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A Beginner's Guide to ASCE 7-05
Chapter 3 - D: Dead Loads
2007, T. Bartlett Quimby
Overview
Typical Unit
Area Dead Load
Calcuations
Homework
Problems
References
Report Errors or
Make
Suggestions

Section 3.2
Typical Unit Area Dead Load Calculations
Last Revised: 10/06/2010
Computing the unit dead load for a region of surface area generally starts by identifying
the region of a roof plan, floor plan, or elevation where the unit load is needed then
looking at a typical section of that area to see how it is constructed. Once the
components of the system have been identified, a weight is computed for each item.
The total unit dead load is the sum of the component weights plus a "miscellaneous"
factor to account of minor items not included specifically in the calculation.
A Floor System Example
Given the floor section shown in Figure 3.2.1, determine the unit dead load for the
region that has this construction. The floor system is in an office building that is likely
to see reconfiguration of interior partitions over the course of it's life.
Figure 3.2.1
Floor System Section
Determine the weights of the various components:
Carpet & Pad: There is a wide variety of carpet & pad out there with a wide
variety of weights. In this case, since the carpet and pad weight is likely to be
small with respect to some of the other components, we can be a little
conservative without making a significant impact on the design. Lets use 3 psf
for the carpet and pad.
Concrete on Deck: The decking manufacturer provides weight tables for their
product. In this case, the weight is 35 psf.
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Steel Joists: A 36LH07 steel joist weighs approximately 16 lbs per lineal foot
according to the Steel Joist Institute literature. The tributary width of the joists is
5' 10", so the weight per floor area equals 16 lb/ft / 5.8333 ft = 2.74 psf
Lightweight Suspended Ceiling: According to one reference, a metal
suspension system with tiles weighs about 1.8 psf. We'll use that.
Misc. Loading: We expect that there will be misc. light fixtures in the ceiling,
wiring, and minor plumbing, so we will select a value between 1 psf and 2 psf that
will give us an integer value for the total load.
Table 3.2.1 summarizes the calculation:
Table 3.2.1
Floor System Dead Load
Floor Dead Load Calculation
Carpet & Pad 3.00psf
Conc o/ stl deck 35.00psf
Joists
wt/ft 16.00plf
spacing 5.83ft
Jst Wt 2.74psf
Ceiling 1.80psf
Misc 1.46psf
Total Unit Weight 44psf
Note that this calculation does not include the weight of any girders or other structure
that is in the floor system. To determine the total weight of the system, you need to
add in the other items that are a part of it.
A Roof System Example
Figure 3.2.2 shows a roof section for wood framed residential roof system. Include a
reroofing allowance when computing the design dead load.
Figure 3.2.2
Wood Framed Roof System Section
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Determine the weights of the various components. Remember that we want to have
the loads expressed in terms of weight per square foot of horizontal area so we have to
convert sloped surfaces. This is a simple trigonometry problem as shown in Figure
3.2.3. The correction factor equal 1/cos q. For our particular problem, the slope angle
equals the arctangent of (8/12) or 33.7 degrees. The correction factor becomes 1.20.
Figure 3.2.3
Slope Correction
Asphalt Shingles: The shingles weigh 2.5 lbs per square foot of surface area.
We need to convert this to weight on a horizontal projected area, so the shingle
weight becomes 2.5 psf times 1.2 or 3.0 psf. This includes the roofing felt that
underlies the shingles.
Reroofing Allowance: This equals the original roofing weight of 3.0 psf.
1/2" Wood Sheathing: Most wood products weigh about 35 lb per cubic foot,
so the weight of 1/2" of wood weighs about 35 pcf times the ratio 0.5"/12",
resulting in a weight of approximately 1.5 psf.
Trusses: As the trusses have probably not been designed yet (these are often
done by the truss manufacturer while the project is under construction) we need
to make a reasonable approximation. Experience would suggest that the top and
bottom chords are made from 2x6 material and the web members from 2x4
material. The top chord and web members are sloped and require slope
correction while the bottom chord does not. In this case we will estimate the
weight by adding the top chord weight (2x6 times slope correction), the web
members (2x4 times same slope correction), and the bottom chord together to
get a unit weight of 3.26 psf.
Insulation: Insulation comes in various weights. You need to consult with the
architect on this or make a conservative estimate. One source puts batt insulation
at 0.1 psf/in to 0.2 psf/in. We will use the larger to get a unit weight of 2.4 psf.
Note that there is no slope correction to be applied here since the insulation is
already on a horizontal surface.
Gypsum Wall Board (GWB) & Vapor Barrier: Normally there is no addition
for the vapor barrier because it's weight is so small compared to the
miscellaneous value. The GWB (or sheetrock) is heavy. One source put 5/8"
thick GWB at 2.8 psf so that is what we will use.
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Miscellaneous: This roof system also has wind bracing at the end trusses,
blocking at the supports, and minor wiring. We will use a value between 1.5 and
2.5 to account for this extra stuff.
Table 3.2.2 summarizes the calculation:
Table 3.2.2
Roof System Dead Load
Roof Dead Load Calculation
Slope/12 Flat Slope fact Adjusted
Asphalt Shingles 8 2.5 1.20 3.00 psf
Reroofing 3.00 psf
1/2" Plywd Sheathing 8 1.5 1.20 1.80 psf
Trusses @ 24" O.C.
2x6 Top Chord 8 1.1 1.20 1.32 psf
2x4 Web 8 0.7 1.20 0.84 psf
2x6 Btm Chord 0 1.1 1.00 1.10 psf
Insulation 0 3.6 1.00 3.60 psf
5/8" GWB 0 2.8 1.00 2.80 psf
Misc 1.52 psf
Total Unit Weight 19.00 psf
If you look closely at the right side of the roof section shown in Figure 3.2.2, you will
notice that the roof framing is different. This means that the average unit dead load
computed here really only applies to where these trusses are. A separate calculation is
required for roof areas that don't match the one for which we did the calculation.
Interior Wall Example
Figure 3.2.4 shows a wall section for light gage steel framed wall system.
Figure 3.2.4
Typical Interior Wall Section
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Determine the weights of the various components:
GWB: The wall has two layers of 1/2" GWB, each weighing 2.2 psf. The total
weight of GWB on the wall is 4.4 psf.
Steel Studs: The manufacturers website says that the cross sectional area away
from cutouts equals 0.513 in
2
for this stud. Since steel weighs about 492 pcf,
this equates to 1.75 plf for the stud. This is conservative since it does not
account for the cutouts. The studs are placed at 16 inches O.C. (on center),
giving us a weight of 1.31 lbs per square foot of wall.
Miscellaneous: The wall is likely to see minor weight from electrical wiring, but
not much else. We will chose a miscellaneous load that is between 1 psf and 2
psf.
Note that we have not accounted for door opening or windows. These items usually
weight near or less per square foot of wall than the main part of the wall. Using the
average value computed here is usually close enough without being overly
conservative. If you have opening with out doors or windows, then subtract those
areas from your wall weight calculation.
You should consult the architectural drawings for the project to see if there are any
other wall coverings being added, such as paneling or sound board. If there are other
items, these must be added in as well.
Table 3.2.3 summarizes the calculation:
Table 3.2.3
Interior Wall Dead Load
Interior Wall Dead Load Calculation
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1/2" GWB 2.20psf
Stl Studs 1.31psf
1/2" GWB 2.20psf
Misc 1.29psf
Total Unit Weight 7psf