Raised Floor System Guide

By Lucas Murray posted 11-25-2020 10:03 PM


Compared to outdated server room design and layout alternatives: Suspended ceilings, skirting, concrete trenching and dado trunking (plastic conduits,) raised floor systems offer more benefits. So let's look more closely at raised access flooring systems and why they make such an economical and efficient choice for configuring today's computer rooms, data centers and office buildings. 

What are Raised Floor Systems? 

Raised floor systems - which are sometimes called raised access flooring systems - are an effective method to elevate the flooring structure of a room above the subfloor, typically made of concrete. The components of a raised floor system include: raised floor tiles, pedestals and stringers, used to connect the panels together and provide additional rigidity.

A raised floor system's grid is supported by the pedestals that are vertically adjustable to achieve the desired height over the subfloor. Depending on the specific requirements of the data center, you can bond the pedestals to the substrate through the use of adhesives or mechanical fasteners. 

There are a number of different materials that can be used to make raised floor tiles, including a wood or cement core that is clad in aluminium or steel. Also, there are grated and perforated panel designs that can be very useful in facilitating airflow, resulting in cooling the data center or other types of rooms.

Cable Management Access Floor Systems

In addition to more traditional access floor systems, a newer type of low-profile access floor is becoming popular. These “low-profile” access floors can be as short as 1.5” (40mm) and allow for easy routing of wires, cables and conduit. If a building needs a simple and flexible cable management method, without under-floor air distribution, a cable management access floor could be very beneficial to the building design.

Raised Floor System Benefits 

Typically, a raised floor system is installed to augment the operation of your data center or any space with large cabling requirements. Let's discuss some of the most important advantages that this type of flooring provides to the functionality of your computer room, office, classroom or command and operations centers. 

Cable management: From providing an alternative option in hot aisle/cold aisle designs, creating plenum space for airflow, piping and electrical, to eliminating tripping hazards, raised floors are a great way to manage systems and utilities in a data center. The vast networks of cables, wires and piping in a data center are usually routed within the raised access floor. By having all of the cables concealed under the raised floor, you are left with a neat and clean arrangement of aisles and racks.  

Upgrade flexibility: Being able to quickly replace or reconfigure wiring and cabling networks allows you to upgrade or add equipment while having complete access to your underfloor area. Whether you are adding floor diffusers or grated tiles, a raised floor system is an excellent way to provide your data center with structured cabling on Day 1 and during all upgrades in the future. The simple access and plentiful cable raceways of a cable management floor make reconfiguring an office or retail space very easy.

Cooling efficiency: A key benefit that raised floor systems offer to data centers is providing airflow management that is more efficient than a free supply or return design. Given that warm air rises, numerous overhead cooling systems have proven to be less effective, or less efficient, than a hot aisle/cold aisle arrangement with the return airflow above the servers. A raised floor allows for cool air to be efficiently delivered from under the equipment, directly to each server’s air intake, with the hot exhaust air flowing out the back and top of the server racks.

Grounding capabilities: Cable management access floors do not always require electrical grounding. Some access floor designs require grounding while others do not, depending on their specific material construction. For large projects, an electrical engineer should be consulted to ensure the NEC, as well as local codes, are met. If static electricity buildup is a concern, there are many types of finish floor materials that are specially designed to dissipate static energy. It is common in commercial buildings such as offices, conference rooms and command centers to use static dissipative floor finishes such as carpet or VCT.

Raised access floors are more popular than ever, as buildings of all types are becoming more wired and connected. Whether you need several feet of under-floor space, or only a few inches to route wires and cables, there are many access floor designs available.