Because they don’t warp like conventional form wood material, steel and aluminum are common concrete forms for sale in the market. They both have their advantages and pitfalls. Steel is heavier to lift, but it’s stronger and more durable. Aluminum, on the other hand, is less expensive but not as a reliable.
So which is the better investment? Depending on your budget and use, the decision can be difficult. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of steel-ply and aluminum forms to help you decide which type may be a better choice for you.
Steel-ply systems are factory-built and highly reusable up to 3000 times if cared for properly. With easy setup, you won’t have to measure, saw, drill, or nail anything, saving you and your personnel time. Aluminum, on the other hand, requires tooling and is extremely abrasive. More specifically, the aluminum oxide coating that forms on the materials is sensitive.
Don’t waste precious time teaching crew members how to use steel-ply forms. They won’t need any additional training since the panels don’t have a top, bottom, left, or right, and can be used vertically or horizontally. Your staff can plug right in and quickly work up to their maximum efficiency.
Designing a job-built formwork can be tedious since it must be tailored to the specific pour for the job. On the contrary, a steel-ply forming system is highly customizable and can be adjusted to form virtually any dimensions. Aluminum forms require special processes to be welded, requiring more tools and time to get the job done. With factory-built steel-ply systems, the only tool your employees will need is a hammer to secure the connectors in place.
If changes are needed to an aluminum structure, no architectural changes can be implemented once they have been fabricated. Plus, due to its lesser ability to handle tension and compression, you need more aluminum to make up for its fragility.
Ensure Quality, Consistency, and Safety
Steel-ply systems are pre-engineered, so you can expect the basic components and methods of construction to be consistent. With this level of reliability, your staff’s labor habits are more predictable, and you can project a more stable timeline. The factory-built strength of these systems is manufactured for a safer job site. On the contrary, not only is aluminum weaker than steel, it’s also highly sought after by thieves. The resell value for aluminum scraps has exponentially increased in recent years. By keeping aluminum on your job site, you run the risk of increased theft and insurance claims.
If you’re still debating between steel-ply and aluminum forms, contact Forming America to learn more. As a concrete forming and shoring equipment company, we sell, rent, and renovate formwork. Our specialty is Symons Steel-Ply forms and accessories, but we also handle other types and brands of equipment, including European crane set clamp forms, residential forms, and heavy-duty shoring and scaffolding. Call us today at 1-888-993-1304.