Date of Award

August 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Weichiang Pang

Committee Member

Brandon Ross

Committee Member

Laura Redmond


Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is gaining momentum as a competitor to steel and concrete in the construction industry. However, with CLT being relatively new to North America, it is being held back from realizing its full potential by a lack of research in various areas, such as vibration serviceability. This has resulted in vague design guidelines, leading to either overly conservative designs, hurting profit margins, or leading to overly lenient designs, resulting in occupancy discomfort. Eliminating these design inefficiencies is paramount to expanding the use of CLT and creating a more sustainable construction industry.

This thesis focuses on the effect of a heavy topping, in this case 2" of concrete over a layer of rigid insulation, on a CLT floor. To this end, modal analysis was performed on two spans of three CLT panels in the Andy Quattlebaum Outdoor Education Center at Clemson University. By performing a series of instrumented heel-drop tests with a roving grid of accelerometers, the natural frequencies, mode shapes, frequency response functions, and damping coefficients were determined. By comparing the results to several different numerical models, the most appropriate model was selected for use in future design. In addition, a walking excitation test was performed to calculate the root mean square acceleration of the floor for comparison to current design standards.

This study found that, with a layer of rigid insulation separating the topping and the panel, the system behaved predictably like a non-composite system. The resultant mode shapes also verified that the boundary conditions behaved very close to “hinged” and showed that the combination of the surface splines and the continuous topping provide significant transverse continuity in terms of response to vibrations. Lastly, the results of the walking excitation test showed that, with some further study, the current design standards for steel vibration serviceability can be applied to great effect to CLT systems.



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