How to Build Scaffolding (and When It’s a Better Idea Than Using a Ladder)
Build scaffolding yourself makes it easier for you to work safely and comfortably on the upper portions of your home’s exterior. Read this guide to reach new heights outside your home.
Painting a home’s exterior, installing new siding, and putting up new gutters are just a few of the projects that require reaching elevated areas of a home’s exterior. While an extension ladder is one option, a ladder often doesn’t create a stable surface from which to work and constantly requires you to reposition it to cover the entire project area.
Sometimes a better and often safer means of reaching those elevated areas of a home’s exterior is to build temporary wooden scaffolding. This guide will take you through the steps for building homemade scaffolding. After you know how to build scaffolding, it’s easier to work more safely on elevated parts of a home’s exterior.
STEP 1: Organize your materials.
The first step in building scaffolding involves gathering the materials and tools needed to construct the project. Two 8-foot-long 2x4s and a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood are needed to create the scaffolding frame. You’ll also need four 8-foot 2x6s to support the frame as well as two 2-foot-long 2x4s that will serve as anchors for the supports.
You’ll need a carpenter’s square to mark and a circular saw or chop saw to make cuts to the lumber. To attach the 2x4s and 2x6s, you’ll need 8-penny framing nails and a carpentry hammer. Finally, make sure to have a sledgehammer on hand to pound the anchors into the ground.
STEP 2: Assemble the scaffolding frame.
Building scaffold usually requires having enough space to lay out all of the materials and tools, and a space that is flat. After choosing the location, it’s time to start setting up scaffolding.
Nail a 3-foot-long and a 5-foot-long 2×4 together at right angles. Then, make two 3-foot-long triangles of 3/4-inch plywood and attach them to the 2x4s with 8-penny nails.
STEP 3: Build your supports.
A set of two double 2x6s can support your scaffold by serving as a brace. Nail two 2x6s together using the framing nails to make each brace. Use a framing square to mark an angle on one end of the double 2x6s so that it fits into the 90-degree corner on each of the scaffolding frame pieces. Cut the double 2x6s using a circular saw or chop saw.
STEP 4: Prepare anchors for the scaffolding.
Two 2×4 supports will attach to two anchors driven into the ground, creating a strong base that will support the scaffolding. Use the circular saw or chop saw to create a point on two 2-foot-long 2x4s to create both anchors.
STEP 5: Assemble the scaffolding.
Attach the two scaffolding frame pieces to the house using 8-penny nails, positioning them so they will allow you to reach the entire project area. When attaching the scaffold framing, make sure to drive the nails into the home’s framework to ensure they create a secure connection. Run 2×6 boards across the top of the scaffolding to serve as the walkway.
STEP 6: Stabilize the structure.
Trim the 2×6 supports to the proper length so that the cut ends fit into the corners of the scaffolding frame pieces and the opposite ends extend to the anchors. Attach the supports to the frame and the anchors using framing nails.
FAQs About How to DIY Scaffolding
If you’re wondering if scaffold towers are safe or if you require a license to use them, then read on for answers to some of the most popular questions about scaffolding.
Q: Are DIY scaffold towers safe?
DIY scaffold towers can be safe when you use the right construction methods. Use dimensional lumber and fasteners that are strong enough to support the load of workers and supplies and make sure to properly support the scaffolding.
Q: At what height do you need to use scaffolding?
In general, you should use scaffolding at a height that is 4 feet above a lower level. If scaffolding is more than 10 feet above a lower level, you should also use fall protection.
Q: Do I need permission or a license to put up scaffolding?
There is no requirement for permission or a license to put up scaffolding on your property.
For a quick review of these steps about how to make scaffolding, watch this video from Bob Vila: