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Scaffolding design

Scaffolding design: everything about types and innovative solutions

How to design a scaffolding? What are the available types? How to choose them? Here is the technical guide that helps you step by step

Scaffolding has existed for a very long time, perhaps since man began to build upwards. Since then, these structures have contributed to the possibility of expression in the architecture of different generations.

Before the innovation represented by the introduction of metal tubes in the early 1900s, scaffolding made extensive use of branches, wooden planks, or bamboo, connected with ropes, nails, and articulated interlocking games. These rudimentary systems, although effective, required considerable craftsmanship in their construction.

In this article, we will discover the different types of scaffolding, the most innovative solutions, and all the advantages related to the use of specific software for scaffolding design, with all aspects related to safety, documentation required for assembly, use and disassembly, and technical checks.

Drawing of a scaffolding made with CerTus-PN

Scaffolding design created with CerTus SCAFFOLDING

What are scaffolding?

Scaffolding, also known as a scaffold, is a fundamental component in the field of construction, representing a temporary grid structure with platforms. Its importance is crucial in any context where projects are carried out at height, defined as activities conducted at a height greater than 2 meters. The main purpose of the scaffolding is to prevent the fall of people and materials from above, ensuring a safe and efficient working environment.

The structure of the scaffolding can be made using a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum, and steel, based on the specific needs of the project. Positioned around the building, the scaffolding plays a crucial role in supporting the positioning of materials and facilitating the access of workers to different parts of the structure. Its versatility and adaptability make it an indispensable tool for optimizing the progress of construction works.

Safety plays a prominent role in the use of scaffolding, and its installation requires specialized skills. It is essential that the assembly process is supervised by professional figures capable of ensuring impeccable execution, following the project provided by a qualified technician. This approach not only ensures the correct functionality of the scaffolding but above all safeguards the safety of the workers who work on it. All this must already be foreseen in the project phase and detailed with a scaffolding design in order to minimize risks to the maximum.

The scaffolding design

The scaffolding design refers to the technical drawings and design plans for the support structures used in construction.

To achieve an optimal result, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  • Purpose: The scaffolding design is essential to ensure the safety and stability of the scaffolding during construction or maintenance work.
  • Components: These designs typically include details of the scaffolding components, such as frames, diagonals, platforms, and their connections, providing a complete view of the scaffolding design.
  • Regulations: An executive scaffolding design is necessary for scaffolding projects. This design must be drawn up by a qualified technician and is an essential part to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  • Software: There are specialized software tools that facilitate the creation of scaffolding designs, calculations, and the preparation of essential documents for safety compliance.
  • Projections: The scaffolding design should include projections that show how the scaffolding will be set up on the construction site, both on plans and elevations. In the case of building the BIM model of the scaffolding, all the 2D drawings of the design can be obtained from the 3D model.
  • Professional Services: Many companies offer services related to scaffolding design and can provide drawings and calculation reports for scaffolding to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

In summary, the scaffolding design is a technical drawing and a design plan for the support structures of the scaffolding, essential to ensure safety and compliance with regulations in construction projects. It should be prepared by qualified professionals and may involve specialized software tools.

What is the distinction between scaffolding design and planning?

The fundamental difference is that the scaffolding design is always mandatory and it is the responsibility of the Site Manager to carry it out, while planning is entrusted to an engineer or architect typically certified by professional Registration Boards.

In which scenario is a scaffolding project required?

The need to draw up this document exists on every construction site where scaffolding is used. The responsibility for its preparation falls on the employer, who must carefully assess the complexity of the scaffolding used and consider safety conditions.

Executive Design in Scaffolding: contents and purposes

The executive design of scaffolding represents a crucial element in ensuring safety and the correct execution of construction operations. This document, generally prepared by a qualified engineer or architect, plays a fundamental role in ensuring the compliance of the scaffolding with current regulations. Its importance is evident both in cases where a complete project is required, such as for scaffolding over 20 meters high or those for which specific structural configurations are not available, and when it comes to scaffolding that falls within the exempted standard schemes.

In a construction project, the executive design must be signed by the appointed engineer or architect and must contain all the necessary elements to define the scaffolding in terms of loads, stresses, and executive details. On the contrary, when a project is not required, the executive design must at least include crucial information such as the maximum overloads per square meter of the platform and the indication of the supports and anchorages.

The project drawing must comply with standard graphic conventions and must be represented on an appropriate scale, ensuring a complete understanding of the scaffolding configuration. Parts such as plans, elevations, and sections must be clearly represented, highlighting both cross-sections and projected parts. Dimensioning is an essential aspect of the design, providing detailed information on the dimensions of the object represented.

The use of BIM technology (Building Information Model) can greatly simplify the preparation of the executive design, allowing the creation of detailed three-dimensional models and the automatic generation of related documents, and the calculation of resistance and stability, if necessary. In addition, modern modeling software allows for a complete 3D visualization of the scaffolding, facilitating error checking and diagnostics.

Types of scaffolding

The choice of a scaffolding type represents a crucial decision, linked to various specific factors of the construction site, project, and the available space. The main types of scaffolding include:

  • tubes and couplers scaffolding,
  • prefabricated and with an H-frame or with a portal frame scaffolding,
  • upright scaffolding,
  • prefabricated and mixed uprights and cross-beams scaffolding,

each with unique characteristics and specific applications.

Tubes and couplers scaffolding

Tubes and couplers scaffolding is one of the oldest solutions, characterized by the connection of tubes through couplers, creating a highly modular and flexible structure. Its rooted history is manifested in its wide versatility, which, however, is accompanied by several critical aspects.

This system allows the connection of tubes of various lengths, offering the possibility of adapting the structure to any facade or artifact. Its intrinsic flexibility makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, including construction, restoration, shipbuilding, etc.


  1. High flexibility: the modularity of the system allows extraordinary adaptability to various forms of facades or artifacts.
  2. Dimensional adaptability: the possibility of connecting tubes of different lengths allows working in variable positions.


  1. Long assembly times: the assembly process requires prolonged times due to the need to connect numerous pieces.
  2. Specialized labor: installation requires highly skilled personnel to ensure correct execution.
  3. High overall costs: despite the low initial cost of purchasing the scaffolding, assembly is expensive, influencing overall costs.
Project of a scaffolding made with CerTus-PN

Scaffolding design project produced with CerTus SCAFFOLDING

Prefabricated frame scaffolding

Prefabricated frame scaffolding represents a construction solution consisting of standard metal frames of predefined height and depth, on which planks and guardrails are fixed. This system is known for its quick assembly and low costs, however, its limited flexibility makes it more suitable for linear and less complex structures. Integration with tube and fitting pieces may be necessary for specific configurations.

Prefabricated frame scaffolding finds its preferred use in renovations and constructions on regular and non-rough terrain. Its predefined structure limits the possibility of adapting to irregular configurations, which is why additional integrations through wooden planks or tube fittings are often required.


  1. Easy and fast assembly: the preparation of prefabricated frames allows for rapid assembly, significantly reducing assembly times.
  2. Low costs: compared to other types of scaffolding, this solution offers a significant economic advantage.


  1. Limited flexibility: the modular structure with a fixed size prevents infinite configurations, making it less adaptable to irregular structures.
  2. Need for additional integrations: to overcome structural limitations, additional wooden planks or tube fittings may be required.

Prefabricated mixed uprights and cross-beams scaffolding (multidirectional)

Prefabricated mixed uprights and cross-beams scaffolding, commonly known as multidirectional scaffolding, represents an advanced solution that combines the flexibility of the tubes and couplers system with the assembly speed typical of prefabricated frames. This system stands out for its ability to adapt to irregular and complex surfaces, making it particularly suitable for complex renovations and constructions with non-linear facades.

The assembly process of this scaffolding involves the connection of vertical metal tubes to perforated discs, offering the flexibility to connect horizontal and diagonal tubes of different sizes. This configuration ideally positions it halfway between prefabricated frames and the tubes and couplers system, combining their best features.


  1. Flexibility and dimensional adaptability: multidirectional scaffolding offers high versatility, allowing easy adaptation to various architectural configurations.
  2. Simplicity and assembly speed: compared to other solutions, the assembly process is faster, contributing to reducing overall operating times.


  1. Higher purchase costs: the innovation and complexity of the structure lead to higher initial costs compared to some types of scaffolding.
  2. Requires specialized labor: assembly requires specialized skills, increasing dependence on highly qualified labor.
  3. Documentation and authorizations: as with any type of scaffolding, extensive documentation and authorizations are required to ensure safety and regulatory compliance.
3D visualization of a scaffolding

3D visualization of a scaffolding

Innovative solutions: electric scaffolding for vertical work

In modern construction contexts, alongside traditional types of scaffolding, innovative solutions emerge that revolutionize the concept of access to vertical surfaces. In particular, electric scaffolding stands out for its mobility along the facade, offering flexible and versatile solutions for a wide range of applications. The main categories include those suspended on ropes, self-lifting, and self-propelled aerial platforms.

Movable scaffolding

This type of scaffolding consists of groups of electric material hoists connected to vertical modules and horizontal elements (beams). Its modular structure allows flexible dimensions, with the option of a single lifting group (single column) or two groups (double column) for longer platforms. The versatility of this solution allows work on irregular structures, thanks to telescopic parts and additional work planes.


  • Compliance with European standards, ensuring safety and speed in assembly/disassembly.
  • Safe transport of people and materials.
  • Electric control for effortless movement.
  • High precision in the working position.
  • Access to considerable heights with proportionally low assembly costs.


  • Not optimal for small and low structures.
  • Limited adaptation to irregular shapes.
  • Need for loading/unloading from trucks for lifting groups.

Suspended scaffolding with ropes

These scaffolds consist of modular platforms supported by ropes and operated by electrical material hoists. They require a flat surface (usually on the roof) for the installation of the support structure (beams, counterweights, and fixings).


  • Rapid assembly without anchoring.
  • Lightweight of the platform.
  • Suitable for reaching heights and complex structures.
  • Ideal solution when assembly from below is difficult.


  • Require skilled labor.
  • Limitations in loads and high-pressure work.

How to draw a scaffolding

After explaining what scaffolding is and what the different types are, here is a video that shows how to easily operate with a software for designing scaffolding.