Recommended Strategies For Maintaining Steel Formwork

Steel formwork for moulding concrete structures has revolutionised construction, but proper maintenance is essential to ensure its performance and longevity. Also known as shuttering, the concept of using various materials to maintain the shape of freshly poured concrete until it hardens can be attributed to the builders of Ancient Rome, who used short-lived, disposable materials like reeds and fibre.

Optimising the Lifespan of Steel Formwork

Today, steel shuttering offers a more long-term solution if suitably cared for. Adopting the following strategies will optimise its lifespan and ensure its performance:

  • Regular Cleaning: A wire brush or high-pressure water jet should be used to remove concrete residue and rust immediately after each use to avoid a build-up of debris that could cause corrosion.
  • Inspection: Metal formwork should be inspected before and after use for signs of wear and tear, like cracks and buckling, and any damaged components should be repaired or replaced. 
  • Anti-Corrosion Measures: Repeated exposure to moisture and chemicals can cause steel to corrode. Applying a protective coating like an epoxy paint or galvanisation will prevent rust formation and extend its lifespan.
  • Proper Storage: Even when not in use, steel shuttering can deteriorate. It should be stored on a raised platform to prevent contact with the ground, where it could absorb water, and covered with a tarpaulin to protect it from the weather.
  • Lubrication: Regular oiling is essential to ensure that the moving parts of steel formwork, like hinges and connectors, continue to move freely. In addition, the regular use of a suitable lubricant will help to reduce the frictional force that can lead to short-term wear and tear.
  • Using a Release Agent: Concrete can sometimes stick to the surface of formwork, resulting in surface damage when removed. Applying a release agent like castor oil or petroleum jelly thinned with kerosene will prevent this. Commercial products are also available for this purpose.
  • Scheduled Maintenance: It will help to establish a routine maintenance schedule to ensure all the above measures are carried out systematically. Keeping a detailed written record of all maintenance activities will help you monitor the condition of your steel formwork and schedule any necessary interventions.
  • Awareness Training: Maintaining steel shuttering should be a team effort, so all those who use it must be thoroughly trained in its care. Well-informed workers are more likely to observe the strategies that will ensure its longevity and efficiency.

Purchasing High-quality Steel Formwork

We at Disc-O-Scaff are a leading South African manufacturer and supplier of scaffolding and formwork. Our SABS-approved materials guarantee longevity and performance. We invite you to contact us for more information about these world-class products.