Barton International

Choosing the Right Type of Formwork for High Rise Buildings


Formwork is critical to high rising building construction. Discover which type of formwork and materials you should be choosing for your project.

In 2018, the formwork market was worth $5.32 billion, with that figure set to grow to $6.37 billion by 2027. Formwork is commonplace across concrete construction and consists of many variations depending on the type of structure.

Experienced workmanship and inspection are required to ensure the stability of the structure meet the safety standards. Read on to discover the various styles, materials and purposes formwork is used for to ensure you pick the right one for your project. 

Forging is an ancient skill and has been performed by smiths for thousands of years. Traditional forged parts began with tools, weapons, and jewellery. However, things have changed in recent years. Forging has since evolved to manufacturing. During the industrial revolution, it began revolving around large machinery and mechanisms for production.

Metal forging remains a major worldwide industry. Its necessity will always be in demand, while components of metal manufacturing require the highest strength. But the question is, which type of forging does your business require?

Formwork is critical to high rising building construction. Discover which type of formwork and materials you should be choosing for your project.

What Is Formwork?

Formwork is a type of mould used to assemble structures by pouring in concrete or other materials before letting them set. The formwork can be either temporary or permanent. Some materials also enable the formwork to be reusable.

Concrete remains the most common material used in formwork due to its durable, safe, cheap, and sustainable qualities. Formwork is an essential feature of concrete construction and consists of many variations, such as:

  • Traditional timber formwork
  • Engineered formwork system
  • Permanent insulated formwork
  • Reusable plastic formwork
  • Stay-in-place formwork
  • Flexible formwork

The reason there are so many types of formwork systems is down to the fact that various concrete structures all require different purposes. The most popular type of formwork used in concrete construction is known as shuttering.

Shuttering is typically constructed on-site using a special grade of water-resistant plywood. It’s easy to produce but can be time-consuming when building larger structures. Shuttering presents an alternative to reusable formwork materials, such as plastic or steel.

The type of concrete and temperature of pour are significant factors to consider when working with formwork. The sides of the formwork must withstand the hydrostatic pressure before the base resists the dead load of the wet concrete.

When the concrete sets enough to be sufficiently self-supporting, the formwork can be removed, and depending on if it is a reusable material, can be applied again. It’s important that when removing the formwork, you don’t damage the concrete. All formwork types should meet certain standards, including:

  • Withstanding dead and live loads
  • Retaining its shape under pressure
  • All joints preventing any leaks
  • The ability to be removed without damaging the concrete and setting accurately
  • Being as lightweight as possible

Before selecting your type of formwork, you must choose the correct type of concrete and pour it into the specific mould within the right conditions to achieve the ideal result for your structure.

Different Types of Formwork in Construction to Consider

Various formwork systems have continued to develop since the 1990s, with continuous innovation propelling the construction industry to great levels of efficiency. Each type of formwork system meets the specific needs of the project. The main types of formwork used in construction include:

  • System column formwork
  • Horizontal panel
  • Slipform
  • Jumpform
  • Vertical panel systems
  • Permanent formwork

Due to speed and efficiency being integral in the construction industry, modern systems of formwork are designed to remain accurate and reduce waste while meeting health and safety standards.

What are the Different Types of Formwork Materials Available?

Steel Formwork

Steel formwork is arguably the best type of formwork because the steel is strong and doesn’t bend or warp under the pressure of the concrete.

Steel formwork comes in the form of steel plates, which can also be used to stack when trying to make large structures. Steel formwork can utilise various fabrication techniques, such as metal stamping, bending, extrusion and welding.

The main benefits of steel formwork include:

  • Long-term durability for concrete construction
  • Steel has superior durability to withstand heavy loads
  • Extremely versatile
  • Clean finish

Steel formwork can be applied to both temporary and permanent moulds and is reusable. The downside to steel formwork is that it’s expensive and heavy. However, its reusable qualities and long-term durability make it much more cost-effective in the long run.

Aluminium Formwork

Like steel, aluminium formwork can be used on permanent and temporary moulds and is ideal for larger construction projects and high rise buildings. The main difference between the two being aluminium is more lightweight and cheaper, while steel is stronger and more durable.

The key benefits to aluminium include:

  • Lightweight and long-term durable solution
  • Versatile and durable
  • Ideal for large scale projects
  • Non-porous or absorbent

Aluminium formwork remains lightweight and cost-effective, allowing for multiple construction optimal productivity. Other materials used for formwork include:

Each material has its benefits, but they all suit smaller-scale concrete construction projects compared to steel and aluminium.

Metal formwork is largely used within the civil engineering and public utilities market. BC Barton International source custom medium to high volume steel plates, bars and couples known as falsework.

How Much Does Formwork Cost?

Like all construction projects, the cost of the formwork will depend on the complexity and scale of the job. Formwork required for horizontal surfaces is cheap in comparison to formwork required for stairs, columns, and walls.

As we know, time is of the essence in the construction industry. On average, steel formwork costs 17% higher than timber but produces fasters and better-quality results.

Precise specifications, along with labour, materials, and supplies, dictate the overall cost for a formwork project. Steel and aluminium are more expensive than plastic or plywood but are much better options for larger-scale projects due to their durability, scale, and ability to stack.

Getting the Right Type and Material of Formwork for High Rise Buildings

As we’ve gathered, the right material for high rise buildings is either steel or aluminium. Both are strong, durable and can be stacked easily.

If you’re interested in steel or aluminium formwork, get in touch with Barton International. Since 1898, our British-owned business continues to deliver reliable, quality-assured, and cost-effective metal formwork solutions to satisfy large scale projects, such as high-rise buildings. Contact us today.

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