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The most important factor in choosing the best formwork system is to begin the selection process very early on in the planning stages of your project. Selecting the best system can be much easier if you develop a relationship with a formwork supplier, and make use of his or her input while drawing up plans. The two main categories of systems you will have to choose from are typically inexpensive systems that are also labor intensive, and labor-saving systems that are more expensive. That means it can be important to consider the cost and availability of labor in your area, in order to stay within the budget of your project. Other factors to consider when choosing between formwork systems are the unique concerns of your particular job site, the availability of various formwork materials, and whether the supplier offers services such as pre-assembly of some components and field training for your workers.
Formwork is a type of construction material that can be used to contain concrete after it has been poured, but before it can support itself. These materials are typically removed once the concrete is hard enough, though in some cases they are left in place and essentially become a permanent component of the structure. Simple formwork can be constructed out of wood on a custom basis, but most of these materials are acquired from specialized suppliers.
The best way to choose a formwork system is to begin considering your options during the design phase of a project. This can allow you to contact a number of different formwork system providers, obtain rough estimates, and develop a relationship with the company of your choice. Formwork suppliers can be valuable during the planning phase, since these companies employ experts who can help you make the best decisions about different systems.
Another early decision you will need to make is what type of formwork system to go with. Traditional formwork was made from wood, and custom built for each project, though a number of prefabricated and engineered solutions exist as well. Wooden formwork systems are typically very labor intensive, and you may be able to construct them for simpler projects without even dealing with a formwork supplier. Other designs, such as plastic formwork, are modular and reusable so that they can be used repeatedly for many different concrete projects. If you do a lot of simple concrete work then you may want to purchase a plastic formwork system.
Other fiber-reinforced plastic formwork systems are designed to remain in place after construction to provide additional shear strength. These systems also need to be purchased, since they cannot be returned to a formwork supplier after the job is done. In general, you should also consider purchasing your formwork instead of renting it if your job will take more than about ten months; though that is a financial decision, a supplier can often help you make the best choice.
"If you were worried about losing moisture to the soil when pouring concrete, a damp proof membrane would be a much better alternative that using permanent formwork. This is much cheap and much quicker. The life span of the formwork would probably be reduced if it was in contact with the ground."
I've never seen this method, it sounds a little over the top.
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