A Buying Guide for Scaffolding

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A Buying Guide for Scaffolding

Various scaffolding renditions have been around for centuries, and according to some historians, Egyptians used primitive versions of scaffolding to build the Great Pyramids. During the 20th century, manufacturers primarily constructed scaffolding with steel, although towards the later part of the century, hard anodised aluminium became the material of choice for its lightweight, yet durable, composition. While mostly used on large building construction projects, scaffolding has also become popular amongst homeowners for handling projects that require easy access to difficult-to-reach places.

Contractors and homeowners typically shop for scaffolding at large hardware and home improvement shops. The explosion of Internet commerce has created ways for scaffolding buyers and sellers to meet online. eBay, which is one of the most prominent ecommerce sites, provides several tools that enhance the scaffolding process. Before shopping for scaffolding, buyers should first garner a basic understanding of scaffolding, and then perform research that enlightens them on the types of scaffolding, the most important scaffolding components, and lastly, how to buy scaffolding.

Overview of Scaffolding

The purpose of scaffolding is to provide a temporary platform that reaches above arm's length during building construction, maintenance, and repairs. Typically constructed with timber, steel, or aluminium, scaffolding ranges across the spectrum in design complexity. The general rule is the more complex the job, the more intricate the scaffolding design. Thousands of Brits work on scaffolding platforms every day, including construction workers, painters, and building maintenance personnel. In addition, many homeowners utilise scaffolding to help them reach gutters and roofing tiles. Because of the dangerous nature of scaffolding work, manufacturers typically place safety at the forefront of design and production concerns.

Types of Scaffolding

Scaffolding manufacturing can be an elaborate process, depending on the purpose of the job, operation heights, and the type of work structure. Manufacturers build very sturdy scaffolding foundations, along with numerous ties and clips that stabilise the scaffolding and ensure the safety of both workers and pedestrians who may pass underneath. Construction workers have four primary options when it comes to scaffolding, and some construction companies use more than one type of scaffolding to meet the needs of specific jobs.

Birdcage

Birdcage scaffolds involve evenly spaced poles that are set in parallel lines to resemble a large birdcage. Manufacturers place thick wood planks over the line of poles, and the planks are secured by clamping a diagonal brace to provide lift and stability. Individual lift heights stack no higher than 1 m. Since Birdcage scaffolding is very susceptible to swaying in the wind, workers tie or brace the scaffolding to ensure stability.

Single Pole

Single pole scaffolding platforms sit on cross beams that are supported on the ends by ledges or holes in the side of a building. This type of scaffold is dependent on the type of structure for support. Therefore, single pole steel scaffolding is not recommended for jobs that include easy-to-remove or heavily altered external structures. The easy-to-raise and stable platform makes the single pole scaffold perfect for light duty work.

Suspended

Suspended scaffolding works on the principle of a balanced platform that rises and falls depending on where the workers must perform their jobs. Window washers working on tall skyscrapers utilise this type of scaffolding, which is suspended from an overhanging part of the building. The platforms are secured by heavy suspension ropes, pulley, and myriad heavy weights. Workers attach pieces for connecting to easy-to-access sections of the building.

Cantilever

When workers cannot base scaffolding on the ground because of some obstruction, they turn to cantilever scaffolding to angle out from a structure, instead of the platform resting at the structure's side. While cantilever scaffolding has limited applications, it is convenient to erect and it can safely hold one average-sized worker and his or her supplies. This type of scaffolding usually positions near balconies or ledges for structure access.

Important Scaffolding Components

The current lightweight tube standard for constructing scaffolding has been around for six decades. Scaffolds that encompass a variety of sizes and heights do not require nuts or bolts that were previously used for assembly. However, scaffolding still contains dozens of components, of which three form the backbone of most scaffolding units. The following chart describes each of the three primary scaffolding components.

Scaffolding Component

Description

Tubes

Typically constructed with steel or aluminium

Aluminium's lower weight provides more flexibility

Comes in various lengths

Standard diameter of 43.8 mm

Boards

Act as platform for workers

Three thickness sizes: 38, 50, and 60 mm

Protected by metal plates called hoop irons

Timber scaffolds in the United Kingdom must comply with British Standard 2482

Sole boards underneath the scaffolding solidify platform

Couplers

Fittings that hold tubes together

Most commonly referred to as scaffold couplers

Three types: right angle, putlog, and swivel

Only right angle and swivel couplers fix a tube in a load-bearing connection

Other prominent scaffolding components include: ladders, ropes, anchor ties, reveal ties, gin wheels, sheeting, and base plates. Most of the prominent components play a role in the raising and lowering of the scaffolding platform. Manufacturers design every scaffolding component from metal that can be painted. Despite the metric measures provided above, many UK construction workers should find imperial measurements on most scaffolding components.

How to Buy Scaffolding

Scaffolding is not an everyday purchase, especially for homeowners who only need to use scaffolding for the occasional gutter cleaning or siding replacement project. Yet, both homeowners and construction workers follow the same basic steps during the scaffolding purchasing process.

Buying vs. Renting

The temptation for homeowners and some construction companies is to rent scaffolding to save money. While renting may save a few pounds, it may be more cost efficient to purchase scaffolding. Create a budget, and then shop for scaffolding that falls within the financial constraints. Contractors and homeowners who plan to use scaffolding more than a few times per year should consider buying scaffolding. Rental fees eventually cost more than purchasing scaffolding, and contractors pay a huge price for damaged or stolen scaffolding equipment.

Adhere to Government Standards

Become familiar with the international scaffolding standard, and then closely follow and UK standards that address scaffolding safety during the purchasing process. The United Kingdom has developed a reputation for applying one of the most stringent scaffolding standards in the world. Because of the country's diligence for protecting worker safety, scaffolding equipment purchased in the UK can cost more than similar equipment sold in other countries. While general scaffolding standards among countries may be similar, the vast difference lies in components such as couplers, boards, and tubes.

Which Type of Scaffolding to Choose

First, decide on one of the four primary types of scaffolding. Then, choose between folding or standard scaffolding. Folding scaffolding is easy to set up, but it makes it virtually impossible to work at tall heights. Standard scaffolding requires manual assembly, but it provides more stability than folding scaffolding. Some manufacturers construct scaffolding strictly for indoor work. Indoor scaffolding is less resistant to moisture damage, but it includes a set of wheels that enhances portability.

Research

Spend time researching the various manufacturers to get an idea of their scaffolding specialisations. Most manufacturers have created a niche within the scaffolding market to help contractors or homeowners handle specific jobs. Research should also include gathering information on the types of components sold by manufacturers. Any components utilised to maintain or upgrade scaffolding should come from the original manufacturer.

Where to Buy Scaffolding

A majority of contractors and homeowners shop for scaffolding in hardware and home improvement shops to inspect the equipment for rust and damaged components. Big box retailers are a great way to conduct scaffolding research, but contractors and homeowners can save money by shopping for scaffolding online. In fact, contractors and homeowners can find near mint condition scaffolding at discounted prices at one of the leading ecommerce sites, eBay.

How to Buy Scaffolding on eBay

Most scaffolding experts recommend that both contractors and homeowners inspect scaffolding in person before they reach a purchasing decision. However, eBay provides the same setting in a virtual environment. Each eBay seller has a product page that displays enlarged product photographs. You can analyse the photograph of a seller's scaffolding to discern if there are any imperfections. Sellers also list their accepted payment methods and delivery terms. To help you vet sellers, eBay compiles customer feedback that you can review on seller product pages.

While 100 per cent positive feedback may seem validation enough that you have chosen the right seller, what if that feedback mostly came from buyers who purchased clothing or sporting goods from the seller? You want to consider sellers who have received high praise for preferably selling scaffolding, or at the very least, construction equipment. Moreover, you should consider eBay's Top-Rated Sellers, the sellers who have earned reputations for selling high-quality and durable products. eBay places an electronic ribbon icon next to sellers who qualify for the top-rated seller designation. To find the right top-rated seller, use eBay's search engine to reduce the number of search results. The best way to refine your search is to search by material, such as aluminium or steel.

Conclusion

The architect dream of reaching for the sky has created a booming demand for scaffolding. Countries all over the world underwrite huge commercial construction projects that are predicated on breaking records for the most building stories. Scaffolding not only allows contractors access to build from the ground up, it also provides the best way to clean windows and maintain structural integrity on the 97th floor. For centuries, scaffolding was primarily considered a commercial investment. However, homeowners who want convenient access for siding installation and gutter cleaning have invested in residential versions of commercial scaffolding.

There are four major types of scaffolding, each with features that accommodate specific jobs. Moreover, contractors and homeowners must decide whether they want to buy folding or standard scaffolding, a decision premised on storage capability and ease of assembly. Contractors and homeowners should also become familiar with the myriad scaffolding components, especially tubes, boards, and couplers. The scaffolding buying process begins at the decision to buy instead of rent, and then research that includes learning UK scaffolding standards for finding the right type of scaffold for commercial or residential use. Once a decision is made, contractors and homeowners can find great scaffolding deals by shopping on eBay.

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