What is Scaffolding?
Scaffolding is a temporary structure used by work crews during building work. It’s used to elevate and support people and building materials during the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings and other structures.
Read more: When Is Scaffolding Required?
Scaffolding Material Types
The most common scaffolding materials for scaffolding tubes themselves are steel and aluminium, with wood sometimes being used for small-scale projects. Wood is instead commonly used for the scaffold board to support the weight of workers and materials when on the project.
Non-conductive scaffolding materials are also used for specific projects where scaffolding may need to be close to electrical wiring.
There are three basic types of scaffolding:
1 – Supported Scaffolding
Supported scaffolding is the most common type of scaffolding and probably the one you picture when you think of exterior scaffolding. It is used for construction projects where elevation is required to complete the work. It is often built from the base upwards.
It is the most common because it is generally the most cost-effective, simplest to assemble and safest when working on most jobs where scaffolding is required on the outside of a building or structure.
2 – Suspended Scaffolding
Suspended scaffolding is scaffolding that is supported by ropes via a higher, overhead structure. This type of scaffolding is more common on larger construction projects where supported scaffolding may not be cost-effective or suitable. It’s also used when there are more complex access requirements.
An example of suspended scaffolding is the platform for window cleaners on large office buildings. This scaffolding allows for the platform to be moved to the different working heights without the use of supported scaffolding surrounding the building.
3 – Rolling/Mobile Scaffolding
Rolling/mobile scaffolding is used on projects where the scaffolding needs to be moved and repositioned frequently. Rolling and mobile scaffolding can be used for both interior and exterior projects such as repair work, painting and decorating and lighting installation to name a few.
Key Scaffolding Types
Below we list the most common types of scaffolding and a brief description of their common uses:
- Trestle Scaffolding – Scaffolding consisting of a metal support frame, often at either end of horizontal wooden planks, used to support construction or repair work.
- Tube and Coupler Scaffolding (or Tube and Clamp Scaffolding) – Versatile scaffolding consisting of tubes and clamps, where vertical and horizontal tubes can be connected flexibly.
- Patented scaffolding – Available readymade to hire or buy and are secured with a locking arrangement that differs from tube and coupler scaffolding. Easy to assemble and disassemble.
- Cantilever Scaffolding – Constructed to angle out from a building, often used when the ground is unstable and/or the scaffolding cannot block a public pathway. The scaffolding is supported via a platform below or on a balcony.
- Putlog Scaffolding – A single row of standards attached to a ledger at one end and integrated into bricks at the other end.
- Single Scaffolding – Scaffolding set parallel to a wall and is usually used to provide a stable platform for brickwork.
- Double Scaffolding – Scaffolding used in instances where it is difficult or not possible to make holes in the structure to support putlogs. Two rows of scaffolding are instead constructed next to the building wall to support workers and materials while not interfering with the existing structure.
- Kwikstage/Quickstage Scaffolding – Kwikstage scaffolding is a type of scaffolding known for its ability to be adapted and built quickly, without loose fittings.
- Independent Tied Scaffolding – Similar to double scaffolding, independent tied scaffolding consists of two sets of standards set close but away from the wall of the structure so it is constructed independently of the structure.
- Working Platform – A structure offering a raised platform for construction or repair work. They can be used indoors or outdoors and can be used for work at a range of heights. The term working platform is also sometimes used interchangeably with scaffolding.
- Birdcage Scaffolding – Scaffolding consisting of more than two sets of standards, using ledgers at every height required. Used across large areas where continuous access at different levels is needed. The number of connecting standards and ledgers gives the scaffolding the appearance of a birdcage.
- System Scaffolding – An alternative to tube and coupler scaffolding, system scaffolding is quicker to erect and does not use as many fitting connections.
- Cuplock Scaffolding – Galvanised scaffolding that uses a cup and blade arrangement to connect standards and ledgers.
- Scaffold Tower – Independent, self-contained scaffolding that can be erected next to buildings often for repair work. Can be used internally or externally and is often mobile/rolling for easy manoeuvring.
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