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What Is Formwork Timber?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

Formwork timber is a structural support for molds used in concrete projects. It can be used to make forms for pouring concrete, or to support big panels to make a larger formwork installation. Depending on the materials used, it may be possible to reuse the timber between projects, especially if it is handled with care. Hardware stores may carry a range of timber suitable for this use, and it’s also possible to find manufactured wood products specifically engineered for use in formwork.

Before concrete can be poured on a construction site, it needs a mold to hold it in place while it sets. Molds provide shaping and stability as the concrete hardens and begins the curing process. In traditional timber formwork, workers set up a series of timber boards to the desired height, connecting them to make a continuous form for a project like a low wall. Another option is to use panels of materials like plywood to make a smooth surface, supported by formwork timber to hold the wood in place during the pouring and curing process.

Before work starts on a project, workers can measure and set up lines to define the space and make sure the outlines of any formwork will be plumb and square. Once they’re finished, they can start to put together the formwork timber to prepare the site. They make sure it is high and deep enough to accommodate the concrete and can also add structural steel to support the concrete, if it’s necessary for the project. Steel bars can stabilize and strengthen walls and floors that might have to bear large loads to make sure they won’t fail under stress.

Plain wood can be used for formwork timber, along with engineered woods and plastic products. In the case of plain wood, workers may treat it with oil or other materials before use to prevent sticking. This makes it easier to remove the forms after the project hardens and also makes it possible to reuse the timber on other projects. Wood tends to degrade quickly in multiple formwork uses unless it is treated. Construction firms may prefer engineered products which hold up better over time and are specifically designed to fit together so they can be assembled quickly and easily.

The best choice of materials for formwork timber can depend largely on the specifics of the project. For home improvement activities, scavenging available lumber and oiling it to make it easy yo remove can be the most cost effective solution. Construction firms that regularly work with concrete might want materials that will withstand reuse, because they will have formwork needs in the future.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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