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Construction Guest PostThe Difference between Scaffolding and Formwork

June 24, 2021ukdatabase

The construction industry usually employs scaffolding and formwork to perform specific purposes. People may often get confused with the two terms. However, they are different, and they perform different functions.

The Usage

Construction teams usually use formwork whenever they need to mould wet concrete or hold it steadily in place so that it hardens and forms a particular shape. Formwork is therefore instrumental in the construction of beams, slabs, concrete columns and similar other structures. Thus, we can define formwork as the structures that hold wet concrete in place until it hardens and manages to support itself.


On the other hand, scaffolding refers to the temporary structures that the construction teams use as working platforms. Scaffolding facilitates the movement of the people working on the construction and the transportation of materials. During the construction, repairs, or maintenance, the workers need scaffolding to access parts of the building that would be difficult to reach.


Image source: Blitz Scaffolding Company

Ideally, scaffolding is easy to assemble and disassemble. It has to be robust and withstand weather conditions to prevent it from getting deformed or weak with time.


There are six types of scaffolding, whereas formwork has only two types.

  • Types of Scaffolding

The six types of scaffolding are:

  • Single scaffolds – They are made of a single framework of several components like putlogs, braces, wooden blocks, and ledgers. The scaffolding gets built parallel to the wall, usually at 1.2 meters distance. You can use it for bricklaying and on ordinary buildings.
  • Double scaffolds – It is also known as independent scaffolding and comprises two rows of scaffolding. Its application is usually in places where you cannot use single scaffolding.
  • Cantilever Scaffolds – These are typically used where the ground is too weak to support standards. It is also known as needle scaffolding and comes to use when the building requires construction on the upper part near the wall.
  • Suspended Scaffolds – It is made up of ropes and working platforms, supported manually or mechanically. Typically, the scaffolding is light and applies in light tasks such as painting and other finishing works.
  • Steel or Tubular Scaffolds – It is made up of steel tubes ranging in diameter from 1.5″ to 2.5.” Clamps or couplers hold the tubes, and they also have nuts and bolts and washers to tighten the steel pipes together.
  • Trestle Scaffolds – Tripod type moveable ladders support these scaffolds. They are used for indoor tasks like repairs and painting works. Their height does not go beyond five meters.


  • Types of Formwork

Some people refer to formwork as shuttering. It is good to note that formwork involves the use of a significant amount of money and consumes a lot of time. Generally, formwork can be categorized into two types based on the materials used to make it.

As such, there are two types, namely steel and wooden. Steel formwork comprises steel sheets, tee iron, and angle iron. On the other hand, wooden formwork consists of plank battens, props, sheeting, and ledgers.

Important Points to Note

One of the key things to note is that formwork and scaffolding are all different and are used for entirely different functions. They also have completely different requirements. When working with scaffolding, it needs to be easy to construct or assemble and provide the workers with an easy time dismantling it.

The scaffolds should contain broad enough platforms to enable easy transportation of materials and allow people to walk freely. It needs to be robust so that harsh climatic conditions cannot affect it because it needs to be in place for the entire building period.

Whereas S=scaffolding gets dismantled immediately after the construction work comes to completion, formwork remains in place until the concrete cures completely. The concrete has to dry enough to support its own weight before the formwork can be removed.

Safety Precautions for Scaffolding and Formwork

Your safety is vital, and you have to maintain proper handling of scaffolding and formwork. Hit is good to handle both with care so that you do not get injured.

Before you place any load on scaffolding, ensure that it can support the weight. Do not underestimate the dead load of the scaffolding itself. For formwork, ensure that it can support the wet concrete being poured into it. The formwork will stay put until the concrete heals and dries completely.

The concrete can only support itself after it dries. The process may take several days, but it is a safety precaution to prevent the collapse of the concrete. Remember to contact an expert whenever you are unsure of the type of formwork to use. You should also seek an expert’s opinion whenever you are uncertain whether the scaffolding you are planning to use will be safe.

Remember that safety is paramount in any construction work.


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