Choosing the Correct Trim Materials When Cutting Raised Floor Systems
Cutting into raised floor systems is necessary to allow for the installation of cables and hoses, although care must be taken to select the proper trim material to prevent damage to these cables, as well as employees' fingers. A noncombustible protective molding will eliminate the sharp edges on the floor cutouts to avoid damaging expensive cables, as well as prevent casters from rolling into the cutout. This molding is generally made from rigid plastic created from injection-molded resin and is very resistant to breakage and chipping.
When creating a cable cutout in raised floor tiles, one option is buying a cable cutout kit that includes the materials necessary for custom sizing of cable cutouts, including the L-Molding, cable cutout corners and screws.
L-Molding is used to line the inside of raised floor tiles after they have been cut out to install cables and hoses penetrating through the raised floor system. This molding protects both fingers and cables from abrasion, but molding screws are necessary for installation. This type of PVC edging material trims rectangular or irregularly-shaped cutouts and features an L-shape that's fastened to the top of a raised floor tile while allowing the longer edge to protrude downward into the cutout. It's usually provided in 4' lengths, which are then field cut to fit, and it's also known as cutout trim.
F-Molding is another type of molding and it's similar to L-Molding, although it features an extra channel that allows the technician to insert a closed cell sponge material for a sealed plenum. F-Molding prevents underfloor air loss while also preventing lightweight materials from falling into the subfloor of raised floor systems, ensuring the delicate subfloor atmosphere remains free of debris and surface dust.
How to Cut Raised Floor Systems
Cutting into raised floor systems to install a cable cutout requires basic carpentry skills and the ability to use multiple measuring devices. You will need safety equipment including work gloves, ear plugs, sleeve protectors, safety glasses and full-face shields.
Panels with a cutout extending to the edge of the panel may be cut with a bandsaw, and Tate, the world leader in raised floor systems, recommends creating a cutout at least 3 inches away from the edges of the floor tile to maintain structural integrity. If you're creating cutouts inside the perimeter of the panel, you may use a heavy-duty hand-held reciprocating saw with bi-metal saw blades that have approximately 14 teeth per inch.
While preparing a cutout plan, make sure you can accommodate the locations of the cables existing each rack or node. Next, cut a cable hole in the raised floor tile within 6" to 21.5" wide and 6" to 17" deep to accommodate the cables you need to route. The hole you cut must be sized precisely, as a hole too large will weaken the raised floor tile and allow excessive cooling loss, while a hole too small will need to be enlarged, delaying the installation.
Computer floor tiles with a cable hole should also have a pedestal support if they are weight-bearing to maintain structural integrity, and the location of the hole should be adjusted to avoid pedestals and stringers.
Once cable cutouts are created in raised floor systems, owners have a few options to stop cold air loss and save energy. One option is PolarDAM foam, which prevents bypass air and recirculation by filling gaps. This self-forming foam conforms to any area, and it's ideal for filling cable cutouts after cables and hoses have been routed. A variety of grommets may also be installed in existing cut-outs with edge protection to prevent air loss.
Remember: whenever computer floor tiles are cut, they lose structural integrity. It's very important to have a plan in mind before cutting into raised floor systems, and this plan should allow for flexibility of the system. If done correctly, it can maximize the lifespan of the floor system. Cutting into a floor system too much is a lot like turning the floor into Swiss cheese; plan carefully and be strategic to avoid mistakes.