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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Formwork for Your Project

Choosing the right kind of formwork is important when you are starting a building construction project. This will affect the durability and efficiency of the building or other structures. The choice depends on the project and there are many options available in different materials and designs. 

The following is a guide on how to select the proper formwork for your project:

Formwork and Reinforcement

Understanding Formwork and Its Importance

Formwork plays a key role in any concrete-based construction, as it defines the shape of the concrete. 

It is exposed to the pressure both of the poured-in fresh concrete and other elements acting upon the building such as wind or vibration forces, so it has to be of good quality and able to retain its shape. Ultimately, the better the formwork, the better the concrete structure.

Concrete Formwork Project by LF Construction Services

Types of Formwork Materials

Timber Formwork

Traditional and versatile, it is suitable for customised shapes but has a limited lifespan.

Timber formwork is one of the most conventional types of formwork. Due to the ease of cutting it into any shape and size, it can be used to build irregular and complex structures. 

Timber formwork is manufactured onsite; hence, it is mostly suited for small to medium-scale projects. It has good thermal insulation and is relatively low in initial cost. Its main disadvantages are warping and low durability, resulting in reduced reusability.

Concrete wall created from timber formwork

Steel Formwork

A stronger and longer-lasting material than timber, which is well-suited for repetitive structures in large-scale developments 

Steel formwork is also known as panelised formwork, which contains a large steel frame that is a highly versatile material. It is a compact, long-lasting material that can deal with heavy workloads. 

Steel formworks are highly reusable, and they can be used for several cycles of building, which makes them economical. Sometimes, it can provide decent surface finishing to concrete surfaces. 

It is the most convenient for mass construction. It is also known to be heavier among all of the forms of construction formworks making it difficult to assemble sometimes. Contractors need to use a lifting device to assemble them.

Aluminum Formwork 

Lightweight and easy to handle, with a longer lifespan than timber.

Aluminium formwork weighs less than steel. It is easy to handle, and less support is needed. There are many particles with aluminium formwork that cannot be used anymore. 

Reusing the aluminium formwork can reduce the cost. It can be used to build different kinds of buildings like residential and high-rise towers as well. Aluminium formwork can make the construction cycle punctual and it promises surface quality.

Plastic Formwork

A cost-effective, eco-friendly option for small, repetitive structures.

It is made from lightweight and durable plastic. It is easy to transport and install. Also, this product can be used for many types of applications, such as:



Slabs and more... 

The plastic system is able to withstand harsh environments also. It is a recyclable material, and it can be reused many times at low cost. 

Furthermore, it is waterproof and corrosion-resistant. Finally, I can say that PLASTIC FORMWORK is highly and greatly recommended for bridges and arches restrictions. 

In conclusion, it is better and strongly recommended for any type of construction. 

Formwork Ply

In the jargon of carpenters, they call it ‘shuttering ply’ ­– a shot of phenolic paper over plywood that produces a super-smooth concrete finish.

Plywood formwork is widely used with buildings and bridges, and the most common form is called formwork ply or form ply, which is made by gluing multiple layers of wood veneers from above and below together through special glue. 

It is called ply because it consists of more than one layer of veneers and formply or formwork ply. 

Why is it called formwork ply or formply? Because it can be used as formwork to construct:

  • Pillars

  • Columns

  • Beams

  • Slabs

  • And Walls…

And also refers to formboard veneer formboard or general formply. 

This type of form has a very smooth surface, and if there are excellent operations, it can also be repeated several times. Formplying is also called the veneer-faced family because it is made of gluing wood veneers, especially a smooth wood veneer without other outer layers, also called veneer.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Formwork

  • Project Specs - How big is it, and what shape? How complex is the project or infrastructure?

  • Durability - Choose a formwork material that can withstand the required uses for your project.

  • Easy to use - It should be easy to put together and dismantle and save time and labour costs. 

  • Cost - Cost will be a factor in the choice of formwork material. Consider initial cost, the lifespan of the formwork, and any opportunities for reuse or refabrication to get the most value for your money.

  • Finish Quality - Finish quality can affect use and appearance, so it is important to consider the quality of the finish required and plan the type of formwork to be applied accordingly.

As manufacturing techniques in formwork evolve, efficiency and reduced environmental impact become key considerations. Some innovations include modular construction that can be constructed and deconstructed quickly and recyclable, natural, sustainable materials that offer high-quality finishes.

Sustainability and Formwork

Sustainable construction is currently a big focus on formwork: systems that can be recycled help reduce the CO2 footprint; certified raw materials, such as aluminium that has been responsibly sourced, are now the norm; and prompt installation also plays a part.


Getting the right formwork is a key element in ensuring the successful outcome of your building construction project. Using the tips outlined in this guide and keeping up to date with the latest developments, you will be able to make a choice of formwork that guarantees safety, durability and efficiency. Choose timber, steel, aluminium or ply form. Get in touch with the LFCS team if you need advice on choosing the right formwork for your project.


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