How to Connect a Computer Network in Raised Floors

What You'll Need
CAT 5/6 cable
Network sockets
RJ45 crimpers
Patch panel
Cat 5 punch down tool
Network switch/hub

Computer raised floors are common because they allow various cables to pass underneath the floor without them being visible. Most of these floors have access hatches built in to them which makes it very easy to lift and lay new cables.

Installing a wired computer network is actually a pretty easy job as long as you have the right tools and materials available.

 Step 1 - Planning the Network

The first thing that you need to do is plan your network this is very easy but does require some careful consideration. Think about the location of the network sockets to ensure that there is one in the right place wherever you need one. Wherever you have a computer or printer you will need to fit a network socket. For each network socket you will need a single run of cable back to a central place somewhere in your building. Measure the distances required for each cable run and total it all up so that you know exactly how much cable will be required to complete the job.

Fitting an extra socket or two now will be very cheap and fairly easy. If you are considering expanding then you should wire up the extra offices now rather than waiting.

Step 2 - Buying Materials

Now you will need to buy the materials required for your network. The cheapest way to buy the network cable is in rolls, buy as many rolls of whichever cable you want to use. The only difference between Cat 5 and 6 is the speed that they can run at. Cat 6 is a superior cable which can run at faster speeds, however it is also much more expensive. Another option would be using fibre optic networking, however this is well out of the reach of most people.

Step 3 - Laying the Wires

The wires need to be laid underneath the raised floor using the access hatches. Chisel up the wall and fit a box in exactly the same way as fitting an electrical socket. Now use your punch down tool to connect the CAT5 cable to the socket and screw the face plate on.

The other end of the wire should be either connected to a patch panel or connected to an RJ45 plug. The professional way to do this is to terminate everything in a patch panel and then use short patch leads to make connections between the cables and the network switch or hub.

Step 4 - Making Leads

Now you need to use a pair of RJ45 crimpers with some RJ45 plugs to connect your cables to the ends of the wires, this is a little fiddly at first but you do get the hang of it. These wires will then be used to connect the computer to the network sockets. Once everything is successfully connected to the switch you should be able to try it out and make sure it all works.

Another option would be using a wireless network, these are much easier to install but are much more unreliable. Going down the cabled route will save you a lot of heartache in the future.