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RE: STEEL: Lateral Support for Open-Web Steel Joists

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Your trepidation is warranted. I would rather face the client's wrath than his lawyers.

I would not use bar grating to act as a lateral support for the bar joist top chord (the answer is no). I would definately not use it with saddle clips (the answer goes to Hell NO!).

The first option would be WF with bar grating and design the beams for whatever bracing worked out as most economical. If you have to go to bar joists, provide secondary bracing. You should be able to get some backing from the joist manufacturer. There is just no data of which I am aware that would support using bar joists to serve as top chord bracing.

On your last point, call the joist manufacturer for input. Or you could suggest a confirmation load test. For a 200 psf LL you would need to apply about 300 psf.

Some time ago I wrote a letter to a very high profile client that told him that his building was not safe for human occupancy. ...piece of cake. Of course that client no longer uses us, but I sleep well. Good luck!! So the choices are eat or sleep? ;>)

Harold Sprague

From: "Bill Polhemus" <bill(--nospam--at)>
Reply-To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Subject: STEEL: Lateral Support for Open-Web Steel Joists
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 16:00:15 -0500


I have a job that requires adding on a couple of bays to a mezzanine level
in an auto parts supply warehouse. The existing mezzanine level has steel
bar grating supported on K-series steel joists. The real kicker is that the
floor is rated (sign is posted) at 200 psf!

Yet the bar grating is attached to the top chords of the joists using
typical "saddle clips" (e.g., illustration at upper left), which IMO will not provide adequate bracing against lateral torsional
buckling of the joists under service load. Further, the bridging provided
for the K-joists appears to be the standard for construction phasing before
a solid deck is put down.

First, am I misinformed about the ability of the bar grating with only
saddle clips to brace the joists? Of course the owner would say "hey, it's
worked this way for several years, never had a single problem yet! And will
want me to put into the new addition exactly what is already there.

Second, what would be best: Use K-joists still, but make sure that the joist
supplier puts adequate cross-bridging to assume there is no lateral
torsional buckling problem? Or use wide-flange girders? I'm tending toward
the first option because I could probably quietly slip it by without the
owner's curiosity being piqued.

Finally, what is my ethical responsibility with regard to the
joist-supported floors which (if my assessment is correct) are not adequate
for the posted load? This place is actually within the city limits of a
small, well-to-do south Texas town that actually has a building official. Do
I need to bring this up to the owner and inform the building official (thus
possibly incurring wrath?)

This business is a high-profile outfit. I wouldn't be surprised, in fact, if
the building official didn't choose to look the other way even if I did


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