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  • Writer's pictureRalph Isenberg

Supported Scaffolding Types And When They Should Be Used

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Scaffolding comes in several types. Among those types is supported scaffolding, which has strong ground supports and can hold immense weight.

If you have seen a building under construction or renovation, you have no doubt seen scaffolding around it. Scaffolding is such a large part of modern society, especially in cities, that there are even quite a few popular comedy sketches about it. Scaffolding is the temporary structure built around work areas that are used to help people reach high-up spaces. It’s been in use since ancient times when it was made from wood and bamboo. Nowadays, scaffolds are made from steel, rope, and sometimes still include wood.

Types of scaffolds

There are dozens of types of scaffolds. They break down into two main categories:

  1. Suspended scaffolds These are anchored to a strong permanent structure, such as roofing or beams. They hang on rope, strong wire, or other movable material.

  2. Supported scaffolds These are anchored to the ground with strong supporting materials such as frames, outriggers, poles, etc. Supported scaffolds can support significant weight.

Some might also consider vehicles, such as scissor and aerial lifts to be scaffolds, because they have the same function. Because these rest on the ground, they could also fall into the supported scaffold category.

This article will go into detail about the types of supported scaffolds and their uses.

Supported scaffold types and their uses

  1. Frame or fabricated Fabricated frame scaffolds are the most common type because they are cheap to purchase/construct, easy to use, and versatile. They have a base section, often composed of feet that touch the ground. These legs go up to the first tier, which has a platform that workers can move freely on. Thanks to their modular design, they can be multiple stories tall. Typically, construction contractors will use these for 1 or 2 story heights for residential work. On commercial work, such as offices or industrial facilities, they may go much higher.

  2. Mobile scaffolds These are scaffolds often used by painters, that rest on wheels or casters. They are used in situations where the workers must frequently change positions. They are also used for plastering and renovating purposes like wallpapering or removing materials from walls.

  3. Pole/wood pole Scaffolds in which the entire structure, supports, platforms, and all, is made of wood. There are two main types of pole scaffolds: single and double. Single-pole scaffolds receive support on their interior side from a structure or wall. Double-pole scaffolds are supported by two poles that go vertically and are independent of any structure. Because these scaffold types are made from scratch, and out of wood, they are not used as frequently in modern buildings. They are used most often when the loads they need to support are lighter and when other scaffolding is not feasible or available.

  4. Tube and coupler These scaffolds are built from tubes connected by coupling devices. They are heavy-duty scaffolds that can carry extremely high load weights. They can also go up several stories. Finally, tube and coupler scaffolds are highly versatile, because they can be assembled in various directions and shapes. However, this also means that they can be difficult to correctly — and safely — assemble.

  5. Ladder jack Just about every commercial contractor has seen this type of scaffold. These are simply constructed by resting a platform on brackets attached to a ladder. This makes them extremely mobile, cheap, and usable in different situations, hence their widespread use. Of course, given their minimalism, they are best used for lower-weight applications.

  6. Mast climbers Mast climbers are moving platforms that can be raised or lowered along with a strong scaffold structure (the mast). They can be freestanding, but will often be tied to a structure to achieve better heights. For lower heights, mast climbers can be based on mobile platforms. Mast climbers are surprisingly versatile scaffolds. Because they have smaller bases, they can be used in situations where ground space is limited. They also have guard rails, which help reduce worker injury and falling equipment. Due to their adjustable platforms, they can be finely positioned. This helps reduce back and neck strain on workers. It also helps reduce fatigue, as contractors don’t have to stretch as much to reach various heights. Finally, mast climbers can also be easily customized and loaded with various machinery. Mast climbers have many uses, but they are significantly more expensive than other scaffolding types.

  7. Pumpjack This design is a moveable platform on vertical poles. The brackets can be raised or lowered in a way similar to a jack used to lift up a car. They are relatively easy to set up and highly customizable. They are also a cheaper option than mast climbers, making them an economical option for when you want a moving platform scaffold.

  8. Specialty scaffolds These types are rarely used due to their relatively special application range.

a. Large-area scaffolds

These are typically fabricated frames, tube and coupler, and pole scaffolds. They are specially constructed to have a larger than usual platform. This allows a greater range for workers and is why they are often called plasterers’ and decorators’ scaffolds.

b. Bricklayers square scaffolds

Made of wood with reinforced gussets on each side and corner, they also use diagonal braces. These scaffolds have specific guidelines.

c. Horse scaffolds

These are made by stacking construction “horses” on each other or putting platforms on a layer of said horses.

d. Form or carpenters’ bracket scaffolds

These are platforms mounted on brackets. The brackets are mounted to structural supports with nails, metal studs, welding, hooks, bolts, or other secure attachment devices.

e. Roof bracket scaffolds

These are mounted on rooftops with special triangular brackets. The brackets fit the slope of the roof, enabling the platforms to be level.

f. Outrigger scaffolds

Outriggers are triangular brackets that clamp to the bottom of a scaffold tower. The outriggers may be placed on the ground, in some cases, the outriggers are placed on structural beams. They are securely clamped in place and support the scaffolding above. These complex scaffolds must be designed by a professional engineer.

g. Window jack scaffolds

These are scaffolds that use window openings as anchor points. Only one worker can occupy the scaffold platform at a time.

h. Crawling boards/chicken ladders

These are boards with grips placed along a sloped roof. They enable workers to find purchases when moving up and down the rooftop.

i. Ladder scaffolds

Ladder scaffolds can be made by placing a platform on a step, trestle, and platform ladders. The platform must be placed no higher than the second rung of the ladders.

j. Stilts

Stilts are raised platforms on poles that workers walk on by means of footrests. They are used to increase the height of an individual worker.

Get proper support for your construction project

If you still aren’t sure what scaffolding is right for your project- then why not leave it up to the pros? Reliable Commercial Construction has been in this business for over 35 years. We know the tried and true methods, and the cutting edge of building, and we make certain that safety is our number one priority. Whether you need renovation, new construction, or something else, don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free quote.


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