The most common types of scaffolds

Scaffold is a structure that temporarily placed around a building in progress to assist with the construction process, whether it is used to hold workers and materials or to provide additional support to the structure. In Australia there is an abundance of professional scaffolding services for hire nationwide. It is important to understand the several different types so that you order the correct service for your building. Here are the most common types.

Single/bricklayer’s scaffolding

This type is often used in brick masonry and involves ‘standards’ (timber/bamboo vertical members) fixed parallel to the building, connected by ‘ledgers’ (longitudinal horizontal members) with rope and ‘putlogs’ (transverse horizontal members) which lie on the ledgers on one end and are fixed into holes drilled into the buildings on the other end.

Services may also use ‘braces’ (diagonal members) to provide further support, however this is usually only in the case of very tall structures.

Double/mason’s scaffolding

This type is often used in stone masonry and hence is much stronger than its single bricklayer counterpart. The main differences between these two types include:

  • Two rows instead of one: in a bricklayer’s setting only a single row is used. The mason’s structure involves a row fixed close to the building and another row fixed 1.5m behind that row, hence the name.
  • No wall fixture and hence no hole: while the bricklayer’s putlog requires one end to be fixed into the wall, the double structure does not require a wall fixture as both ends are supported by ledgers, and hence there is no need to drill a hole into the wall.

Cantilever/needle scaffolding

This type involves placing the standards above ground on a platform called the ‘needle’, hence its name. This type is used either when the ground is not capable of supporting standards, when there is a need to free up space for pedestrian access or in the case of construction at high levels.

Steel scaffolding

This type is highly similar to the bricklayer’s or mason’s construction, with the main differences being:

  • The use of steel tubes instead of timber
  • The use of steel couplings instead of rope
  • The use of a base plate as a base for fixing instead of the ground

The standards are welded into the base plate in order to remain fixed. There are a number of advantages to using this particular type of construction, including:

  • Faster construction and deconstruction. Compared to timber, steel scaffolding is much easier and faster to assemble and disassemble, cutting down on construction time
  • Steel is more economical for a long term project compared to timber
  • Fire-resistance. A steel construction is less likely to catch fire
  • The durability of steel means it is safe to use at high or low heights

Suspended scaffolding

This type of support involves suspending a platform from a roof with the support of wires or ropes. The platform height can be increased or decreased to whatever level is required. Naturally this is only suitable for repairing, repainting etc.

Trestle scaffolding

This type involves a movable platform used for interior work, usually only up to a short height (not more than 5m). As such it is only suitable for painting or repairs.

Patented scaffoldings

Certain constructions can be patented, meaning they are more modular and do not depend on the use of steel tubes and timber but on specially designed elements that can be rearranged depending on your requirements.

As such, they are quicker to build and disassemble and are more rigid, however they are often more costly to utilise.

Choosing the right option

It’s important that you choose the right scaffolding for the right job, as a poor choice may not only be uneconomic in long run, but also pose safety issues for construction workers on your site.