These are the 3 most commonly used types of scaffolding: tube and coupler scaffolding, prefabricated frame scaffolding, and prefabricated uprights and crossbars. Explore their characteristics and differences.
Scaffolding structures are essential in construction sites for building works, but they have a limited lifespan. The most used types of scaffolding include:
- Tubes and Coupler Scaffoldings;
- Prefabricated Frame Scaffoldings;
- Cuplock or kwikstage scaffolding.
The choice between these depends on various factors: the site’s characteristics, the construction’s nature, available space, and more. But what are their main differences? In this article, discover the features in order to select the most suitable scaffolding type.
To avoid mistakes in selection, it’s advisable to rely on scaffolding software with 3D input and a BIM object catalog for designing scaffolding elements in a plan or directly in 3D view. Moreover, you can model a mixed scaffold where some decks are prefabricated frames and others are tubes and couplers, starting from a prefabricated scaffold.
What Are Scaffolds?
Scaffolding in construction sites (also called structures) are temporary service works set up for construction, maintenance and recovery of building works. They are essential in working at heights exceeding 2 meters from a stable plane to prevent materials and workers falling from above.
Types of Scaffolding
The choice of a specific scaffolding type should align with the site’s characteristics where it will be set up, construction’s complexity, available space, etc.
Moreover, it should consider the load type, construction elements’ type and the performance and geometric requirements within the usage booklet. How many types of scaffolding exist currently? There are various types, categorized as fixed and mobile (or electric).
The most used fixed scaffoldings include:
- tube and coupler;
- prefabricated frame;
- prefabricated uprights and crossbars (multidirectional).
Tubes and Coupler Scaffoldings
Tube and coupler scaffolding involve connecting two tubes through a joint that fixes them in the desired position. This structure offers great versatility by enabling the connection of tubes of different lengths in any position, leading to numerous scaffold combinations.
This characteristic allows tube and coupler scaffolding to adapt to any facade or structure even with peculiar shapes. It’s primarily used for internal and external restoration works, construction, shipbuilding and stage setups.
The advantages of this scaffolding type include:
- high flexibility;
- dimensional adaptability.
Its disadvantages, however, include:
- long assembly times;
- requirement for specialized labor;
- overall costs, despite the low purchase cost of the scaffolding, assembly proves to be a rather labor-intensive activity.
Prefabricated Frame Scaffoldings
Prefabricated frame scaffolding involves connecting standard-height and depth metallic frames (prefabricated) on which planks and guardrails are fixed. This type of scaffolding is used in renovations and constructions on regular and non-uneven terrains. Unlike the previous system, prefabricated frame scaffolding is less versatile, requiring additional integration through wooden boards or jointed tubes.
The advantages of this scaffolding type include:
- ease and speed of assembly;
- contained costs.
However, the disadvantages primarily relate to reduced flexibility as fixed-size modules limit combinations and adapting to irregular structures.
Cuplock or kwikstage scaffolding
Prefabricated uprights and crossbars scaffolding, also known as multidirectional scaffolding, combine the advantages of the previous types. It has the flexibility of tube and coupler systems and the speed of assembly and disassembly of prefabricated frame systems. This scaffolding type is optimal when the facade isn’t a flat surface but has voids, recesses, etc., easily filled with this type of scaffolding. The disadvantage is associated with the need for specialized labor for assembly.
Advantages of this scaffolding type include:
- dimensional flexibility and adaptability;
- simplicity and speed of assembly.
In addition to these types, there are electric scaffolding types that can move along the facade. The main ones include:
- suspended by ropes, used in situations where bottom-up assembly becomes complicated or impossible;
- self-lifting, used on taller or larger buildings (like skyscrapers) and operates with a rack system that lifts the base as if it were an elevator;
- aerial platforms (cranes), used for specific and urgent interventions without long assembly timing.
Scaffolding is a crucial element in construction sites. Falls from heights still represent one of the primary causes of workplace accidents, often fatal. These accidents are frequently due to scaffolding design errors. To perform the scaffolding’s structural calculation correctly, I recommend trying out a scaffolding calculation software that also provides all documents and verifications required by safety regulations for scaffolding.