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What is Shuttering in Construction?

On the construction site, shuttering is utilised as a temporary mould into which concrete is poured to create the necessary structural shape. Traditional shuttering is made of wood, although it can also be made of steel, plastics reinforced with glass fibre, and other materials.

In the infrastructure and construction sectors, shuttering work is comparable to a mould used to cast concrete members in a variety of shapes and sizes from wood to steel to aluminium to plastic. Formwork is referred to as shuttering. During the concrete casting process and afterwards, until the concrete gets hard and reaches a certain percentage of the intended strength, it must have sufficient strength to support the dead weight and live load that will be placed on it.

Shuttering is essential to the construction industry. It must be strong enough to support all of the loads involved in operations and then maintain its shape when the concrete dries. It can be used as either temporary or permanent moulds to keep the concrete in place when it pours until it hardens and becomes strong enough to stand on its own. A structure’s shuttering serves as a mould for the construction of its ancillary components. Concrete is only poured into the mould; it will later harden and become sufficiently strong. The time it takes to complete shuttering work accounts for between 23 and 25 per cent of the building’s overall cost, and perhaps even more. The concrete must be supported by these compact forms of structures until it reaches the necessary level of strength.

Prerequisites for Good Shuttering

General performance characteristics for concrete construction include the following:

  • It must have the strength to withstand any kind of dead load or live load.
  • With the right supports and braces, it should keep its size and shape.
  • The shuttering’s joints need to be secure against leaking and made of cement grout.
  • To maintain its shape, it should be firmly built and adequately propped and braced on both the horizontal and vertical axes.
  • It ought to be constructed from recyclable and reusable materials.
  • If the shuttering is detachable, the concrete must not be harmed during the operation.
  • The shuttering’s material should be inexpensive and easily accessible.
  • The Shuttering should be made of as light a material as feasible.
  • It must be precisely adjusted to the desired line, and levels must have a level surface.
  • When exposed to the environment, the material used for the shutters shouldn’t deform or change shape.
  • The shuttering’s design should allow different portions to be removed in the desired order without harming the concrete.
  • It should have a sturdy foundation.

Types of Shuttering

Shuttering can be classified based on materials and structural components.

Based on Materials

The following are different types of shuttering materials used on construction sites.

Timber Formwork

One of the first and still most popular types of formwork in the construction business is timber shuttering. Normally, it is put together on-site. To make sure it is termite-free, the quality of the timber formwork must be carefully examined before use. Timber shuttering also has two drawbacks that should be taken into account when utilising it: it has a short lifespan and takes a long time in complicated projects.

Timber shuttering should be utilised, but it should be cut into pieces big enough to be reused. When labour costs are low or several concrete sections require flexible formwork, timber shuttering is typically preferred.

Plywood Shuttering

A synthetic, produced timber sheet in various thicknesses and widths called plywood shuttering is used as formwork for concrete members. It is lightweight, enduring, and robust enough. One of the most used materials for decking, linings, and sheathing in shuttering is plywood. 

Similar characteristics of plywood shuttering to those of timber shuttering include strength, durability, and low weight.

Plywood shuttering is more affordable than timber shuttering and might even end up being less expensive when the following factors are taken into account:

  • A smooth finish is conceivable, in which case there is surface finishing.
  • When compared to wooden shuttering, there are more reuses. The number of reuses can be estimated to be between 20 and 25.
  • Shuttering types provide for greater labour cost savings during installation and disassembly.

Aluminium Shuttering

Steel and aluminium shuttering are fairly comparable. The primary distinction between aluminium and steel is that the former is lighter due to aluminium’s lower density.

Before employing aluminium in a construction project, it must be taken into account that it is less strong than steel.

If many construction projects with the same repeated usage are made, aluminium shuttering is cost-effective. The biggest drawback is that once the shuttering is built, no changes can be made.

Steel or Metallic Shuttering

Steel shuttering consists of panels made of thin steel plates that are fastened around the edges by tiny steel angles. An appropriate clamp or bolts and nuts can be used to secure the panel units together. Most bridge construction projects use this kind of shuttering.

Due to its many reuses throughout a lengthy lifespan, steel shuttering is currently growing in popularity. Although steel shuttering may be expensive, it may be used for many different projects and structures. The concrete surface can be finished very smoothly and evenly with steel shuttering. For circular or curving constructions like tanks, columns, chimneys, sewers, tunnels, and retaining walls, it is ideally suited.

Plastic Shuttering

Interlocking panels or modular systems composed of strong, lightweight plastic are used to create plastic shutters.

It functions best in tiny, repetitive-task projects like low-cost house developments. It can be applied to straightforward concrete constructions. Plastic shuttering is suitable for big portions and several reuses and is lightweight and water-cleanable. Because many components are prefabricated, it has less flexibility than lumber, which is its biggest disadvantage. These shuttering techniques are becoming more popular for large housing projects and similar-shaped structures.

Coffer Shuttering

A formwork system that stays in situ is coffer shuttering. It comprises two filtering grids that are joined by articulated connectors and strengthened by vertical and horizontal stiffeners. The connectors can be folded for on-site transportation. After the concrete is poured, the coffer shuttering stays in place and serves as reinforcement. The prefabricated coffer is shipped from the factory to the construction site. Any sort of structure, including a house and multistory buildings, can use these shutters.

Based on Structural Components

The materials and necessary thickness are specified in the respective building plans, and all types of shuttering are designed by the unit or structure they support. It is crucial to remember that building with forms requires more time.

The shuttering types depending on structural elements are listed below.

Wall Shuttering

Shear or RCC walls in dams, wing walls, basement RCC walls, etc. are concreted using wall shuttering. The inner side of plywood sheeting boards is fastened to vertically arranged upright timbers to form wall shuttering. Boards at the sides are used to diagonally reinforce the upright timbers.

Beam Shuttering

The most important structural component of an RCC-framed building is the beam. Beam shuttering includes bottom and side sheeting panels as well as prefabricated shuttering. Based on the size of the beam, the shuttering’s component elements are made. Table fabrication is a step in the prefabrication of sheeting sections that must be completed on the construction site where concrete pouring will take place. These specific formwork materials are designed for the production of beams.

Column Shuttering

Depending on the shape of the column (rectangular, circular, hexagonal, etc.), the placement of the formwork may differ. The sheeting for the column shuttering is built using the column’s dimensions. With the aid of bolts, the panels are accommodated in a foot rim and secured to the ground.

Foundation Shuttering

The design of foundation shuttering depends on the type of foundation. The design of the formwork for a foundation depends on the type of foundation, such as raft, combination footing, or strip footing. The design for private foundations and formwork for strip foundations varies primarily. The size, primarily the height of the foundation, is used to estimate the shuttering design.

Permanent Insulated Shuttering

These are among the most cutting-edge shuttering systems available since they provide long-term insulation. Additionally, it might have thermal, fire, acoustic, and rodent-resistant qualities. The most prevalent kind of permanent insulated shuttering uses insulating concrete forms, which insulate concrete structures with polystyrene boards that remain in place after the concrete has dried.

Permanent insulated Shuttering reduces the environmental impact on the building industry by promoting energy efficiency and sustainability.


Shuttering is an essential part of construction that acts as temporary support and formwork for concrete structures, and it is essential for precision, completed product quality, and strength.

Steel, plywood, aluminium, and wood are all shuttering materials with varied advantages and considerations, and the choice of the best material depends on several factors, including the desired finish, the project’s needs, and the budget.

The longevity, stability, and safety of the construction process are all impacted by the choice of shuttering material.

The shuttering is one type of essential component of formwork that gives concrete shape and stability while it is being constructed.

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