyms consist of an all-in-one exercise or cardio machine. In this case, you can place the equipment anywhere in the room. You aren’t going to exceed the floor’s weight capacity.
If you are turning a 168 square foot bedroom into a workout space, here’s an example of how to set it up to not exceed the 5,040 weight limit.
- 3/4” plywood weighs 55 lb. If you use three pieces to protect the floor, you are adding 165 lb.
- Rubber mats for added floor protection and noise reduction add 120 lb.
- A standard power rack at 550 lb.
- Trap bar, tradition, and EZ bar barbells add 115 lb.
- You add another 450 lb. with weight plates.
- Adjustable barbells account for 180 lb.
- A standard treadmill at 350 lb.
- Using this equipment, the total weight the floor is supporting is 1,945 lb. You are well below the maximum load.
Supporting Heavy Furniture
The same guidelines apply to heavy bedroom furniture as a home gym. You use the same calculations to determine the maximum weight load.
Most modern furniture is not heavy enough to warrant concerns about floor safety, but some antique pieces may cause you to reconsider their placement.
When people are arranging their bedroom furniture, most pieces are placed against a wall. It is one of the strongest parts of the floor, reducing any risks for structural failures.
Some antique bedroom sets may be too heavy to place all of the pieces in the same room. It usually applies to large, solid oak sets that include a bed frame, full dressers, and a large armoire.
It’s not easy to get the exact weight of these larger furniture pieces, but you can estimate to ensure it is not too heavy for the floor.
Is There Too Much Weight on the Floor
Hopefully, you do not have too much weight on the second floor. It’s not the way you want to meet your downstairs neighbors.
You don’t have to wait until the floor collapses to realize you have too much weight on it. There will be some warning signs you want to watch out for. If you know what to watch for, you have a better chance of preventing a structural failure.
Bulging Walls on the First Floor
If tenants on the first floor notice their walls are starting to bulge, there may be a weight problem in the upper apartments.
Bulging walls are one of the first signs of a structural problem and indicate repairs are necessary.
Excess Weight on Weak Floors
Chances are you are not the first person to live in the apartment, and the floors may be weak before you bring your furniture and exercise gear in.
A good rule to follow anytime you move into a second-floor dwelling is to walk across every section of the floors.
Press down on the floorboards a little as you are walking. You are checking for soft spots where it feels like there is some give in the floor.
These soft spots indicate the floor isn’t as strong, and you want to avoid placing anything heavy in the area.
Damage Floor Beams
Check the floor’s condition before moving in heavy items. You are looking for a few tell-tale signs.
Pull back the carpet at the corner and check the condition of the wood floor beams. Do you see signs of termite activity? If so, the floor is already weak.
Beams that are starting to rot or have noticeable signs of damage are other indicators the floor cannot support the stated weight.
If you notice any bouncy or sagging areas, it also means the floor isn’t as strong as the international building code suggests.
It’s not always easy to tell if the floors are uneven unless there is a pronounced slant. At this point, chances are you are not moving into the building.
Floors can settle with the building and occasionally become uneven. When this happens, you can’t safely distribute heavy weight across the room.
An easy way to check for uneven floors is to roll a ball or pencil across the room. Try the experiment in all four directions. Look for wobbling or the item rolling in an unexpected direction.
Check Which Materials Are Used in the Building’s Construction
It should not be a problem. Very few multi-dwelling complexes are built using cheap materials. State and federal building codes are strict regarding safety, which means high-quality, proven materials.
Even state-of-the-art buildings can deteriorate over time. The building’s age may say more about its safety than what was used in construction.
To be safe, it is a good idea to check with local construction records. You can find them at your local courthouse.
This will help you know if your second-floor apartment can support all of your stuff.
You may be worried about placing a 750 lb. safe in your second-floor apartment or setting up a home gym.
In most cases, your second-story apartment is just as safe as your downstairs neighbor’s. The chances of the floor collapsing from your weight set or antique oak bedframe are extremely slim.
The floor can support more weight than you may think. The crucial aspect is to know how much. Using the simple calculation, you can know in seconds if your belongings will fall through the floor.
Remember to place the heaviest pieces close to the wall for additional weight support. You also want to check the floors for any problem areas.
With a little planning, you can put more than you think safely on the second floor.
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