Which Scaffolding System Is Best? An Overview Of Scaffolding Products And Installations
There are many different types of scaffolding available on the market today. Dozens of brands such as Layher scaffolding and Kwikstage are available, and it can be hard to understand what product – and what scaffolding design – is right for your particular needs.
So, in this article, we’ll be going over some of the most common types of scaffolding systems and products, as well as typical designs and installations. We’ll also discuss a few things that you should consider when choosing an appropriate, high quality scaffolding system for your project.
Understanding The Most Common Types Of Scaffolding Products
There are hundreds of different scaffolding products on the market, built by nearly as many different brands. However, they primarily fall into the following two categories:
- Tube-and-coupler – Tube and coupler scaffolding is usually quite inexpensive, and it offers rock-solid reliability and performance. It’s built entirely out of strong steel tubing, using a variety of couplers to create vertical, horizontal, and diagonal supports.Each tube is joined to a coupler, which is locked in place. Then, multiple tubes and couplers are used to build the superstructure of the scaffolding.Because it’s highly modular, and can be custom-built to almost any specification, tube and coupler scaffolding is very useful for scaffolding projects with unique requirements, which cannot be fulfilled by off-the-shelf products.However, tube and coupler scaffolding usually must be assembled by a professional scaffolder, particularly if it is more than a few stories high. And, even if you do not hire a professional, it typically takes a lot more time to set up, compared to a pre-built product.
- Prefabricated scaffolding – Prefabricated scaffolding is much more popular for smaller, shorter projects, compared to tube and coupler scaffolding. There are many different types of prefabricated scaffolding, and all of them use different designs, architectures, and structural support methods.As the name implies, prefabricated scaffolding consists of unified sections of scaffolding, which can quickly be assembled into a working scaffolding installation.Usually, scaffolders are not required to assemble this scaffolding, especially for shorter scaffolding installations that are only a few stories high. They can be set up by workers quickly and easily, saving on installation costs.The primary drawback is that A-frame, H-frame, and similar prefabricated scaffolding installations often are more expensive, per-component, compared to tube and coupler scaffolding.
Depending on your construction project, either type of scaffolding may be appropriate, as long as they conform to WHS regulations for health and safety, and worker protection.
Common Scaffolding Designs – An Overview
Now that we’ve discussed the primary scaffolding materials used in construction in Australia, it’s time to discuss the different scaffolding designs that are most commonly used for construction projects of all sizes.
- Birdcage scaffold – This type of scaffold is typically used for work carried out on a single level, such as painting a ceiling. It consists of two or more rows of vertical members (standards) connected by horizontal braces (ledgers) and transoms, which hold the platform. They may require a professional scaffolder to assemble and disassemble, depending on the construction method used.
- Trestle scaffold – A trestle scaffold uses pre-built A-frame or H-frame scaffolding, which typically supports a single transom and a working platform. Because this type of scaffold usually requires minimal assembly, and is very simple to install, it does not usually need to be assembled by a professional scaffolder.
- Hung scaffold – A hung scaffold is any kind of scaffold platform that is hung from a support structure independently, and cannot be raised or lowered when in use.
- Single pole scaffold – Single pole scaffolds consist of only a single row of standards or uprights, which are connected by ledgers. These ledgers are then affixed to the wall of a building or other structure using putlogs.Due to this design, single pole scaffolds are very simple to put together, but the structure is reliant on the building upon which it leans for support, so this structure must be kept intact. In addition, no scaffolding components should be removed until the entire structure is dismantled, to keep it safe and structurally secure.
- Suspended (swing stage) scaffold – Suspended, also known as “swing stage” scaffolds are often used for mast climbing, as they can be a used as a mast work platform. They are suspended from a crane or another similar device, and allowed to swing freely, and raised and lowered when in use.These types of scaffold are often used by window washers and other who work on large skyscrapers and such buildings, as they can be easily moved, and traditional scaffolding simply cannot reach the heights required for these jobs.
- Tower/mobile scaffold – Mobile scaffolds can are built using four vertical standards, which support a single upper platform. These platforms are typically mounted on wheels, allowing for easy movement of the platform.These scaffolds can be built without a professional scaffolder if they are under the height of 4 metres, but a licensed scaffolder is required for heights exceeding 4 metres.
Choosing The Right Type Of Scaffolding For You – What To Consider
So, what type of scaffolding is right for you? Here are some things to consider when picking a scaffolding system for your next construction project.
- Budget – Your budget should be a primary consideration in the type of scaffolding that you use. For a shorter-term project, it usually makes sense to invest in modular scaffolding that can be put up and taken down quickly. This minimizes assembly costs.The cost of using a tube and coupler system that’s assembled by a professional can be lower in the long term, but offers few advantages for short-term projects.
- Time to erect and dismantle – Related to the above point, you must also consider how long it takes to put up a scaffold, and how long it takes to disassemble it. This is one reason that prefabricated A-frame and H-frame trestle scaffolds are so popular among painters and home contractors – they can be put up and taken down within minutes, allowing for more flexibility and portability.In contrast, tube and coupler scaffolding takes longer both to erect and to dismantle, making it a poor choice for professionals who must often move their scaffolds, or who only work on a project for a few days or weeks.
- Length of construction projects – If you are working on a long project that may take months or even a year to complete, it may be a good idea to invest in tube and coupler scaffolding. Heavy duty steel scaffold structures using cross braces, built with tubes and couplers, offer very strong working platforms that are much better alternatives to more temporary structure solutions.This is not to say that pre-assembled, or prefabricated scaffolding is a bad idea. But, in the long term, it often makes more sense to build your own scaffolding from scratch in the construction industry, especially if you are going to be using it for a very long time.
- Load capacity – Your scaffold working platforms must be able to handle the proper load – as does the rest of the structure. This is absolutely critical for scaffolding safety. As a rule, both types of scaffolding structure can support similar loads.However, some types of tube and coupler scaffolding can be made with shorter and thicker vertical and horizontal supports, and include more diagonal lashing and attachment points, increasing flexibility – and allowing for more load capacity.As a rule, if you are concerned with load capacity, you should consult with a structural engineer and a professional scaffolder, to design a system that will fulfill your needs.
- Configuration of the job site – Pre-built systems cannot be used in every situation. If you must create a scaffold that is oddly-shaped or otherwise must be created in an uncommon configuration, tube and coupler systems are usually a better choice, as they are more flexible.
- Health and safety code of practice adherence – No matter what system you use, it must be regularly inspected to make sure it adheres to the Scaffolds and Scaffolding work guidance materials from Safe Work Australia.
What Scaffolding System Is The Best?
There is no clear answer. What may be best for one project may not be the best choice for another – depending on the scope of your project, your budget, and the other factors outlined above.
Still confused? It’s best to consult with professionals such as Scaffold Australia, to make sure that you can get the right products for your next project. You can learn more by giving us a call at 1300 919 905, or contacting us online. Whether you’re looking for scaffolding hire and installation in Australia, or you want to scaffolding for sale, we’re here to help!