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RE: Commercial Bldg. - Second Floor Loads

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"This assumes that partitions are stacked side-by-side the whole 
length and width of the tributary floor area.  Seems a bit heavy-handed to 
me, but I want to do the right thing."

The case you would use to get to 20psf need not be that extreme.  When I
tally up the weight of the walls in a typical wood frame residential
building, I typically get 10-15psf based on the total wall weight smeared
over the total floor area, which is the result (roughly speaking) of walls
weighing around 80lb/ft spaced at about 8' o.c. average.  8' o.c. seems
tight, but remember that lots of them are running perpendicular to one
another.  The 80lb/ft wall weight includes a generous allowance for plumbing
and insulation in the wall, but you get to 60lb/ft quite easily just based
on a layer of 5/8" gyp on each side of a 2x4 @ 16" o.c. wall assembly.
While those numbers are based on take-offs I've done of residential
buildings, if the office tenant comes back some day and puts in a lot of
individual offices with full-height non-bearing partition walls with a
little insulation for sound-proofing and narrow corridors running between
them, the net effect won't be that different and you could realistically
have 10-15psf average.  The code's 20psf is not supposed to be applied only
directly under the partitions themselves, it is a smeared average of the
partition weights.  It assumes some pretty hefty and frequent partitions,
but it is not impossible.  I think most of the advice given here regarding
load cases has been good, but I'm not sure you're using the right rational
for evaluating it.  

Paul Crocker, PE, SE

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