Scaffolding, or a scaffold, is a temporary structure used during the construction, maintenance, or repair of a building to provide workers with access to the building, as well as to create work and storage areas. There are many types of scaffolding, including metal scaffolding and wood scaffolding, but in many countries, especially in Asia, bamboo scaffolding is preferred. In Asia, bamboo is a favored scaffolding material because it is plentiful, lightweight, cheap, strong, and can be handled without the need for machinery. Bamboo scaffolding can also easily be assembled and disassembled manually by workers to be reused at another work site. The high tensile strength and flexibility of bamboo makes it possible to build safe scaffolding, as long as proper bamboo material is selected and the workers are properly trained in how to use it for construction.
There are three main parts of scaffolding: standards, ledgers, and transoms. Standards are the upright, vertical parts of the scaffolding; ledgers are the horizontal pieces that connect the standards; and transoms are the pieces that rest on top of the ledgers and are used to provide extra support to the scaffolding structure. Metal scaffolding, which is built using metal tubes and pipes, uses metal couplers to hold these parts together. In the construction of bamboo scaffolding, nylon straps are used as couplers.
In Asia, bamboo scaffolding has been used for centuries, and is still used today for construction projects, including high rises, skyscrapers, and industrial scaffolding. Bamboo is preferred over steel and other metals for several reasons. For example, bamboo can easily be cut to size at the work site to fit a particular project, and is lighter and easier to transport and handle than metal. Bamboo is also a resilient material, with a higher tensile strength than steel, meaning it can withstand more pulling and stretching. Ecologically, bamboo also has advantages since it is grown rather than manufactured, making it a renewable resource.
To ensure bamboo scaffolding safety, it is important that the bamboo used is appropriate. Two types of bamboo, mao jue and kao jue, are most commonly used when building bamboo scaffolding. The bamboo has to be properly dried and not have any cracks or rot. Further, the pieces used for bamboo scaffolding have to be of the right size. Usually, the main bamboo scaffolding parts are approximately 2.7 inches (70 mm) in diameter, while supporting parts can have a diameter of approximately 1.6 inches (45 mm).