For construction managers, workers or just people renovating their homes or businesses, there are times when you’ll need to work at heights and scaffolds are the best way of doing it safely. Unlike using a ladder, scaffolds provide a secure and railed temporary platform that can be modified for different heights.
The temporary platform is built from a framework that is secured against external or interior walls that allows workers to easily reach high places and keep necessary tools and materials close at hand. The convenience of working safely at heights with room to store equipment and rest tools is why scaffolds are so essential at so many job sites.
Studying the history of construction techniques, you will see that scaffolds have been constructed from all kinds of materials including wood, bamboo, steel and even some synthetic materials. The larger the framework is and the more people it supports the stronger its make needs to be.
On modern construction and renovation jobs, scaffolds are either made of steel or aluminium and there is debate about which is better. Providers of aluminium scaffolds strongly advocate its superiority over steel alternatives.
Let’s compare steel and aluminium frameworks to see which is better.
Steel frameworks are comprised of gantry, steel tubular, socket steel, cup-lock steel and many other variations. Depending on the specific materials that are being used at the purpose of the job, steel frameworks can be constructed as follows:
- Single specification pipe framework that used pipes with matching specifications like a fastener steel tubular framework.
- The framework is formed through combinations of different specifications of pipes that normally includes two or more different styles
- The steel framework is tube-based and supported through different steel parts, being combined
Aluminium scaffolds are regarded as having a great range of advantages when compared to other materials used to construct these frameworks. The primary advantages come from the portability and convenience of using aluminium systems.
Aluminium frameworks, when compared with steel ones, are far less likely to develop cracks and will offer excellent support and durability. Although not as dense as steel, aluminium is far more durable over long periods of use.
The parts that make up aluminium frameworks use a special alloy that’s 75% less heavy than traditional steel frameworks. Aluminium components such as connection supports and loadbearing parts use external pressure and distribute the weight more evenly than with steel.
Aluminium frameworks are also considered simple and quick to install, most likely because of the lighter materials. This fact also makes them more portable as the framework can be erected and taken down again much quicker than with steel.
Aluminium vs steel scaffolds: the verdict
The overall improvement in efficiency and durability seen with aluminium frameworks is simply superior to steel in all functional areas. While they both can do the job they need to when properly installed, the aluminium system is simply faster to install and far more versatile as the job progresses.
In the construction industry, you may have heard the expression; time is money. Any kind of equipment change that means faster work, while not compromising on safety is a winner on most jobsites.
This is why there are more and more providers of aluminium scaffolds because they know that the industry is moving in this direction. Soon, the only people using steel frameworks will be those who already own them and can’t or don’t want to upgrade to the superior system.
When choosing to outright buy or hire scaffolds it’s clearly better to go with aluminium over steel for the obvious and extensive benefits this material has.