Vexcolt has an extensive history when providing expansion and control joints solutions for airports

It has been said that airports are simply shopping centres where planes are parked instead of cars and there is some truth in this statement. However, airports often encounter a wider range of traffic types and loads and selecting expansion joints and control joints that meet these conditions is a vital part of ensuring the long-term serviceability of the project.

At its simplest airports can be divided into three zones:

  1. Concourses including departure areas, arrival areas and walkways to link bridges.
  2. Connections between link bridges and concourses
  3. External front of house areas for passengers and traffic arriving at departure and arrival levels
  4. External back of house areas including baggage handling areas.


Expansion Joints

The design plan should accommodate extending expansion joints in the main concourses of airports into shops where required.  All expansion and control joints in airports must be robust and able to withstand high point loads as well as punishing levels of pedestrian traffic. High point loads often arise from the use of ‘cherry-pickers’ within airports to clean glass and facades. To accommodate ‘cherry pickers’ and ‘scissor lifts’ it is recommended that E11 loading capacity be considered as the minimum acceptable; E11 equates to a cherry picker of 36kN (3.6 tonnes) fully laden weight.

Control joints

Control joints in internal floors in airports should be laid to form bays to accommodate local moisture movement, such as the drying shrinkage of substrates. They are also used to compensate for small deflections arising from thermal expansion and contraction.

Typically, internal control joints are formed in maximum 6 metre x 6 metre bays in finishes laid on both ground-supported and suspended slabs. With suspended slabs control joints should also be laid directly over beams and at the mid-point of spans where anticipated creep deflection exceeds 20mm.

In high traffic environments such as airports it is strongly recommended that control joints with metal side plates are installed in floors. The reason is that these metal plates help protect and support the finishes from the worst rigours of impact and abrasion which can often result in cracking and spalling of the edges of paving.



Expansion joints

Link bridges connect entry and exit to and from planes and connect to the main concourse. They should be regarded as separate structures requiring expansion joints at this interface. As separate structures they will generally exhibit movement characteristics (horizontal, vertical and shear) that differ from that of the main terminal building. These movement characteristics must be factored into the selection of the appropriate type of expansion joint to use in these locations.


Expansion Joints

Expansion joints arise both in the external concourse and between airport terminal buildings and elevated roadways. Often such roadways are sub-divided by expansion joints and joints are also found between elevated roadways and link-bridges to multi-storey car parks at airports.

In these areas the load capacity of selected expansion joint systems is often a major consideration.

The provisions of Eurocode EN-1991-1-1 ‘Actions on structures – General actions, densities, self-weight and imposed loads for buildings’ should be referenced when specifying expansion joints for airport front of house areas. With respect to current Eurocodes it is suggested that loading from Type F (30kN/3.0 tonne passenger cars) and Type G (160kN/16 tonne passenger buses) is specified.

Regarding areas experiencing loading from delivery trucks and fire tenders the provisions of Eurocode EN 1991-2 ‘Traffic loads on bridges’ should be considered and a loading capacity as described in Load Model 2 of this Eurocode may be appropriate.

Control Joints

Control joints in external airport decks and floors should be laid to form 3 metre x 3 metre bays to accommodate local moisture movement and to compensate for the significant deflections arising from thermal expansion and contraction. Control joints in high traffic environments should have metal side plates to support the vulnerable edges of finishes.


Expansion Joints

External back of house areas including baggage handling areas may share the same movement characteristics as the main concourse but may exhibit differing loading requirements. It is therefore important to separately assess the types and gross loads of vehicles using these areas as part of the detailed specification process.


Vexcolt has years of experience supplying joints within airports. Projects include:

  • King Abdulaziz International Airport
  • Muscat International Airport
  • Faro Airport
  • Chek Lap Kok Airport
  • HKIA – Hong Kong International
  • Brandenburg International Airport
  • Heathrow Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Luton Airport
  • Indira Ghandi International Aiport
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport
  • Dubai Airport
  • Dallas Fort Worth

Feel free to ask for more information assistance technical support advice!

    Etiam magna arcu, ullamcorper ut pulvinar et, ornare sit amet ligula. Aliquam vitae bibendum lorem. Cras id dui lectus. Pellentesque nec felis tristique urna lacinia sollicitudin ac ac ex. Maecenas mattis faucibus condimentum. Curabitur imperdiet felis at est posuere bibendum. Sed quis nulla tellus.


    63739 street lorem ipsum City, Country


    +12 (0) 345 678 9