Scaffolding 101: What Is It and How Does It Work?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 13, 2022
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Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support workers and materials at height during construction, maintenance, and other tasks. It’s typically made of aluminum or steel and can be quickly assembled on site.

In this article, I’ll provide an overview of scaffolding and its uses.

What is scaffolding

Understanding the Technicalities of Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a temporary structure that is used in construction work to support workers, tools, and materials at a height. It is mainly used for building and repairing buildings, bridges, towers, and other structures. Scaffolding is an essential part of construction work, and it requires technical knowledge to set up and use.

Types of Scaffolding

There are different types of scaffolding, and they vary depending on the type of work required. The most common types of scaffolding are:

  • Single Scaffolding: This type of scaffolding is also referred to as brick layer’s scaffolding. It is mainly used for stone masonry work and is set up close to the building’s ground level.
  • Double Scaffolding: This type of scaffolding is also referred to as mason’s scaffolding. It is used for stone masonry work and is set up away from the building’s ground level.
  • Steel Scaffolding: This type of scaffolding is widely used today and is made of steel tubes. It is strong and can carry heavy loads.
  • Cantilever Scaffolding: This type of scaffolding is used when the ground is not suitable for setting up scaffolding. It is extended from a building’s upper level and is supported by chains or wire ropes.
  • Specialty Scaffolding: This type of scaffolding is used for complex construction work and requires technical knowledge to set up and use.

Materials Used in Scaffolding

In the past, wood was the main material used in scaffolding. However, with the advent of steel, steel scaffolding became widely used. Today, scaffolding is made of different materials, depending on the type of work required. The materials used in scaffolding include:

  • Wood: Used mainly for single scaffolding.
  • Steel: Used for steel scaffolding.
  • Aluminum: Used for lightweight scaffolding.
  • Nylon: Used for safety purposes.

Safety Measures

Scaffolding is a dangerous job, and safety measures are required to ensure the safety of workers. The safety measures include:

  • Using safety belts and harnesses.
  • Ensuring that the scaffolding is set up correctly.
  • Using the right materials for the job.
  • Regular inspection of the scaffolding.
  • Following safety guidelines.

Aesthetics and Scale

Despite being a technical structure, scaffolding can also be used for aesthetic purposes. In some cities, scaffolding is equipped with fans and arranged in a fan-like form to create an aesthetic effect. Scaffolding can also be used to switch the scale of a building, making it look more significant or smaller than it is.

The Evolution of Scaffolding Structures

Soon, standardized parts and systems followed, and the industry gained a patented device called the Scaffixer, commissioned by the Berlin Foundry Ltd. This device improved the process of coupling and gained widespread use. The tie was also improved, and water tie was introduced, which improved the stability of the scaffold.

Modern Day Scaffolding

Today, scaffolding is a standardized and regulated industry, with strict safety standards and practices in place. The use of modern materials and technology has improved the safety and efficiency of the process, with the use of computer-aided design and the development of new materials such as aluminum and composite materials.

The Anatomy of a Scaffolding Structure

Ledgers and transoms are horizontal elements that connect the standards together to provide support and stability to the structure. They are typically made of steel and come in a range of lengths to suit the width of the structure.

The way in which ledgers and transoms are connected to the standards is crucial to the overall performance of the scaffolding structure. This is typically done using pins that are inserted into the standards at an angle to prevent them from slipping out.

The Role of Intermediate Transoms and Stand-off Brackets in a Scaffolding Structure

Intermediate transoms are used to provide additional support to the structure and are placed between the ledgers. They are typically made of steel and come in a range of lengths to suit the width of the structure.

Stand-off brackets are used to provide additional support to the structure when it is placed against a building or other structure. They are typically made of steel and come in a range of sizes to suit the specific needs of the structure.

The use of intermediate transoms and stand-off brackets allows for greater flexibility in the design of the scaffolding structure and provides additional support for heavy loads or short working heights.

The Benefits of Using Steel Scaffolding Components

Steel is widely regarded as the best material for scaffolding components due to its strength, durability, and ability to carry heavy loads. Steel scaffolding components are also typically lighter and easier to handle than wooden components, making them a popular choice for construction projects.

In addition, steel scaffolding components provide a good alternative to wooden components as they are less susceptible to rot, insect damage, and other hazards that can compromise the safety of workers.

The Different Kinds of Scaffolds Available

There are numerous kinds of scaffolds available, each designed to suit specific needs and requirements. Some of the most common types of scaffolds include:

  • Single scaffolding: Also known as bricklayer’s scaffolding, this type of scaffold is typically used for buildings that are wider than they are high.
  • Double scaffolding: Also known as mason’s scaffolding, this type of scaffold is typically used for buildings that are higher than they are wide.
  • Cantilever scaffolding: This type of scaffold is typically used when it is not possible to place the standards directly beneath the work area.
  • Steel scaffolding: This type of scaffold is typically used for construction projects that require a high degree of strength and durability.
  • Specialty scaffolding: This type of scaffold is designed for specific needs and requirements, such as scaffolding for bridges or other large structures.

The choice of scaffold depends on a range of factors, including the specific needs of the project, the height of the building, and the materials being used.

The Single Scaffolding: A Basic and Widely Used Type in Construction

Single scaffolding is a widely used type of scaffolding in the construction industry because it is simple to set up and easy to use. It is also commonly used for maintenance work on buildings and structures. The use of steel as the primary material for single scaffolding makes it strong and able to carry a great amount of weight. It is also widely available in the market, making it an ideal choice for many construction companies.

What are the Components of Single Scaffolding?

The main components of single scaffolding include:

  • Standards: Vertical supports that stand parallel to the building or structure.
  • Ledgers: Horizontal supports that connect to the standards at an even vertical angle.
  • Putlogs: Small horizontal tubes that connect to the ledgers and are inserted into the holes in the building or structure to provide support.

What are the Differences between Single Scaffolding and Other Types of Scaffolding?

The main difference between single scaffolding and other types of scaffolding is the way it connects to the building or structure. Single scaffolding is connected horizontally to the building or structure, while other types of scaffolding, such as double scaffolding, are connected vertically and horizontally. Single scaffolding is also generally used for shorter structures, while other types of scaffolding are used for higher structures.

What are the Safety Precautions when Using Single Scaffolding?

When using single scaffolding, it is crucial to address the following safety precautions:

  • Ensure that the scaffolding is set up correctly and is stable
  • Use strong and sturdy materials for the scaffolding
  • Cover any sharp edges or corners with blade guards
  • Use power tools with caution and ensure that they are attached to the scaffolding
  • Carry out regular maintenance checks to ensure that the scaffolding is in good condition

The Double Scaffolding: A Safer and Stronger Choice for Difficult Construction

Stone walls are difficult to work with because workers cannot drill into them. Double scaffolding is the perfect solution for this problem because it can be built away from the wall, providing a safe and stable platform for workers to carry out their work. The two sides of the scaffolding structure offer greater support and stability, making it safer for workers to work at higher levels.

How is Double Scaffolding Built?

The setup of double scaffolding involves the following steps:

  • The first row of standards is placed at a distance from the wall.
  • The ledgers are connected to the standards at the desired height.
  • The transoms are connected to the ledgers to create a second row of standards.
  • The putlogs are connected to the second row of standards and placed between the wall and the platform.
  • The platform is then attached to the putlogs, creating a safe and sturdy work area for workers.

What are the Technical Methods Followed in Double Scaffolding?

The technical methods followed in double scaffolding include:

  • Locking connections: The components of double scaffolding are locked together to provide greater stability and safety.
  • Horizontal linking: The horizontal pieces of double scaffolding are linked together to create a strong and stable platform.
  • Safety features: Double scaffolding includes safety features such as guardrails and toeboards to prevent falls and accidents.
  • Maintenance: Double scaffolding requires regular maintenance to ensure that it remains safe and strong.

What is the Price Range for Double Scaffolding?

The price of double scaffolding varies depending on the company and the type of scaffolding required. Experienced companies that produce high-quality scaffolding will generally charge a higher price than companies that offer lower-quality scaffolding. The price of double scaffolding also depends on the additional features and special requirements of the project.

What are the Names of Some Popular Double Scaffolding Companies?

Some of the popular double scaffolding companies include:

  • Layher
  • Haki
  • Cuplock
  • Kwikstage
  • Ringlock

These companies are known for their excellent reputation in the construction industry and their ability to produce high-quality scaffolding that meets the unique needs of each project.

Cantilever Scaffolding: A Great Type of Scaffolding for Specific Building Needs

When it comes to cantilever scaffolding, safety and design are of utmost importance. This type of scaffolding inherently carries additional risks due to its extended design and the fact that it is located outside of the main structure. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that companies pay close attention to the following:

  • The state-of-the-art production and manufacture of cantilever scaffolding.
  • The use of high-quality materials to protect against damage and ensure the safety of workers.
  • The importance of following standard safety procedures and guidelines when using cantilever scaffolding.
  • The need for additional user training and education on the safe use of cantilever scaffolding.

Buying and Using Cantilever Scaffolding

If you are considering using cantilever scaffolding for your building project, it is important to consider the following:

  • The specific needs of your building project and whether cantilever scaffolding is the best option for you.
  • The availability of cantilever scaffolding in your town or city and whether it is commonly used in your country.
  • The importance of buying cantilever scaffolding from reputable companies that specialize in its production and manufacture.
  • The need for professional installation and use of cantilever scaffolding to ensure the safety of workers and prevent unwanted damage to the building.

Steel Scaffolding: A Sturdy and Safe Structure for Construction

There are several reasons why steel scaffolding is considered a good alternative for construction:

  • Greater strength and durability
  • Higher fire resistance
  • Easy to construct and dismantle
  • Provides more safety for workers
  • Can be used for a number of specific uses in construction
  • Can be used to cover a large area
  • Can be used to create a level setting for performing construction work

Maintenance and Inspection

To ensure the safety of workers, steel scaffolding requires regular maintenance and inspection. This includes:

  • Inspecting the structure before each use
  • Checking for any damage or wear and tear
  • Addressing any issues that may cause the structure to become unstable
  • Performing regular maintenance to keep the structure in good condition

Additional Benefits of Steel Scaffolding

In addition to its strength and durability, steel scaffolding offers a number of additional benefits, including:

  • The ability to support a significant amount of weight
  • The ability to be used in different types of construction settings
  • The ability to be used in different stages of construction, from the foundation to the finishing touches
  • The ability to be used in different types of buildings, from stone structures to modern art designs
  • The ability to be used in different time periods, as steel scaffolding has been found in ancient Chinese construction dating back thousands of years.

Specialty Scaffolding: Beyond the Basics

Specialty scaffolding is built to meet specific needs and requirements of certain construction work. Some of the special features of specialty scaffolding include:

  • Vertical and horizontal connections: Specialty scaffolding is often equipped with additional connections to ensure a balanced structure.
  • Tapered sections: Some specialty scaffolding includes tapered sections to allow for easy placement in tight areas.
  • Longer length: Specialty scaffolding is often built longer than standard scaffolding to accommodate the specific needs of the construction work.

Despite the additional features and materials used in specialty scaffolding, safety is still of utmost importance. Companies must ensure that their specialty scaffolding is equipped with the necessary safety features and that users are properly trained to use it.


So, that’s how you can safely use scaffolding for your next construction project. It’s important to remember to use the right materials for the job and to follow the safety guidelines.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.