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Load Paths and

Tributary Area Examples

© T. Bartlett Quimby, 2007

A Beginner’s Guide to Structural

Alaska State Fairgrounds
Farm Exhibits Building
Palmer, Alaska
Long Span Roof Truss Girders Mezzanine Area Awning Roof

Awning Roof with

Hip Beam

A large open exhibit building with long

span truss girders.
Roof deck transfers load
Each joist supports to supporting joists.
an area equal to its
span times half the
distance to the joist
on either side.
Load rests on roof deck

The joists transfer The pier supports half the

their loads to the area supported by the truss
supporting truss Each truss
girdergirder supports
plus area from an
girders. area equal to itselements
structural span times
that it
half the distance to the girder
The truss girders
on either side.
transfer their loads
to the supporting
piers and columns.

Long Span Roof Load Path

The girders are not The area tributary to a
single span so the joist equals the length of
tributary area for the the joist times the sum of
columns cannot be half the distance to each
graphically determined adjacent joist.

The area tributary to a girder

equals the length of the
girder times the sum of half
the distance to each adjacent
Columns Support Girders Girders Support Joists
Metal Deck/Slab System
Supports Floor Loads Above

Joists Support Floor Deck

Mezzanine Floor System

The point load consists of
the reaction from the two
supported joists which
equals the tributary area (1/2
the cantilever span times the
spacing joist
of the
load to
the pressure
load on
the floorbeam
plus ends
the self weight
of the joist.

The load diagram for the

cantilever (excluding self wt)
consists of a single point
load at the end of the
Deck carries load to edge
joist and wall.

Cantilever Loads
End Wall
The beam-columns do
not support
For lateral any roof
pressures, the
load, they are here
siding spans between the to
resist lateral forces
horizontal that
girts (yet
they fancy
another receive from
word forthe
girts. They support
beam!) an
area that extendshalf
girts support from the
siding to the
locations adjacent
half way to thegirts.
This is the
adjacent tributary area
on each sidefor andone girt.
floor to roof as shown.
The girts transfer their
lateral load to the
The beam-columns
supporting beam-
transfer their lateral
loads equally to the roof
and foundation.
Hip Beam

This beam picks up load from

joists of varying lengths. In
this case the resulting load
distribution would have a The hip beam also picks up a
linearly varying component. point load reaction from a pair
The illustrated area is part of of the roof girders.
the tributary area at the roof
deck level.