Weight of press & wooden floor

I am looking to start my own print shop. I have a small row house might work, however, I am concerned that the floor might not be strong enough to hold a press & cutter. I’ve included a small diagram which shows the orientation of the floor joists across the 16’ wide house (it’s a row house remember, so brick walls on either side). There are two additional supports. The first is 1 or 2 2x8s on steel columns. I didn’t show it, but this support beam is pretty much next to the washroom (I showed it too far into the room), and it runs only part way from front to back - it used to be the support when an old flight of stairs went to the basement instead of the current washroom being there on the 1st floor…so the span on those floor joists is 12’. The other support (2 2x10s) is about midway across the house (about 8’ from either side) but doesn’t run the full length of the house - it probably only is 10 feet long, and goes from the back wall to about where the 2x8 support starts.

I plan on removing the CLOSET to put the type in there, and put the cutter near the back, and put the press in the middle (near the word ‘concrete’). This would allow display on the long wall opposite the washroom.

My question is: what do I have to do to make sure the floor is strong enough so everything doesn’t collapse into the basement?

image: Floor plan - partially[1].jpg

Floor plan - partially[1].jpg

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Sorry the diagram is the wrong way…I guess the quoins weren’t tight and the boxcar base slipped 90 degrees….:)

It may depend on the size and weight of the press - however, the vibration which a running platen press generates could be as much of a problem as the weight. Another thing - if you beef up the floor joists with beams supported by columns, you then need to consider what the column rests on - most concrete floors in cellars aren’t designed to support additional weight-bearing columns.

I hadn’t thought about the vibration. Does that mean I should seek out a cement floor place? ie: a place w/o a basement?

Vibration from a small press (like an 8x12) can be contained to a great extent by properly reinforcing the floor joists, but your neighbors will probably notice even if there is no damage done. A concrete floor is best to absorb vibration.

Check out the Front Room Press blog - http://frontroompress.blogspot.com/ you may want to contact Rich Polinski and ask how he resolved his weight/vibration issues.

You haven’t said which kind of press you intend to put in your erstwhile shop, but I wouldn’t worry too much if it is a 8” x 12” platen or smaller. They weigh about as much per square foot as a refrigerator and most homes are well equiped to carry that much weight. To help distribute the weight the press could be placed on a thick sheet of plywood. A paper cutter depending on size will easily out do the psf so be careful where you place it. Any support you can place under a floor will be well worth it over the long run, and floor jacks and cross beams are easy to install. I would be more concerned with the footprint of your type cabinets. A well stocked type cabinet can weigh nearly 1200 lbs in a six square foot area. I am including a link for vibration pads. I have used these for years and they work very well.


Use common sense and you should be alright.

Thanks to all so much. I hadn’t considered the PerSqFt issue.
The basement unit of the building has just been redone and looks great - so I wouldn’t want to make any modifications from the bottom up. However, the main floor (where the press might be) has a non-load bearing wall which needs to be removed. This will mean either patching the floor, or redoing the floor. I was thinking of removing the old flooring and “sistering-up” some extra joist beams and supporting them by gluing and lag-bolting them to the existing beams, then supporting them on the ends with joist hangers. With new 3/4 plywood and new floor on top, I’m hoping that it will provide the required support.

This is all very interesting and helpful. At Schreiner University, Kerrville, TX, we have “inherited” from me a complete 19th century print shop (“Waco Village Press”) and are considering building a shop-on-wheels so we can take it around to fairs, other schools, etc. One press is small and no problem; the other is a “late” model, full-size R. Hoe & Co. Washington Hand Press sold by the factory to a printer in Galveston, TX in 1906. It’s a good press, but just how to design the floor to handle the weight is a concern. No vibration problem—-when I printed on it I managed about 60 impressions an hour. But the weight is substantial. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

You really will have to bolt all the equipment down through the floor of the trailer, and also brace the Hoe laterally during transport. Otherwise, you might have tipped presses or an overturned trailer the first time you make a U-turn.

@Sam Lanham - I just graduated from Schreiner May ‘10! Do you know if they were ever planning on doing any classes (even short ones) on the printing press?! I am still in the area and would like to find out more about this!