What are the Different Types of Scaffolding?

July 15, 2015


Scaffolds are temporary work platforms used in construction when work cannot be performed from the ground or from a finished floor. They are generally rated as light duty, medium duty, and heavy duty, depending on the worker and material load the particular type of scaffold can safely support for a given length of time.

  • Light duty scaffolds support a few employees and hand tools.
  • Medium duty scaffolds safely support workers, hand tools, and materials being installed.
  • Heavy duty scaffolds safely support workers, hand tools, and the sustained weight of stored materials.

Types of Scaffolding

Scaffold types include tube and coupler, pre-fab and H-frame modular systems, and wood or timber systems.

Scaffolding is generally categorized as self-supporting, suspension, elevated platform, or specialty.

Self-Supporting Scaffolds

Self-supporting scaffolds typically have worker platforms securely supported by frames or poles solidly placed on the ground. Self-supporting scaffolds include,

  • carpenter’s bracket scaffolds, which have a worker platform supported on a bracketed frame (with safety toeboards, midrails and guardrails) typically bolts to and hangs from the wall;
  • bricklayer's squares scaffolds, which are composed of framed squares that support a platform;
  • tube and coupler scaffolds, including wheel/caster-mounted mobile/portable scaffolds, are platforms supported by separate tubing and couplings that connect bearings, runners, and braces;
  • fabricated frame scaffolds, which are constructed from welded tubular welded frames and which support a platform on fabricated end frames, central posts, horizontal bearers and mid posts, and
  • mobile scaffolds, which may be mechanized or not, and which may be wheel-powered, on castors, or truck-mounted elevated / supported lifts.

Suspension Scaffolds

Suspension scaffolding is supported from overhead with ropes or pulleys, and include:

  • a single point (Boatswain’s Chairs) scaffolds, which have a platform suspended by one rope;
  • a double-point (swing stage) scaffolds, which are supported hangers suspended by two ropes;
  • float scaffolds, which are suspended, braced platforms that rest on parallel bearers, and
  • a catenary, which is a platform fastened to horizontal and parallel ropes secured to structural members.

Elevating Work Platforms

Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs) are battery/motor powered, and include:

  • mast climbing work platforms, which are platforms hoisted to raise workers and materials;
  • vehicle-mounted aerial (scissor) platforms, or
  • vehicle-mounted aerial platforms with telescoping and rotating booms.

Specialty Scaffolding

Specialty scaffolding is designed to support its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load. Types of specialty scaffolding include:

  • a roof bracket scaffold, which is a platform supported by triangular shaped supports;
  • a pump jack scaffold, which is a platform supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets;
  • a ladder jack scaffold, which is a platform supported by brackets attached to ladders;
  • trestle ladder scaffolds, which include outriggers for stability;
  • a window jack scaffold, which is a platform supported by a bracket, or jack, that projects through a window opening, and
  • carpenter form scaffolds, which are bracketed directly onto the building frame for support.

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