What Are the Three Types of Scaffold

If you are inexperienced or new to construction, you could think that all scaffolding is the same – in a sense, that is true. Scaffolding has remained mostly unchanged for thousands of years, based on the same fundamental principles. However, within this landscape of bars and fasteners, there is a remarkable degree of diversity.

The type of scaffolding used in construction depends on the specific project, with options ranging from single to double and steel to trestle. However, even though there are several varieties of scaffolding, they can be broadly classified into three basic groups: suspended, support, and aerial.

In this post, you will discover the many types of scaffolding and the most appropriate situations to use them. Therefore, you will have the necessary information to make a well-informed choice regarding the optimal utilization of St Ives Scaffolding for your upcoming construction endeavor.

Assisted scaffolding

You have probably noticed supported scaffolding while walking down the street, and you may have even walked through the passageways it provides when built over the sidewalk. Supported scaffolding is the most often encountered type of scaffolding. It refers to all kinds of structures that are constructed from the bottom and rely on the floor for stability. Usually, it consists of one or more platforms, each of which is held up by sturdy supports, such as poles, legs, or frames.

Ladders are employed for ascending this type of scaffolding or for linking the intermediate sections of the scaffold, which are referred to as platforms. Typically, supported scaffolding is made consisting of wood and poles that are utilized to construct a frame. The frame can be fixed, as is the situation with single or double scaffolding, or it can be standalone and movable – connect a set of wheels to the foundation.

At St Ives Scaffolding, we use many forms of support scaffolding, such as single scaffolding, double scaffolding, and cantilever scaffolding. These are utilized in typical construction projects where there are no limitations on ground space. Tasks that necessitate supported scaffolding include bricklaying during house construction or renovating old stone masonry on a huge building such as a cathedral or church.

To learn more about supported scaffolding, please visit our article that discusses the many types of scaffolding used in construction.

Suspended scaffolding

Have you ever walked down the street and seen a platform hanging from the side of a building? The device is referred to as a suspended scaffold and consists of a platform for work that is suspended from the roof using wires, ropes, or chains. The scaffolding system utilizes pulleys, levers, and switches, which together allow you to lower (or raise) yourself along the side of the building to reach areas of the structure that are often inaccessible. 

The advantage of suspended scaffolding is that it does not necessitate the extensive construction of supported scaffolding and, therefore, may be utilized for smaller-scale projects. Nevertheless, suspended scaffolding limits the number of individuals who can work to those who can fit onto the compact working platform or who meet the requirements of the supporting wiring, ropes, or chains.

The most popular type of suspended scaffolding is the two-point or swing stage. The platform is hung from an above structure using two sets of cables or ropes, which are connected to stirrups on both sides. If you have observed suspended scaffolding previously, it was probably a two-point method. Certain two-point systems also have numerous levels, which enable access to additional areas of the building without the need to relocate the platform. Nevertheless, the cable’s strength continues to restrict the maximum number of individuals allowed on the platform. 

Additional types of suspended scaffolding include catenary, float (or ship), single-point, and interior hung.

Suspended scaffolding is commonly used for certain jobs, such as repairing or painting the exterior of a building or house. It is also utilized on very tall buildings, such as skyscrapers, where constructing a supported scaffold is not possible. At St Ives Scaffolding, we don’t see many tall buildings, but we do offer suspended scaffolding for smaller projects.

Aerial platforms

The last type of scaffolding is aerial lifts. Aerial lifts can be seen as a blend of the two previous categories in certain aspects. Aerial lifts are anchored to the ground by a sturdy base, similar to supported scaffolds. However, it lets a user effortlessly navigate a structure, similar to a suspended scaffold. Aerial lifts are a type of equipment that may extend and lift persons standing on a platform to higher positions and locations. 

Aerial lifts are necessary at numerous locations because of their ability to move around easily and adaptability. Additionally, they are a much safer alternative to ladders and scaffolding. These gadgets are constructed from metal, fiberglass, reinforced plastic, or other durable materials. Both electric and manually operated variants are available, with the electric aerial lifts being installed on a vehicle for additional mobility.

Various types of aerial lifts include:

  • Electric scissor lifts.
  • Personnel lifts.
  • Electric boom lifts.
  • Straight telescopic lifts.
  • Towable boom lifts.
  • Atrium lifts. 

Aerial platforms are utilized for a range of applications. These may include, but are not limited to, maintaining lines such as cable or telephone; painting difficult-to-access areas; cleaning windows, especially on tall buildings; and on farms, when cutting trees or collecting fruit.

An aerial lift has a significant advantage in that it does not require any construction. The device may easily be transported or driven to the desired area and is immediately operational. Thus, aerial lifts are used in temporary construction projects, where constructing a complete scaffolding is impractical and time-consuming.


Recognizing the three primary types of scaffolds—supported, suspended, and aerial lift—lays the groundwork for safe and effective construction practices. Each type offers unique advantages and applications, from supported scaffolds grounded for support to suspended scaffolds hanging from above and aerial lifts providing versatile elevated platforms. Understanding their specific uses, limitations, and safety protocols is crucial for proper assembly, usage, and maintenance on construction sites. By prioritizing safety measures and selecting the appropriate scaffold type for the task at hand, construction professionals can create secure working environments and ensure efficient project execution, minimizing risks and enhancing workplace safety.

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