A mezzanine is an intermediate floor or balcony between two others---typically between the first and second floors---and is usually open rather than walled off. Building a mezzanine inside a factory or warehouse is an effective way to add floor space within the existing building for storing files or adding extra offices, according to Inplant Offices.
Mezzanine-info.com explains that 99 per cent of mezzanines are made from steel, aluminium or fibreglass. Most steel mezzanines are made from hot-rolled steel, cold-rolled sheet metal supported on steel columns, or stainless steel. Structural steel is heavy, but offers enough strength that the columns can be spaced farther apart than with other designs. Cold-rolled steel is lighter, with a smoother finish. Stainless steel resists water and chemical damage, and the Food and Drug Administration approves its use in food-processing plants.
Aluminium doesn't rust, so it can be immersed in water, according to mezzanine-info.com. It's lighter than steel, but can't support as much weight. Fibreglass used for mezzanine construction won't rust or contaminate water, and the colour is moulded in and won't chip off. However, it sways more than metal and costs two to three times as much as steel.
The basic mezzanine design consists of a platform on columns, with the flooring supported by beams, according to Industrial Quick Search Directory's website. There are three broad classes of design: Island mezzanines stand with no connection to the building walls; full mezzanines connect to the building and extend halfway across the available space; inverted island mezzanines run around the perimeter of the building.
Designs can also be categorised by their use: Warehouse mezzanines are designed for storage space; floor mezzanines are raised platforms that provide additional space and working areas; racking mezzanines are built of platforms or railings to accommodate storage or factory production.
Many companies, such as Vertispace, Inplant and Mezzanine Floor Systems, say that after reviewing the space and settling on the design of a mezzanine project, they can prefabricate the components---stairs, supports, rails---at the factory, then transport them and assemble them on-site. This reduces the amount of time that businesses will be disrupted by construction.
Mezzanines have to comply to the site's local and state building codes. Companies should beware of crooked contractors who build without regard for the rules in order to boost their profits, according to Mezzanine-info.com. Businesses hiring a mezzanine contractor should check licenses and references, as when hiring any contractor.