what is formwork

What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork

What Is Formwork?

Formwork is one type of temporary mold in which concrete is poured to cast the required shape of concrete.

Formworks are made from timber or steel, the surface in contact with the concrete being selected to give the required finish.

The formwork and its associated falsework must have sufficient strength to support the weight of the wet concrete without significant distortion.

There are various types of formwork in construction such as Timber Formwork, Steel Formwork, Aluminum Formwork, Plywood Formwork, Fabric Formwork, and Plastic Formwork.

Generally, once the concrete has gained sufficient strength, the formwork is removed although in some circumstances it may be left in place (permanent formwork).

For concrete formwork mostly timber and steel are the materials most commonly used for formwork, and a range of other materials are used, mainly for specialist applications.

The construction industry shows significant rapid growth with the commencement of modern technology.

Nowadays, building plans and designs of big structures are created using software, which has improved the pace, effectiveness, and safety of construction and substantially lowered costs alongside.

Moreover, the Construction material used is far more robust and long-lasting than those used even a short while ago, helping us to construct safer and more practical structures.

Formwork is an essential component in the construction industry and can be termed as a temporary or permanent form into which concrete is poured, which subsequently becomes hard.

Formwork in construction has been used for hundreds and thousands of years to aid in building structures of all sizes and shapes.

In Addition, different kinds of formwork have been used in Australia for more than 300 years ago since colonization.

Read More: How Long Should Concrete Cure Before Removing Forms

Importance of Formwork in Construction

  • No doubt formwork is essential for any construction; its main advantage is that it can’t be replaced with any other technology.
  • Using formwork concrete structures can be constructed quickly and in the most affordable way.
  • During all construction work periods, a formwork offers appropriate access and working platforms that considerably enhance workers’ scaffold safety.
  • Formwork helps in lowering the timeline and costs of the project by lowering the floor-to-floor construction cycle time, which means more projects can fulfill their budgetary demands.
  • Formwork facilitates construction managers to offer exact on-time shuttering and de-shuttering of formwork resources, which results in improving project effectiveness and resource usage.
  • Formwork is mainly associated with concrete. It helps in producing a smooth finished surface of the concrete.
  • It provides good structural safety by offering solutions against all overlay loads, producing exceptionally safe and practical structures.

Types of Formwork in Construction

Different formwork types are as follows,

  1. Timber Formwork
  2. Steel Formwork
  3. Aluminum Formwork
  4. Plywood Formwork
  5. Fabric Formwork
  6. Plastic Formwork

Let’s discuss the types of shuttering materials in detail,

1. Timber Formwork

Timber formwork is the most common type of formwork among all others. Timber forms are extensively used in construction since the ancient period. Timber formwork is the oldest type of form used in construction.

Timber Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 9

Timber formwork is one most used in construction among all other types of formwork. It offers onsite fabrication of the required shape and size.

It is easily used in any construction but it may prove time-consuming for large projects. Plywood formwork material has a short lifespan.

Timber Shuttering is low-cost and easily workable shuttering. It can be cut and joined in any shape and size. Timber shuttering should follow the following requirement:

  • Lightweight
  • Well-Seasoned
  • Free from termite attacks
  • Easily Workable

Advantages of using Timber Forms

  • Timber Shuttering is easy to form in any shape, size, and height.
  • It is proven
  • economical for Small projects.
  • It can make using locally available timber.
  • Timber is light-weighted compared to steel or aluminum Shuttering.

Disadvantages of using Timber Forms

  • This timber formwork is less durable as compare to other type of formwork.
  • Timber is combustible material which poses a fire hazard on construction site.
  • This timber formwork required a skill labour.

Read More: Building Construction Step-by-Step Process

2. Steel Formwork

Steel Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 10

Steel formwork is one become more popular due to its strength, durability, and repetitive reuse for a long period. Steel formwork is costly for small work but can be used for a large number of projects.

Steel shuttering offers a smooth surface finish to concrete compared to timber formwork. It can be used for circular or curved structures such as tanks, columns, chimneys, sewers, tunnels, and retaining walls.

Advantages of Steel Formwork

  • Steel is strong, durable & has a longer life.
  • It offers a smooth finish to the surface of the member.
  • It is completely waterproof or moisture-proof and minimizes the honeycombing effect.
  • It can be reused more than 100 times.
  • Steel formwork can be fixed and removed with greater ease.

3. Aluminum Formwork

As we know the density of aluminum is less than compare to steel and that makes it light weighted than steel. This is the main advantage when compared to steel.

 Aluminum Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 11

Aluminum formwork is almost the same as formwork made from steel. Shuttering down with aluminum form is proven economical if large numbers of repeating usage are made in construction. Its major drawback is that no alteration is possible once the formwork is constructed.

Read More: Which is the Best Cement for House Construction

4. Plywood Formwork

 Plywood Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 12

Plywood formwork is one of re-molded timber resin-bonded plywood sheets are attached to timber frames to make up panels of the required sizes.

It is strong, flexible, and easy to handle. Its life is too short compared to other materials.

5. Fabric Formwork

 Fabric Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 13

With the advancement and new technology trends in building planning and designing, the construction of complex-shaped structural members is increased.

To satisfy this need fabric formwork is introduced made the flexibility of this material makes it possible to produce concrete in any shape.

The flexibility of fabric formwork makes it possible to produce concrete members of any shape.

Advantages of Fabric Formwork

  • This fabric formwork is inexpensive as compare to other traditional type of formwork.
  • It requires less time for removal of formwork.

Read More: Types of Form-work and its Advantages

6. Plastic Formwork

 Plastic Formwork
What Is Formwork | Types of Formwork 14

Plastic formworks are lightly weighted, interlocking systems and can be used more than 100 times. It can be used for normal concrete construction. This type of formwork is now becoming popular for similar shapes and large housing schemes.

Advantages of Plastic Formwork

  • Plastic forms are light in weight and hence require less handling cost.
  • It can be utilized in the large concrete section.
  • If careful installation and use, multiple reuses are possible making it highly economical.


Why is formwork used in construction?

Formwork is used in construction to provide temporary support for wet concrete or other materials as they set and harden into the desired shape.

How is formwork installed?

Formwork is installed by creating a temporary mold that will hold the wet concrete or other material in the desired shape until it hardens.

How is formwork removed?

Formwork is typically removed after the concrete or other material has set and hardened sufficiently to support its own weight and any additional loads that will be placed on it.

Can formwork be reused?

Yes, formwork can be reused multiple times, depending on its type, quality, and condition. Proper care and maintenance can extend the life of formwork and reduce costs associated with purchasing new materials for each construction project.

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