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What Is a Mezzanine Floor in Building? Meaning & Uses Explained

Mezzanine Stairs

Mezzanine definition

A mezzanine is an intermediate level or levels between the floor and ceiling of any story in accordance with Section 505 of the International Building Code. Mezzanine meaning derives from the Italian word mezza which means “half” or “middle.”

Types of mezzanine floor applications

Types of mezzanine floors applications include warehousing, storage, office, manufacturing, and production spaces. Mezzanines can be used to increase the usable floor space in a building without needing to add onto the building itself. They can be made of steel, wood, concrete, or other materials.

A mezzanine space helps increase the efficiency of the space within a building. A Mezzanine floor can be a large structural steel mezzanine system, an elongated equipment or work platform, or a small storage platform. However, mezzanines should not be confused with equipment platforms. The difference between a mezzanine vs equipment platform can have important implications for construction and building code requirements.

Mezzanines are often designed using different materials such as steel, wood, or concrete. Most industrial mezzanines incorporate high-strength steel for easy assembly within a building structure.

Industrial mezzanines can be accessed by steel mezzanine stairs. For small mezzanines positioned in tight spaces within the building, alternating tread stairs are a safe, efficient way to access mezzanines.

Steel mezzanine

equipment mezzanineSteel mezzanines are a common type of mezzanine construction for warehouse storage, equipment platforms, and other industrial spaces. Steel construction offers high strength for a durable and safe structure.

Steel mezzanines and equipment platforms can be designed to be free-standing structures with bolt-together construction for easy to assembly inside an existing building. This makes steel the best choice for adding a mezzanine floor to an existing space.

Concrete mezzanine

Concrete is often used for mezzanine floor decking. It is the most durable type of mezzanine floor decking system with high point load and low noise transmission. Concrete decking is best for industrial applications that need high structural durability.

Rack mezzanine

A rack mezzanine is a storage mezzanine or warehouse mezzanine floor designed using the storage rack system as the primary structural support for the mezzanine. This type of support structure can help save money and space since the supports are used for both the rack and the mezzanine systems.

Racking and shelving manufactures may integrate a multi-floor tier mezzanine structure into the rack system. These help improve functionality for the storage space and can provide easier access to inventory.

What is a mezzanine level used for?

A mezzanine level is an intermediate floor between levels of a building that is used for increasing the floor area of the building without adding on to the building itself. It can be used for countless applications like storage, work operations, equipment access, inventory rack access,  and conveyor access.

Mezzanines are common in industrial settings in buildings with high ceilings like distribution centers, warehouses, and production floors.

No matter the use of the mezzanine, it should meet certain building code requirements, and the mezzanine access stairs must meet the IBC mezzanines stair requirements.

Storage mezzanine floor

storage mezzanineA storage mezzanine floor may be the most common type of mezzanine. It can be used to store any number of items like inventory, supplies, hardware, paperwork, equipment, or furniture.

Storage mezzanines may are different from equipment platforms in the way they are used and who has access to them. The difference between a mezzanine vs equipment platform is defined by IBC section 505 and Chapter 10. A storage mezzanine needs IBC stairs while an equipment platform needs OSHA stairs.

Work platform mezzanine

equipment mezzanineA work platform mezzanine provides elevated access for employees to perform work tasks like packaging, assembling, maintenance, or quality control. These types of mezzanines are often located near equipment, conveyor systems, or maintenance areas to improve access for operators and maintenance employees.

Portable mezzanine

A portable mezzanine, as the name implies, is a type of mezzanine that can be transported. Because they must be moved from location to location, portable mezzanines are usually small storage mezzanines.

Retail mezzanine floor

Retail mezzanines help to increase space for a retail sales floor, for inventory storage, or even for office space. Retail mezzanines can be designed with a modern finish to attract customers to the sales floor.

Office mezzanine floor

Office mezzanine floors are a great addition to any type of workspace to increase office space without needing to extend onto the building. In-plant office mezzanines are a type of mezzanine office space used in manufacturing or other production spaces for office workers who need close proximity to the production floor, like engineering and operations management professionals.

What is a mezzanine floor made of? Mezzanine flooring components

Mezzanine floors are usually made of a combination of steel, concrete, wood, stainless steel, or even fiberglass. Mezzanine floor construction depends on the type and use of the mezzanine. Steel and concrete is the most common type of mezzanine construction. Some applications may require corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel.

Most industrial mezzanines are made of modular, pre-engineered steel systems designed to quickly and easily install in the factory.  Steel mezzanines can be engineered to provide support for heavy loads.

Mezzanine floor decking may be made of steel, wood, composite materials, or concrete. Steel grating provides slip resistance and drainage for food manufacturing and waste management industries. Composite resin deck systems are lightweight and durable for storage mezzanines. Concrete decks are the most durable for heavier industrial applications.

Additions to a mezzanine platform

Common additions to a mezzanine platform include guardrails, handrails, safety gates, alternating tread stairs, and IBC compliant mezzanine stairs. These additions can be powder-coated for a durable finish that will last many years. Or they may be made of stainless steel, aluminum or other materials to best fit the application.

Mezzanine guardrails

All mezzanines must have guardrails for fall protection. Mezzanine guardrails must meet OSHA and IBC requirements for guardrails. Industrial mezzanines should have guardrail systems designed to meet requirements of OSHA section 1910.29 for fall protection systems and falling object protection-criteria and practices. Guardrails should be minimum 42 inches in height, plus or minus 3 inches, and should include a toeboard with a minimum 3.5 inches in height.

Mezzanine Stairs

All mezzanines need mezzanine stairs. Because mezzanines are considered to be a story within the building structure, they must be provided by a means of egress. Mezzanine stairs are part of the means of egress and must meet the International Building Code requirements (IBC) for egress stairways. The IBC mezzanine stair requirements are found under IBC Chapter 10 Means of Egress.

Mezzanine alternating tread stairs

Under certain conditions, alternating tread stairs may be allowed for mezzanine access. Alternating tread stairs can be used under the IBC as a means of egress to mezzanines smaller than 250 sq ft that serve no more than 5 occupants. Alternating tread stairs can also be used as a secondary means of egress to larger mezzanine structures for areas with space restrictions.

Benefits of mezzanine floors

Mezzanines provide many benefits for different types of work spaces. Some of the benefits of mezzanine flooring systems include:

  • Increased storage space for inventory, stock, equipment, or other materials
  • Added office space for production support personnel
  • Improved access to elevated equipment
  • Added retail floor space to show more products

Tips for building a mezzanine

Building a mezzanine requires design, engineering, and manufacturing expertise to ensure a safe, durable, and code-compliant mezzanine system. When deciding to install a mezzanine, follow a few simple tips to make sure you install the right system for your needs.

  • Consult with Lapeyre Stair or a specialized mezzanine designer and manufacturer on your needs for the mezzanine
  • Understand the specific requirements for your mezzanine application such as the weights of items to be stored on the mezzanine and whether the mezzanine will be exposed to water or chemicals.
  • Make sure to account for mezzanine stairs when considering the layout of your mezzanine.
  • Understand your budget and insurance requirements for the mezzanine before exploring options for materials and decking surfaces.

Final points on what is a mezzanine floor

Mezzanine floors can be a great addition to many industrial and commercial work spaces to increase the usable floor space within the building. Mezzanine work platforms can also help improve access to equipment or maintenance areas to improve workflow and efficiency in a production environment. For many workplaces, installing a mezzanine can be a cost effective option to add usable space to the workplace without requiring a costly building addition.

Mezzanine meaning FAQs

What is the difference between a balcony and a mezzanine?

A mezzanine is an intermediate sub-floor between to two main floors of a building while a balcony is an extendable structure extending from the building. A mezzanine is used to add space within the building while a balcony is primarily used to overlook another area.

What is the difference between a loft and a mezzanine?

A loft is a space directly under the roof of a house or other building which may be used for living space or storage and is usually open to the floor below. A mezzanine is an intermediate sub-floor between two main floors of a building.

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