Last edited 20 Apr 2017


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Formwork is the term used for a temporary mould into which concrete is poured and formed. Traditional formwork is fabricated using timber, but it can also be constructed from steel, glass fibre reinforced plastics and other materials.

Timber formwork is normally constructed on site using timber and plywood. It is easy to produce, although it can be time consuming for larger structures. It is used when the labour costs are lower than the cost of producing re-usable formwork from materials such as steel or plastic.

Re-usable plastic formwork is generally used for quick pours of concrete. The formwork is assembled either from interlocking panels or from a modular system and is used for relatively simple concrete structures. It is not as versatile as timber formwork due to the prefabrication requirements and is best suited for lost-cost, repetitive structures such as mass housing schemes.

Stay-in-place structural formwork is generally assembled on site using prefabricated fibre-reinforced plastic. It is used for concrete columns and piers and stays in place, acting as permanent axial and shear reinforcement for the structural member. It also provides resistance to environmental damage for both the concrete and reinforcing bars.

Proprietary systems are used to support vertical formwork while concrete cures, consisting of a series of tubes and ties.

When selecting formwork, the type of concrete and temperature of the pour are important considerations as they both effect the pressure exerted.

Once the concrete has gained sufficient strength the formwork can be struck (removed). A minimum value of 5N/mm2 is recommended in all cases when striking vertical formwork as so not to damage the permanent concrete in the process.

High quality workmanship and inspection are necessary to ensure a high standard and appearance of the resulting concrete structure.

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[edit] External references

  • BS5975:2008 + A1: 2001 Code of Practice for Temporary Works Procedures and the Permissible Stress Design of Falsework (BSI 2011).