What’s the difference between formwork and falsework in construction?
Formwork typically consists of temporary moulds to keep the shape of concrete until it hardens.
Falsework refers to temporary constructions – such as props or scaffolding – to support arched or spanning structures by holding them in place until they can support themselves. When falsework is used for arches, it’s often called centring.
Formwork and falsework may be confused by a layperson, because falsework can be used as a temporary support for the formwork that moulds concrete. In this sense, falsework may be regarded as part of the formwork.
Both formwork and falsework date from ancient times, and the Romans were renowned for using these systems in the construction of buildings, bridges and viaducts. Today, falsework still plays an important role as temporary support for formwork in the construction of buildings and bridges, and for projects such as elevated roadways.
Materials for falsework
A range of materials can be used for falsework, as long as they’re strong enough. Traditionally, timber was used for all aspects of falsework. Nowadays, proprietary aluminium or steel systems are popular. A specialised form of falsework relies on compressed air.
Typical falsework systems include:
- Aluminium support legs and frames.
- Aluminium or steel props with timber beams or proprietary panels.
- Heavy steel falsework.
Materials for formwork
As with falsework, different materials are available for formwork, including:
Crucial role of formwork and falsework in construction
Formwork and falsework are combined to create straight or curved structures such as concrete walls, pillars and foundations.
While falsework is routinely used for new builds, it may also be needed to provide temporary support in instances of damaged structures.
Both formwork and falsework play a critical role in construction, ensuring the structural integrity and desired architectural design of the finished product.