Flooring Weight Limits: Issues and Solutions

kronotex-usa-pianoIn this article, we’ll review issues associated with heavy objects on a floating laminate floor system and offer solutions. By knowing weights limits, you can make better installation decisions so that heavyweight objects are properly supported and their weight evenly distributed. That way you know what to do with that grand piano in the middle of the room you’re about change!

Why it’s important to consider heavy weight limits on your laminate flooring…
Because it’s a floating floor system, heavy, weighty objects sitting on your laminate floor can interfere with the natural expansion of the planks across the entire room regardless of the manufacturer. Heavy weights can affect the structural integrity of the interlocking laminate planks and lead to performance issues with the floor.

For instance, if you know you’re going to park that baby grand piano you inherited from your aunt on top of your Kronotex USA floor, install an “island” or “lily pad” of the same flooring where the piano legs will go, separated by the rest of the room’s flooring, with the standard T-molding and expansion gaps. That way the weight of the piano is literally isolated to the piano’s footprint without putting the rest of your floor at risk.

There are four basic issues when it comes to placing heavyweights on laminate flooring:

1. Anything over 500 pounds on laminate flooring is a heavy weight consideration.
When we speak of heavy weights, we are mostly talking about weight limits of 500 pounds and more. Heavy, stationary objects under 500 pounds may not necessarily need their own island (described above), but they would definitely benefit from a thicker plank selection. (Read more about thickness How to Choose Laminate Flooring Thickness.) An exception is when the object generates vibration, which we we’ll address in issue #4, below.

2. Limit instances of concentrated weight on a laminate floor.
Some heavyweight things can spread their weight out evenly, because more of their surface area comes in direct contact with the laminate floor. Heavy things resting on feet, however, are another matter entirely and would benefit from a lily pad or island. The best example is typical fish aquarium. Here’s why:
• Many aquariums are held by wrought-iron frames that concentrate the entire weight on four small feet. Each foot may force as much as 200 lbs. onto a 1- to 2-inch area for a typical 90-gallon/800-pound tank.
• Aquariums are usually placed against a wall where they may end up resting on a short or narrow laminate plank. These planks (which are just a result of the installation for a given room) don’t have the length or width to distribute the load as well. They don’t deal well with heavy concentrated weight forced down on them.

3. If the heavy weight stays put, it’s actually better for your laminate floor.
Knowing in advance where a heavy item will be placed will help you plan your laminate-floor installation and accommodate an island for it.

4. With some heavy things, it’s not the weight but the vibrations that could be a concern for laminate flooring.
A typical washing machine may weigh about 175 pounds plus the laundry and the water it takes to clean it. But the vibrations could, over time, loosen the locking system if the laminate isn’t isolated from the rest of the floor. Definitely consider an island for the washing machine.

Which heavy items should I be careful about on my laminate floor?
Here’s a quick list we put together of heavy items and their weights. Remember, every item and situation is different and all weights are averages or estimates.
• Upright piano: 500 to 800 pounds
• Grand piano: 500 to 1,200 pounds
• Pool table: 700+ pounds (The thickness of the table’s slate is the big determiner here.)
• Gun safe: 375+ pounds (based on a 6-foot safe that holds 16 guns)
• Aquarium: 800 pounds (based on a 90-gallon tank. Always remember, “A pint’s a pound the world around.”)
• Washing machine: 175 pounds plus water and clothes
• Treadmill: 250 to 300 pounds (based on a True PS/800 model)
• Pinball machine: 300 pounds

For each of these heavy items, you’ll want to consider the four issues detailed above and how to best address laminate flooring weight limits.

What about mobility scooters on my laminate floor?

If someone in your home uses a battery-operated scooter to get around, it’s not the weight that’s the concern, even though they will have a load-bearing range of between 250 and 350 pounds, depending on the model. Rather, it’s the repeated torque on the laminate floor’s locking system caused by turns going through a doorway that’s a concern. A 12mm-thick plank-laminate floor will handle the repeated torque stress better than a thinner plank will.

How to handle kitchen major appliances and the laminate floor?

Wondering if you should install the flooring under a slide-in oven and under the refrigerator, since they both weigh less than 500 pounds? Yes, you can definitely install both appliances over laminate flooring. For the refrigerator, we recommend using an antimicrobial silicone sealer, because as many of us know, those handy icemakers can sometimes spring a leak. As a reminder for all our readers, under-counter dishwasher installation has special considerations when it comes to laminate flooring: Don’t trap it in its cavity or you’ll have regrets when it comes time to service or replace that dishwasher.