Many construction projects involve concrete shuttering and formwork to hold wet concrete in place while it sets and hardens. While formwork and shuttering can be used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the terms that are important to the overall process of concrete forms. Formwork and shuttering are similar because they are both used in construction to create a mold or temporary structure for holding wet concrete in place for the setting and hardening processes. However, there are key differences in the terms that can help inform your next project.
What is Concrete Shuttering vs. Formwork? Is There a Difference?
Concrete shuttering is a term used to specifically refer to the mold or casing that contains the wet concrete. Formwork refers to the overall system that holds the wet concrete in place, including the mold or casing, along with the supporting structure, such as frames and beams. Concrete formwork can be made up of a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and plastic, and may be reusable or disposable, depending on the project demands and constraints. The formwork for concrete is designed and constructed to the specific shape and dimensions for the final concrete structure. Concrete formwork is typically built on-site and used to create the desired shape and finish for the concrete. Concrete projects may include walls, columns, beams, floors, and foundations. Concrete formwork is a temporary structure that is removed once the concrete has hardened and cured.
Concrete shuttering is also made of wood, metal, or plastic and helps to shape and hold the concrete in place. The concrete shuttering is often referred to as a mold or casing, both of which are interchangeable terms for what holds the wet concrete in place. Concrete shuttering helps the concrete maintain its shape during the hardening and curing process. Formwork helps hold the shuttering in place with a supporting frame or structure. Both concrete formwork and shuttering are essential for maintaining the correct shape and dimensions of the structure during the concrete curing process. Thus, the formwork is the overall system holding wet concrete in place, while shuttering refers to the specific mold containing the wet concrete.
Materials Used in Concrete Formwork and Shuttering
Several materials can be used in concrete formwork and shuttering depending on the demands and specifications of the construction project. The size and shape of the structure, the supporting load, the budget, and other specific requirements can impact the choice of materials. Here are some important factors to consider when selecting materials for concrete formwork and shuttering:
Concrete formwork that is lightweight makes it easier to handle and maneuver on the job site. This can help reduce labor and equipment costs for the construction project. Lightweight formwork is also less likely to cause damage to the underlying structure and is typically more energy-efficient to produce and transport.
Concrete formwork that is easily accessible is also important because it allows workers to place and remove the formwork and shuttering as needed during the concrete pouring and curing process quickly and safely. Easily accessible formwork can also make it easier to make adjustments or repairs as needed and help ensure quality and accuracy for the finished product.
Reusable concrete formwork and shuttering can significantly reduce the cost of a construction project. Reusable forms can be used multiple times, which eliminates the need for new forms for each concrete pour. Reusable concrete forms also help reduce waste and make the construction project more environmentally friendly.
Plain & Smooth
Plain and smooth concrete formwork helps ensure the quality and accuracy of the finished concrete structure. Concrete formwork that is plain and smooth creates a more consistent and uniform surface for the concrete to be poured and cured against. This can help reduce the risk of defects or unevenness in the finished product.
Concrete formwork that is weather resistant can help protect the forms from the elements during the pouring and curing process. Exposure to moisture, sun, and wind can cause damage to concrete forms. When exposed to various weather elements, this can lead to leaks and defects in the finished structure. Weather resistance can also help extend the life of the forms by protecting them from wear and tear in the elements.
Pros & Cons of the Different Types of Formwork (Shuttering)
Formwork and shuttering are both essential components of the concrete pouring and curing process in the construction process. Here are examples of various pros and cons for different types of formwork and shuttering.
Timber formwork and shuttering is a traditional and common material that offers relatively low costs compared to other types. Timber formwork is easy to work with and can be easily cut and shaped to the desired dimensions. However, timber formwork can absorb moisture, which results in swelling and warming over time.
Plywood formwork and shuttering is a sheet material made from thin layers of wood. Plywood is strong, durable, and easy to work with, which makes it a common option for formwork panels. However, plywood can also absorb moisture, swell, and warp over time.
Metallic formwork and shuttering, like aluminum or steel, are durable and easy to handle. They can also be used multiple times and manage heavy loads like with multi-story buildings. However, metal formwork can be difficult to cut and shape and have higher associated costs.
Plastic formwork and shuttering are typically made of PVC or ABS, and they are lightweight, easy to handle, and reusable. Plastic is resistant to moisture, rot, and chemicals, though it can be more expensive than wood and may not be as durable as metal.
Fabric formwork and shuttering, also known as fiber-reinforced polymer, is fiber-enforced plastic that is lightweight and reusable. This type of formwork and shuttering is typically corrosion-resistant and can withstand higher temperatures.
Which Type of Forming/Shuttering Should You Choose
In general, it is best to consult with the experts when determining the best type of formwork for a specific project. Our team at Forming America offers products and services in a variety of materials that are designed to withstand various construction demands.
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