What Is PSF in Construction?

March 12, 2024

If you are a construction professional, you have likely heard the term “psf” used. It’s a common measurement for determining how much weight a certain area can support. It’s also an important metric when considering which materials to use in your project. In this article, we will discuss what psf is and how to calculate it for your projects.

Essentially, psf is the amount of weight that can be supported per square foot of a surface. This can be determined by dividing the total weight of the structure by its square footage. It’s important to understand psf because it is the basis for many structural calculations.

The psf of a surface can vary due to a variety of factors, such as the number of people, furniture, or vehicles that will be using it. For example, a room in a pole building may need to be able to withstand up to 40 psf of live load, while a room at a school could only require 5 psf.

Another factor to consider when calculating psf is the collateral load of the structure. This includes items such as roof insulation, normal lighting, sprinkler systems, and suspended ceilings. At Norsteel, we design all structures with a minimum collateral load of 3 psf. While lowering the collateral load can reduce the initial cost of the structure, the costs to reinforce the structure once it’s in place often outweigh any initial savings.

When determining PSF in commercial real estate, it’s important to distinguish between net and gross rates. A net rate does not include a tenant’s tax obligations or common area maintenance fees, while a gross quote does.


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