Updated: November 2017

Guide to Buying Scaffolding:

Scaffolding Review - Scaffolding has come a long way since the ancient Egyptians used wooden scaffolds and ramps to haul monstrous blocks of stone, and even cattle, up massive pyramids. Today, we have our choice of steel or aluminum scaffolding in varying designs, heights, widths, and depths, but the basic premise remains the same. When you want to get heavy or cumbersome materials from here to there, scaffolding provides an answer - and a workspace as well. This guide will look at various types of scaffolding to help you decide which is the best for your needs, the features you can expect, and a price ballpark you're going to be hitting in.

What Type of Scaffolding Do You Need? - Different jobs require different types of scaffolding, which is pretty self-evident. What might not be so self-evident is which type you need for your particular tasks. This is important also because your budget will play a large role in your choice as well. Here are some basic types of scaffolding:

*Frame or fabricated scaffolding. This is a very common type. A system of integral posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members supports a platform or platforms. You will see this at any number of jobsites, from building to painting.
*Manually propelled. This is a scaffold system that is portable and mounted on wheels or casters. It is not powered by electricity or a motor.
*Pump jack. This is a system of vertical poles and movable support brackets supporting platforms.
*Tube and coupler. A platform is supported by a system of tubing, coupling devices, uprights, braces, bearers, and runners.
*Pole. Here, posts are interconnected with runners, bearers, and diagonals.
*Specialty. This is job-specific. You could get masons' scaffolding, painting scaffolds, decorators' and plasterers', or large-area scaffolding. There are many different types, and you may find that this type suits your purposes better.

How Do You Buy Scaffolding?:

Of all the types listed above, frame scaffolding is the most versatile and cost-effective. There are two different ways to buy these: through a kit or piece by piece. The advantage of a kit is that you get everything you need for that particular type of scaffolding. For instance, Scaffold Mart sells an 11-foot tower scaffold kit. This comes with 4 - 5x5 ladder frames, 4- 7 feet cross braces, 8 stack pins, 8 spring rivets, 3 steel walk boards, 4 level jacks, and 4 pig tails. This costs about $550 or $570 with wheels. (This is a direct-from-manufacturer price. You may pay much more at stores like Home Depot. A similar set, for instance, retails for about $1000). Buying piece by piece has the advantage of allowing you to customize scaffolding for your needs. Amazon, for instance, sells 5x5 foot Buffalo Tools Exterior Scaffolding Standard Frames by the piece. Each costs about $90. With 2 of these pieces and 2 -7 foot angle iron cross braces and 3 aluminum walk boards, you can create a stable, versatile platform. You will also need connector pins, adjustable stem jacks, and base plates or 8-inch casters with brakes. Buying piecemeal may be more of an effort, but you have to consider the versatility of the end product. If you need scaffolding for jobs like painting ceilings, installing cabinets, painting trim, and much more, you can find multi-purpose scaffold that is a bit easier and less expensive to buy. Buffalo Tools, for instance, makes the GSSI Multi-Purpose Scaffolding. It features a stackable steel frame with -inch plywood deck, 29-inch wide construction to fit through standard doors, adjustable height up to 6 feet, and 1000-pound weight support. The scaffolding measures 74x29x75 and is approved by both OSHA and ANSI for safety. The unit is stackable so you can extend its versatility and usefulness. To do this, you'll need outriggers for $93 which are triangle-shaped supports. There is also a safety rail system that you can purchase as well for $233. Amazon is a good place to buy these because you can choose to purchase them together to save money and shipping costs. Amazon reviewers say it is useful, good for the money, and very functional for both interior or exterior use. This can be painting scaffolding as easily as bricklayer's scaffolding. The versatility makes it a good buy. You can find other scaffolding units and towers here. If you have a lighter-duty job, like painting your ceiling, the Werner PS48 500-Pound Capacity Portable Scaffold is a good choice. This is very compact and easy to maneuver with high grade locking wheels, lightweight construction, fold-up storage, and multiple work levels. It is weight-tested at 500 pounds, so it's not going to be useful for a bricklayer, for instance. But interior housepainters will find it useful for higher work. The $113 price tag also makes it a good buy for homeowners who are do-it-yourselfers. If you need scaffolding, you can also rent it. This may be cost-effective, depending on your usage. For instance, if you're just going to paint the inside of your home, you probably don't need to invest in a scaffold system. But if you do extensive projects or have a job that requires scaffolding, buying your own can save you time and money.

Using Your Scaffolding Safely:

Scaffolding is most commonly portable, except on very large projects where it must be more stationary. While there are several benefits to using portable scaffolding, particularly its versatility, you do need to take extra precautions to ensure that you're safe and that the scaffolding will hold up to continued use. It is essential that the wheels be kept in good working condition. Take the time to remove any debris that may get caught up in them at jobsites. You don't want anything to interfere with the locking mechanism because this will cause the scaffolding to become unstable. Second, because these units are meant to be adjusted or taken apart more frequently, the hardware can experience more wear than normal. When setting up, check to make sure everything is tightened and secure. In addition, OSHA has rules regarding the use of scaffolding, such as needing a guard rail if the scaffolding is over 10 feet from a lower level. Make sure you know what the OSHA requirements are - especially if you are using this for your business. You don't want to be held liable for injuries that you could have helped prevent. Portable scaffolding can help make many jobs much easier for virtually any building or decorating professional. Look for durability, strength, and the best price, and then remember to use it safely.