A Comparison of Residential and Commercial Formwork in Construction

A Comparison of Residential and Commercial Formwork in Construction

The role of formwork in construction is to serve as a temporary mould to shape concrete. However, its use in commercial and domestic projects differs significantly. Formwork has been used since Roman times. Structures like the Pont du Gard in France and the Library of Celsus in Turkey are proof of its efficiency. 

The following paragraphs explain the differences in the use of formwork in residential and commercial construction and the unique challenges and solutions of each.

The Challenges of Residential Construction

Although residential projects are typically smaller and less complex than commercial ones, they still present challenges, such as:

  • Cost Constraints: Budgets for small projects are usually tight, calling for cost-effective formwork solutions that won’t compromise quality or safety.
  • Customisation: Curved walls, intricate cornices, and other complex design elements are frequent features of residential buildings, creating a need for equally complex formwork in construction projects.

The Solutions: Formwork has evolved since Roman builders used fabric and reeds. Residential builders now have the following options to overcome their routine challenges:

  • Modular Formwork: The availability of modular formwork that can be easily assembled into multiple shapes has dramatically reduced operating costs for the small builder by increasing speed and efficiency.
  • Prefabricated Panels: Circular and rectangular shuttering composed of prefabricated bespoke panels are ideal for the ornate columns often required in residential buildings.

The Challenges of Commercial Construction

The markedly larger dimensions of commercial buildings pose the following challenges when using formwork in construction projects:

  • Scale and Load: Structures like office blocks and shopping malls must support much higher loads than the average home. Consequently, all formwork must be sufficiently robust to cope with the added pressure without compromising structural integrity.
  • Speed and Efficiency: Time is frequently a crucial factor for companies engaged in commercial construction. They often face stiff financial penalties for failing to meet agreed milestones and completion dates, so their formwork must enable rapid construction.
  • Height and Complexity: Commercial buildings frequently combine complex designs with high-rise architecture. Hence, the formwork used must cater to these requirements safely and efficiently.

The Solutions: The designers and manufacturers of modern formwork have developed the following options to circumvent the above challenges:

  • Advanced Systems: New developments in the industry include tunnel, jump, and climbing formwork to handle high-rise commercial construction projects safely and efficiently and help companies avoid costly delays.
  • Automation: Automated and self-climbing formwork cuts labour costs and significantly reduces construction times.

Sourcing Quality Formwork

If you use formwork in construction, you need quality, safety, efficiency, and versatility. These are the hallmarks of all steel scaffolding and shuttering products at Disc-O-Scaff. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.

Recommended Strategies For Maintaining Steel Formwork

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.

How Column Formwork Revolutionised the Use of Concrete in Construction

Concrete appeared in 6500 BC when Jordanians and Syrians used it to lay floors. Later, the Romans’ use of column formwork transformed construction forever. For almost seven millennia, due to its semi-liquid nature when first mixed, the use of this aerated mixture of cement, water, sand, and gravel was limited to two dimensions.

The iconic building material only began to reveal its full potential when Roman ingenuity led to the use of simple moulds made from materials like reed and fibre to secure the uncured mix in place until set. Gradually, Rome evolved from a brick-and-mortar city to a concrete metropolis. The fact that much of the Pantheon and Colosseum remains standing today is ample proof of the value of even this primitive formwork. Surprisingly, it was only after the fall of the Roman Empire that timber was first used for this purpose.

Column Formwork in Modern Construction

Columns and pillars are frequent features of modern construction products, like bridges, tunnels, motorway overpasses, and multi-storey car parks. These vertical elements must support and transmit the compressive and bending forces from the infrastructure above to the foundations below, so their integrity is crucial. Longitudinal steel bars and brackets within these structures help resist flexion and prevent buckling, while the external column formwork determines the desired shape.

Smaller builders still use timber and plywood formwork, but although it’s cheap and versatile, it absorbs water and may tend to shrink or deform, limiting its useful lifespan. However, the introduction of steel in the early 1900s provided builders with an option that was strong, easy to use, and which, with only minimal care, could be reused repeatedly.

Despite the introduction of aluminium formwork in the 1960s and the arrival of plastic versions in the early 2000s, steel has remained the option of choice for most large construction companies. While aluminium is lighter and cheaper, steel is stronger and more durable.

Column Formwork from Disc-o-Scaff

All formwork manufactured by us at Disc-o-Scaff is engineered to the highest standards using only SABS-approved materials. You may find a cheaper product but not a better one, which might explain why our products have become the preferred choice of so many leading South African construction and scaffolding companies.

We offer two high-quality column formwork products:

  • Circular Column Box: These can be supplied in various sizes to create circular columns.
  • Economy Panel Column Box: For creating square or rectangular columns of various sizes with just four components.

If you want quality and value for money, phone us, email us, or complete our online contact form to learn more about world-class formwork and scaffolding from us at Disc-o-Scaff.

Trust the Leading Reliable Formwork Suppliers, Disc-O-Scaff

Selecting formwork suppliers requires a comprehensive understanding of the available market offerings and potential solutions. Technical requirements of the construction site should guide your selection process, with evaluations based on the most suitable and economical solution proposed by the supplying company. Additional crucial considerations include the supplier’s strong engineering background, established company structure, and consistent material availability.

Formwork Suppliers for Modern Construction

The superior advantages of modular shuttering necessitate partnering with formwork suppliers committed to exceeding expectations. At Disc-O-Scaff, we distinguish ourselves from other companies by manufacturing all formwork solutions in-house. This vertical integration affords us exceptional flexibility, enabling us to provide customised structural elements tailored precisely to your project’s requirements. We further guarantee that every component is meticulously manufactured using SABS-approved materials and subject to rigorous control measures.

Our continued commitment to staying at the forefront of the formwork industry grants you access to the latest engineering innovations, ensuring complete peace of mind. By aligning your shuttering requirements with Disc-O-Scaff, you can be confident that you have chosen a manufacturer and supplier that consistently evolves alongside modern construction trends.

Technical Aspects of Formwork Construction

The lifecycle of formwork encompasses the entire process, from the initial project conception to pre-planning and its ultimate execution. This critical cycle plays a vital role in ensuring efficiency, cost reduction, and environmental impact minimisation within the construction industry. Leveraging our position as leading formwork suppliers with extensive in-house capabilities, we at Disc-O-Scaff would like to expand on the impact our unique modular shuttering systems offer construction.

  1. Customised Formwork
    Traditionally, formwork suppliers face significant challenges in adapting shuttering designs to meet project-specific technical specifications, while also maximising efficiency and reusability. Our formwork solutions, however, overcome this hurdle through our inherent flexibility. This adaptability allows for a greater degree of customisation to suit the complexities of each project.
  2. Meeting Timelines
    The timely and secure arrival of formwork materials in optimal condition is a critical facet of the construction process. While logistics can often pose a challenge for formwork contractors, we at Disc-O-Scaff, your trusted formwork suppliers, stand apart by guaranteeing both the completion and availability of shuttering according to your project’s specific timelines.
  3. Strict Quality Control
    In formwork manufacturing, adherence to strict quality standards is paramount. This ensures that shuttering for structural elements invariably aligns with customer specifications. At Disc-O-Scaff, each formwork component is thoroughly examined before leaving our premises. Our inspection process ensures that every element meets the requisite quality standards for safe and efficient on-site assembly and dismantling.

Partner with the Best in the Industry

Ideally situated in Elandsfontein, we have supplied superior-quality customised formwork and scaffolding to major construction companies in southern Africa for over 10 years. Whether your project requires column formwork, beam shuttering, or slab formwork, contact us and we will assist you with formwork that can be engineered and manufactured to your project specifications.

The Use of Steel Formwork Offers a Number of Benefits over Other Types of Formwork

Using moulds to create the desired shape of a structure is a concept that dates back to ancient Rome. With the growing demand for better and more modern infrastructure, where once reeds and fibre were used, steel formwork has taken its place, allowing construction companies to build at a much faster pace. At Disc-O-Scaff, we manufacture several types of formwork panels made from durable steel, assisting in making architectural plans a reality.   

Steel Formwork for Construction Projects

Understanding the different types of shuttering available helps you gain a better perspective on why many construction companies opt for steel formwork from us at Disc-O-Scaff.

  1. Timber
    After the fall of ancient Rome, timber became the preferred choice of formwork. Timber is still the most commonly used formwork; however, if it is not well-seasoned or free from loose knots, it can affect the surface of the exposed concrete work. Always make sure that the wood is lightweight and easily workable without splitting.
  1. Plywood
    Made from layers of resin-bonded plywood sheets, this type of shuttering is often combined with timber formwork for panels of a required size. The cost of plywood compares favourably with timber formwork and is simplistic to assemble and remove.   
  1. Plastic
    Plastic formwork has the advantage of being lightweight and flexible, allowing for the construction of complex shapes and unique features. Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t have a high load-carrying capacity, is quite costly, and is prone to heat damage.   
  1. Steel Formwork
    Between the 1910s and 1950s, steel formwork became the shuttering of choice amongst construction crews. Wider-scale projects were done at a much faster pace by using this formwork over other types. The strength, durability, and longevity that steel presents make it possible for formwork to be designed according to the structural element being built and for it to be used multiple times without compromising the framework of the steel formwork.

Unlike other types of formwork where the quality of the exposed concrete might not be up to par, the modular design of steel formwork is excellent and the surfaces don’t need further treatment. During the setting process, steel does not shrink or warp and, once cured, can be easily and safely removed.

Importance of Using the Right Type of Formwork

Even though steel formwork is more expensive than plywood or timber, it has the distinct advantage of having a longer lifespan and being able to handle heavy load-carrying capacities. As steel is rigid enough to hold its shape, using this type of formwork in construction ensures that various sections can be removed without damaging the concrete. Circular, curved, or rectangular steel formwork is a formidable component of the construction industry.

For over 10 years, we at Disc-O-Scaff have manufactured and supplied superior-quality formwork and scaffolding solutions to major construction companies in South Africa. Contact us for more guidance on which steel formwork components will offer the best results for your specific project.

Basic Working Principles of Formwork in Construction

With concrete being the main choice of building material, formwork has introduced complex geometric designs and formidable-sized construction in urban development. This symbiotic relationship has proven that the architectural landscape can be built structurally sound, sustainably, cost-effectively, and at a faster pace.

As the leading formwork manufacturer, we at Disc-O-Scaff would like to emphasise the importance of quality formwork and the possible failures that could occur if incorrect shuttering is selected to build structural elements, such as beam and column formwork.

Factors that Can Affect the Quality of a Surface Finish, Especially in Formwork Applications

The method of using and handling formwork significantly impacts the finish of concrete. Obvious surface blemishes, such as poor form joints, offsets, and the use of inadequate facing materials, occur when the formwork material selection is unsuitable for the construction of the structural element. Achieving a high-quality concrete finish depends heavily on factors such as the concrete mixture, concreting temperature and practices, as well as careful formwork considerations before and during construction.   

Freshly poured concrete exerts lateral pressure affecting the height of the concrete formwork. The pressure of the formwork increases as the height of the fresh concrete increases and only ceases when further force from above is no longer transmitted. Should the incorrect formwork have been selected, this continuous rising pressure could result in sections of the formwork bulging or deflecting.

Causes of Concrete Formwork Failure

Several factors can contribute to the failure of formwork during and after construction, which need to be highlighted to ensure that these indispensable building structures remain structurally safe supports.  

  • Lack of Inspection

Often, failures occur due to inspection by unqualified or inexperienced inspectors. A competent person or engineer should always be on-site to inspect and certify that completed formwork meets design specifications and that it is structurally sound before it is loaded.

  • Improper Connections and Defective Components

As much as formwork can fail due to design flaws that do not take lateral forces and stability into account, a lack of maintenance will also lead to failure. Shuttering is used multiple times, and often, corrosion sets in and damages occur which, during assembly, are not always considered. If components are insufficiently connected with the proper wedge and clip assemblies, it can lead to progressive collapses and compromise the integrity of the formwork.     

  • Premature Removal of Components

Tight scheduling and budget constraints may lead to the premature removal of the shuttering. Formwork must only be removed once the concrete has adequately cured.

To safeguard against formwork failure, we at Disc-O-Scaff would advise that the correct procedures are followed during the assembly when the concrete is being poured, and once the concrete has cured, the formwork has been deemed safe to remove.

Armed with this knowledge and trusting your formwork solutions with the experts in the industry, we at Disc-O-Scaff will ensure that your choice of circular, economy panel, and column shuttering will provide ample structural support. Contact us for superior-quality steel scaffolding and formwork solutions.