Low amplitude cyclic vertical motions of flat floors that humans find unacceptable are commonly caused by impacts resulting from their own activities or those of other people. It is therefore a goal of engineering design to identify and avoid construction methods prone to creation of motions that make floors unserviceable for an intended type of building occupancy. In some instances use of engineered wood products as construction materials results in floors having unacceptable vibration performances. Usually this is because floors exhibit modal frequencies and mode shapes that cause human perceptory organs to resonate or accelerate. This paper addresses vibration response characteristics of one-way spanning floors constructed using widely spaced glulam beams and transverse glulam deck elements. The vehicles for gaining understanding of such systems are experiments and finite element models.
A timber-concrete composite (TCC) combines timber and concrete, utilising the complementary properties of each material. The composite is designed in such a way that the timber resists combined tension and bending, whilst the concrete resists combined compression and bending. This construction technique can be used either in new build construction, or in refurbishment, for upgrading existing timber structures. Its use is most prolific in continental Europe, Australasia, and the United States of America but has yet to be widely used in the United Kingdom. To date, the topping upgrades used have been 40mm thick or greater. Depending on the choice of shear connection, this can lead to a four-fold increase in strength and stiffness of the floor. However, in many practical refurbishment situations, such a large increase in stiffness is not required, therefore a thinner topping can suffice. The overarching aim of this study has been to develop a thin (20mm) topping timber-concrete composite upgrade with a view to improving the serviceability performance of existing timber floors. Particular emphasis was given to developing an understanding of how the upgrade changes the stiffness and transient vibration response of a timber floor. Initially, an analytical study was carried out to define an appropriate topping thickness. An experimental testing programme was then completed to: characterise suitable shear connectors under static and cyclic loads, assess the benefit of the upgrade to the short-term bending performance of panels and floors, and evaluate the influence of the upgrade on the transient vibration response of a floor. For refurbishing timber floors, a 20mm thick topping sufficiently increased the bending stiffness and improved the transient vibration response. The stiffness of the screw connectors was influenced by the thickness of the topping and the inclination of the screws. During the short-term bending tests, the gamma method provided a non-conservative prediction of composite bending stiffness. In the majority of cases the modal frequencies of the floors tested increased after upgrade, whilst the damping ratios decreased. The upgrade system was shown to be robust as cracking of the topping did not influence the short-term bending performance of panels. Thin topping TCC upgrades offer a practical and effective solution to building practitioners, for improving the serviceability performance of existing timber floors.