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What Are The Terms Used In Scaffolding?

When researching what scaffolding to use for your project, many people struggle with the vast array of terminology that gets used in the industry. Whether these terms are used to describe the scaffolding types and systems that are used or the individual parts of the scaffolding, this can cause frustration for many. In this handy guide, we’ll break down the main terminology, what it means, and what each of them are used for.

So what are the terms used in scaffolding? The terms that are used in scaffolding include types of scaffolding such as supported or suspended scaffolds, scaffold systems such as scaffold towers and mobile access platforms, and individual parts such as putlogs, ledgers, and toe boards.

Read on to learn more terminology that’s used to describe scaffolding and what it means, including scaffold types, scaffolding systems, and individual parts.

What Are The Types Of Scaffolding Called?

There’s a wide range of terminology used in scaffolding which can seem confusing to new professionals and clients alike. Many of these terms relate to different types of scaffolding and the systems used within them. We created this quick guide to help you understand what each of these terms mean..

While all scaffolding serves the same purpose, different types of scaffold are required for different applications. To make these easier to understand, they are broken down into two basic categories.

Supported Scaffolding

Supported scaffolds consist of one or more platforms that are supported by strong, load-bearing pieces, such as legs, frames, poles, and outriggers. This usually involves a series of metal tubes that are held together by couplers that form joints. Usually made of metal, they are the most common type of scaffolding because of their versatility and ability to hold heavy loads. 

The level of durability that supported scaffolds provide allows for several platforms stacked on top of each other to reach high places, such as working on the exterior of a multi-story house. Because it can be created in so many different shapes and configurations, it enables workers much more freedom of movement than suspended scaffolding or scissor lifts.

Suspended Scaffolding

Suspended scaffolds are working platforms that are suspended from an overhead structure by cables, ropes, and other non-static means. These suspended platforms are lightweight, easy to assemble, require fewer parts, and allow for more efficient workflows when working at great heights – such as the side of a tall building. These can either be powered for vertical mobility on a building or static.

For lightweight work, suspended platforms can be a cost-effective solution to speed up the process, however they lack the ability to transport heavy loads and are normally used for tasks such as window cleaning and painting on high-rise buildings.

What Are Scaffolding Systems?

Each category of scaffolding can employ a variety of  systems to reach the goal, depending on what’s required. These systems have been created over many years of progress throughout the industry, and serve to aid construction projects in different ways. We’ve broken down what the main scaffolding system terminology means:

  • Independent Scaffolding: This includes a double row of standards where each row is parallel to the building. The inner row should be as close to the building as practically possible.
  • Scaffold Tower: A scaffold tower (or tower scaffold) is an independent structure consisting of a single bay that is vertically built. This can include mobile or static towers, and can be accessed by ladders or stairs.
  • Mobile Access Platforms: Also known as MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms), these include cherry pickers and other powered boom arms that reach up to 27m high.
  • Mobile Platforms: These are independent, free-standing towers that are mounted on castor wheels to allow easy relocation. 
  • Birdcage Scaffolding: An independent scaffold that consists of more than two rows of standards in both directions.
  • Modular Scaffolding: A prefabricated scaffold that is assembled to the manufacturers specifications on site.
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolding: These are scaffolds that are built from scratch using tubing that is connected by coupling devices. See our traditional service page to read about our tube and coupler options.

What Are the Parts of a Scaffold Called?

Another confusing aspect of scaffolding terminology is the number of parts that you need to remember. Knowing what each of these mean is essential to understanding scaffolding, so we’ve put together this handy list of scaffolding parts: To learn more, read our full guide on scaffolding components.

  • Decking: The horizontal platforms that workers will walk across and stand on while working.
  • Scaffold Boards: The individual boards that make up the decking. Read our in depth guide on scaffold boards here.
  • Guardrails: Rails that run along at a mid-height, they are a requirement on scaffolds of over 2m when there’s a fall risk. Learn more about UK scaffolding regulations in our rules and regulations guide.
  • Standards: Pipes that act as the legs of the structure and run vertically to support the scaffold from ground level.
  • Bays: The space in the middle of four adjacent standards.
  • Ledgers: Horizontal tubes along the length of the scaffold that connect between standards.
  • Putlogs: Also known as a bricklayer’s scaffold, it involves using the wall of a structure/building as the support for the working platform instead of a second row of standards and ledgers.
  • Longitudinal/Facade Bracing: A tube that is fixed at 35 and 55 degrees that helps to prevent the scaffolding from swaying.
  • Toe Boards: Boards that run along the edges of the decking to prevent equipment and materials from falling off the scaffold.
  • Ties: These attach the scaffold to the structure/building and provide greater stability to stop inward/outward movement.

Expert Scaffolding Advice From Hi-Point Scaffolding

At Hi-Point, we’re a family run business that specialises in providing access solutions and scaffolding to construction projects of all sizes. If you’re planning for an interior project, check out our inside scaffolding or mobile scaffolding pages. Or, if you need a sturdier scaffold for your exterior project, try our traditional steel scaffolding or lightweight aluminium scaffolding pages.

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