Raised flooring on a budget.
December 22, 2012 4:59 PM   Subscribe

I would like to install raised/tiled flooring in the new electronics lab I am outfitting. (So its easy to string new cables of all sorts around the lab with no mess or moving furniture around). I can afford the enterprise tiles I have found on the net so far. Can anyone think of a creative way to implement it without breaking the bank? I would be very happy.
posted by digividal to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lay some carpet tiles on a bunch of old pallets?
posted by Behemoth at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

How much do the tiles you're looking at cost per square foot?

Are you handy? Is this for your home, work, or school?
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:00 PM on December 22, 2012

What's the job? Size of lab, etc.

Really, if you want to run cable more than once, the tiles should be (relatively) easily removable in small units. You would then have to balance this flexibility with the floor itself being stable and solid, and also being level for the lab itself.

I worked construction on some office buildings a while back, and watched the raised floor teams. It was was kind of detailed and complex work, and not easy once you saw what was actually involved. Lots of leveling involved, and also precision adjustable sub-floor parts.
posted by carter at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2012

would it be cheaper to hang tracks?
posted by plinth at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

First, let's figure out what you're doing about ESD. Most of the labs I've worked in have carbon-impregnated tiles, laid over copper tape running the length of the room, which is then bonded to ground. If you want carpet for comfort, the percent-conductive-thread stuff is expensive, and similarly needs to sit atop a conductive mesh for bonding.

Neither of those is particularly incompatible with the concept of raised flooring, but it's a complicating factor. You really want to get this right the first time.

Personally, I can't stand raised floors, having worked on and around them for most of my career. Even with the high-end systems, there are always a few tiles that are too tight, or wobbly, or have unsightly gaps. The tile edges eventually wear, and become a replacement item. The two-foot size doesn't give enough granularity in positioning, and ends up governing your furniture placement (imagine a "snap-to" grid in your lab!). Cutting corners out of tiles to feed cables through is a giant PITA, and leaves the tiles wobbly. Drilling holes through tiles to feed cables through is also a PITA, and leaves you unable to remove the tile once there's a single cable run through it. It's impossible to clean the underfloor space. And with that space out of sight, it's also out of mind, and someone will pile tons of slack cable down there, put splices down there, and do other unspeakable things.

I can understand why, in a datacenter environment, air-handling considerations make raised floors popular despite all the above. (And the budgets allow for it.) But in a lab, you're not burning megawatts and dealing with all that heat, so I absolutely would not go raised-floor in a lab. Use overhead cable trays, exposed below the drop-ceiling so the cables run therein don't have to be "plenum" rated. Also, when all the wiring is visible, it also encourages clean wiring practices.

The telecom industry has been using overhead cable trays for roughly a century now. They work pretty well!
posted by Myself at 8:36 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

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