A Cultural Curiosity: Bamboo v Steel Scaffolding For A Construction Site

Posted on: 10 June 2016

When it comes to scaffolding, you might think that metal scaffolds are the only choice on the market, particularly for a construction site. For the most part, you'd be right. This is because metal-based scaffolds such as steel are the most common for construction sites. Steel is one of the hardest metals on the planet. Stainless steel in particular, which is the most common form of steel for scaffolding, has a tensile strength of 90,000. To put this into perspective, stainless steel is over twice as durable as a metal such as aluminium.

However, there is another type of scaffolding that you might not be aware of. In countries such as Hong Kong and India, bamboo is the go-to material when it comes to building safe and trusty scaffolding. Bamboo is quickly assembled and the grass is reusable, which means it can be transformed from scaffolding to other useful amenities, such as walk-boards. This factor is what makes it one of the most popular materials for building scaffolds.

So how does a bamboo scaffold fair against steel? Here is a comparison of both types of scaffolds:

Bamboo Scaffolding

When you think of a natural grass such as bamboo, you might think that it breaks down quite easily. However, once a bamboo scaffold is assembled, it can be used for over half a decade before it needs to be replaced. The bamboo material is just as strong as steel, but the fact that it can be easily recycled makes it a popular and cost-saving option for a scaffold.

Fun fact: construction workers in Hong Kong and India turn bamboo scaffolds into walk-boards, and walk-boards into firewood once the material breaks down.

However, there are some negatives when it comes to using bamboo scaffolds. Though they are incredibly safe, they don't have any locks and pins as seen with steel scaffolds. Because the bamboo is tied together, the straps are capable of becoming loose.

Steel Scaffolding

Though bamboo scaffolding is a close rival to steel when it comes to strength; a steel scaffold has a few major benefits. To begin with, a steel scaffold will have a number of accessories including wheels and ladders, which can be fastened to the frame system. Steel scaffolding is also much more reliable when it comes to large construction projects. Unlike bamboo, a steel scaffold can be effectively engineered and tested for load capabilities. To add to this, a steel scaffold has no age limits. While a bamboo scaffold is effective for small projects, the flexibility of steel makes it the ideal option for large construction tasks.

There you have it, while a bamboo scaffold is feasible for smaller projects, the consistency and reliability of steel makes it the best choice for scaffolding.