Exploring the Different Types of Scaffolding: A Complete Overview
Have you seen tall supportive structures on the exterior of tall buildings during construction?
You may have a rough idea that they are built to support the workers during construction. But what exactly are they called? - Scaffolding.
The main idea behind scaffolding is to work on the structure's upper levels. For instance, construction workers need a safe and stable platform to install windows, apply paint or exterior finishes, or even carry out repair work.
Scaffolding comes in diverse types based on the methods installed and how they are used in construction.
This article briefs you about the different types of scaffolding.
What is Scaffolding?
Technically, scaffolding is a temporary structure that is put up to provide support, access, and safety for construction, maintenance, or repair work on buildings or other structures.
It is assembled to create a safe and stable working area at different heights. So, workers can reach higher areas safely and do things like painting or installing stuff.
Also, this solid platform allows them to stand and move around, making it simpler to carry tools and materials to where they are needed.
Components of Scaffolding
Scaffolding comes with different components, such as:
Also known as uprights, standards are the vertical parts of the scaffolding framework that transfer the weight load to the baseplates and increase the scaffolding's overall height. It's supported on the ground, drums, or embedded into the ground and positioned at regular intervals along the scaffold's length.
Transoms are tubes that connect the ledgers at right angles to the face of the building using clamps, bolts, and couplers. Its work is to strengthen the structure further and create a platform for workers and materials.
Diagonal braces come with wedge locks that help stabilise the scaffold by connecting the standards and ledgers in a diagonal pattern, keeping them stable, and preventing collapsing or tipping over.
Ledgers are flat horizontal beams that run parallel to the wall and join between the standards, providing extra support and stability to the scaffold. Workers can only stand on the scaffolding and work with ledgers because it would be unstable.
Base or flat plates are placed at the bottom of each standard to prevent it from sinking into the ground. This helps distribute the weight and provide a stable footing for the scaffold.
Toe boards, which are either made of wood or metal, create the working platform where the workers can stand and work and support material weights. It is often secured with scaffolding wires, screws, or other components.
Guardrails, also called safety rails, mainly protect workers from falling off the structure. They are installed along the edges of the scaffolded platform and consist of a top rail, a mid rail, and a toe board.
Working platforms are of two types: suspended scaffolds and supported scaffolds. Suspended scaffolds are suspended from an overhead structure using scaffolding wire ropes or cables. The structure supports supported scaffolds and doesn't need to be hung from an overhead structure.
Sole boards are flat pieces placed under the base plate to distribute loads over a wide surface area.
Scaffolding wires are made of mild or galvanised steel and play a huge role in scaffolding construction. These wires are strong enough to tie together the scaffolding system components, including uprights, braces, and ledgers, to secure scaffolding platforms and walkways.
Also, they can be used in rigging heavy objects and securing scaffolding platforms and walkways. But it must be properly installed and secured. They are available in different gauges or thicknesses. On average, scaffolding wire is 18 gauge with 1.2mm in diameter.
Types of Scaffolding Based on How They Are Installed:
You can find different scaffolding types based on the methods by which they are installed, but primarily, there are three types:
Supported scaffolding type
As the name implies, supported scaffolding types are supported by fixed load-bearing elements such as poles, outriggers, the ground, or the building's framework.
This common scaffolding type consists of vertical standards, horizontal ledgers, diagonal braces, and transoms. Mostly, they are supported from the ground up and are considered the sturdy and reliable scaffolding of the construction world. So, no flying through the air for these platforms. You can keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and work.
Suspended scaffolding type
Have you seen workers hanging from tall buildings like Spider-Man? That's a quick example of a suspended scaffolding setup.
So, how does it stay up?
This type is also known as swing set scaffolding, which is suspended from an overhead structure using ropes, chains, or scaffolding wires. Scaffolding wire is used to tie the scaffolding platform to the suspension cables. It must be strong, durable, flexible, and galvanised to protect it from corrosion.
This type is the go-to choice for tasks such as painting, maintenance, or cleaning high up in the sky.
Mobile scaffolding type
Imagine a giant scaffolding roaming around the construction site like a majestic beast searching for the perfect spot. That's what mobile scaffolding is like. Also called rolling scaffolding or tower scaffolding, it is designed for easy movement and portability.
Being a hero of versatility, this scaffolding is used on construction sites where frequent repositioning of scaffolding is in high demand.
Other scaffolding types include:
This scaffolding type's sole purpose is erecting brick walls; accordingly, it's also called brick layer's scaffolding. It consists of standards, ledgers, putlogs, etc., and the framework is placed parallel to the wall at a distance of about 1.2 m.
A set of vertical members, also called standards, are fixed into the ground and parallel to the wall, erected at 2 to 2.5 m intervals.
Here, the ledgers connect the standards at 1.2 to 1.5 m vertical intervals. Putlogs are connected to the ledgers using rope lashing at one end of the scaffolds, while the other end of the putlogs is supported into the wall.
When tall structures are constructed, braces are fixed diagonally across standards to provide extra support and stability to the scaffolding framework.
This scaffolding type is also called independent or Mason's scaffolding, as they are used in masonry work such as stonework or bricklaying when the walls indirectly say, "You are not allowed to put a hole in me while building me," by staying super strong.
So, to build a strong and versatile scaffolding system, two rows of scaffolding are set up.
The first row stands about 20 to 30 cm away from the wall, and the second row is about 1 metre away from the first. The putlogs are placed and supported by both frames. Strong rakers and cross braces are added to make it more sturdy.
What if you can't find a ground to base your scaffolding framework on? That's where cantilever scaffolding comes into play. It is used when it isn't possible to use traditional scaffolding methods.
So, the standards are supported by a series of needles brought out through holes in the wall and are called single-frame type or dependent cantilever scaffolding.
In some cases, the needles are inserted into the inside of the building and are called independent or double-frame cantilever scaffolding.
Extra care must be taken while building a cantilever scaffold as they are often unsteadier than other types.
Steel or tubular scaffolding type
As the name implies, steel scaffolding is constructed using steel tubes fixed together by steel couplers or fittings.
Since constructing and dismantling steel scaffolding structures is straightforward and hassle-free and promises excellent strength, durability, and fire resistance, it is highly preferred in the construction industry. Since these are hollow steel tubes, it's also called tubular scaffolding.
Though it isn't affordable, it gives a big thumbs up for the worker's safety metric.
System scaffolding type
Want to become an overnight construction pro? This scaffolding type can help you. Since it mainly uses prefabricated vertical and horizontal members or components to connect systematically, it's highly sought after for complex and massive construction projects.
When it comes to safety, system scaffolding doesn't mess around. Because it can support more weight and handle the heaviest of materials like a breeze, it also has quick locking mechanisms such as rings, cups, and wedges and allows for faster assembly than traditional scaffolding mechanisms.
System scaffolding types come in a large variety, and some of the most popular types include:
Cuplock or ring lock scaffolding system
This scaffolding system, made of galvanised steel, can support heavy loads. It's quite popular for its unique locking mechanism, which is easy to set up without requiring components such as nuts and bolts. It consists of standards, ledgers, base plates, and transoms, which are connected through pre-engineered locking cups.
2. Kwikstage scaffolding system
Though it resembles the Cuplock scaffolding system and uses the same components, there is one difference. Instead of a cuplock system or locking cups, V-shaped fittings are used to connect the ledgers. Transoms secure the scaffolding system and link the inner and outer standards via V-shaped fittings.
3. Staircase tower or Haki scaffolding system
A scaffolding system with staircases allows for the construction of safe and stable staircase towers, facilitating easy access to different levels of the scaffolding structure.
The system's flexible design enables it to be used in complex and challenging construction environments. For instance, the workers can carry tools and equipment upstairs rather than climb ladders.
Also called trestle tower or trestle ladder scaffolding, this scaffolding comes with individual ladder-like supports called trestles. It is commonly preferred in low-height or light-duty applications and in places or tasks that don't demand significant height or heavy loads. For example, it can be used for work inside the room for painting, primarily up to a height of 5m.
While multiple types of scaffolding are constructed to support workers, one type helps support the building structure.
Have you seen bridges or buildings under construction supported by scaffolding and wondered what type that was? Well, that's shoring. The frame and brace systems support the permanent structure, like concrete slabs, until it gets self-sufficient to bear its load.
The primary purpose of shoring is to ensure the safety and integrity of the permanent structure during construction activities. Shoring helps prevent the premature collapse or failure of the structure while it is being worked on.
Patented scaffolding consists of pre-made steel scaffolds designed with specialised couplers and frames tailored to specific project needs. So, they're ready-made and don't require much assembling or installation. Its flexible working platforms on brackets can be adjusted to match the structure's height.
These are the different types of scaffolding systems used in the construction industry. But scaffolding also finds application in other industries such as shipbuilding, bridge construction work, etc. One must check if it's safe and secure despite its type before using it.
If it needs to be secured with scaffolding wire, bolts or clamps, ensure it's stable and fitted properly.
The Straight Wire manufactures and exports wire and steel products to different countries. As a scaffolding wire manufacturer, we take bulk orders and ensure you save your pocket. If you want to buy scaffolding wire for construction purposes, contact us.