The Benefits of Prefabricated Concrete Shuttering

Also known as formwork, concrete shuttering is essential for moulding freshly poured concrete into the often complex shapes typical of modern construction. That said, the origins of formwork can be traced to when the Romans built the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Arch of Constantine. While they used fabric and fibres to form their moulds, other materials have since proved more effective. These include timber, plywood and, most recently, steel.

The owners of smaller building companies are often reluctant to meet the initial cost of modern prefabricated steel shuttering, preferring to make their own from timber or plywood. However, by doing so, they are forsaking a highly cost-effective, long-term solution for short-term savings. In the next section, we will compare the merits of this DIY solution with those inherent in modern prefabricated formwork:

Plywood vs Steel Concrete Shuttering

The primary function of formwork is to maintain the shape of freshly poured concrete structures while they harden, so how does a construction company decide which type is best? The following comparisons should help simplify the decision:

  • Time-Saving: Prefabricated shuttering is delivered ready for use, significantly reducing the time spent on measuring, cutting, assembling, and fitting plywood or timber formwork. In construction, time is money, so every hour saved is cash in the bank.
  • Precision and Quality: Commercially manufactured steel shuttering is produced in a controlled factory environment with stringent quality control to ensure precise measurements and high-quality finishes beyond the scope of the hand-crafted alternative.
  • Durability and Reusability: When maintained with care, the superior durability of prefabricated steel concrete shuttering should be good for a hundred uses or more without loss of integrity. By contrast, warping and swelling from contact with water degrades wooden formwork after a few uses, leading to higher material costs in the long term.
  • Labour Efficiency: Unlike the labour-intensive assembly and dismantling of wooden formwork and the associated cost, the ease with which one can manage these actions when employing steel shuttering eliminates the need for suitably skilled labourers, thus reducing costs.
  • Environmental Impact: Construction is one of the world’s least sustainable industries, and, in many countries, companies face heavy fines for non-compliance with green requirements. Because it is reusable, prefabricated steel concrete shuttering is considered a more sustainable option than wooden formwork.
  • Logistics and Storage: Due to its modular design and durability, steel formwork is easy to transport and store. By contrast, wooden shuttering requires more space and careful handling to prevent damage.

Concrete Shuttering in South Africa

We at Disc-O-Scaff are an acknowledged leader in the manufacture of steel scaffolding and formwork. We invite you to contact us for more details about our products, which are made exclusively with SABS-approved materials.