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What Are the Best Tips for Building Scaffolding?

By Patrick Lynch
Updated May 17, 2024
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Building scaffolding involves using metal or wood to attach a work area to the side of a building or other secure structure. Wood is less expensive and more practical, so one should begin by attaching wooden uprights to the side of the building. Ribbon and ledger boards can be used to create a walkway for the workers to carry out their duties. A guardrail is also necessary for safety reasons when building scaffolding as is a toe board.

It is still relatively common to see scaffolding made from wood, as it is less expensive than metal. Before building scaffolding, a number of questions need to be asked. For example, it is necessary o determine how high the scaffolding will be, how much weight is to be placed on it, and to which building or similarly solid object it can be attached.

When building scaffolding, either pads or inside sills should be placed on the floor next to the area where the scaffolding will be placed. Pads are probably the best choice for uneven ground. Inside sills should be toenailed to both ends of the building and the uprights should be plumbed with a spirit level to ensure that they are straight. Wooden cleats can be used to attach the uprights to the building.

A ribbon board should be nailed to the uprights, 3.5 inches (9 cm) beneath the height of the plank. Then, more uprights should be nailed against the wall’s face. No more than 10 feet (3.1 meters) should separate them.

Another pad or upright sill should be placed on the ground while two uprights are nailed to the wall. In places where the outside and inside uprights connect, ledger boards should be nailed to them. These ledger boards should also be placed on top of the ribbon boards at the exact height where the wooden planks for walking will be laid.

Outside uprights go on the opposite side from the inside uprights and are secured in place with nails. Ledger boards should be used to connect the inside and outside uprights. Walking planks are placed on top of the ledger boards, and more ribbon and ledger boards are nailed at a second walking level. Diagonal braces should be added to the outside uprights for extra support before placing more walking planks on top of the second level of ledger boards.

A guardrail should be firmly secured approximately 42 inches (106 cm) above the surface of the walking boards and a mid rail at 28 inches (71 cm) above the boards. Safety is of paramount importance when building scaffolding. Nailing a toe board to the walkway is a good way to prevent objects from falling off the walking board. Falling objects could cause serious injury to those below.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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