System column formwork

The column formwork systems now available are normally modular in nature and allow quick assembly and erection on site while minimising labour and crane time. They are available in steel, aluminium and even cardboard (not reusable but recycled) and have a variety of internal face surfaces depending on the concrete finish required. Innovations have led to adjustable, reusable column forms which can be clamped on-site to give different column sizes


  • Increased speed and efficiency in construction.
  • The requirement of skilled labour is reduced due to the simplicity of assembly and disassembly.
  • Metal column forms can be assembled and erected more easily than traditional formwork.
  • Disposable forms come ready-assembled to site.
  • High-quality surface finishes are possible.
  • The highly engineered nature of the metal formwork system enables precision adjustment to the formwork.


  • Metal formwork systems can have integral ready-to-use concreting platforms with guard rails and access equipment including ladders. This reduces the need for independent access.
  • For systems with disposable formwork, working platforms for concreting have to be erected separately to allow safe access to the top of the column forms.
  • Formwork systems are available which need to be worked only from one side. This could be an important safety consideration for columns situated at building edges and corners.
  • Metal systems typically provide robust assemblies.
  • Assembly process is simple allowing site operatives to become familiar with health and safety aspects.
  • Normally these formwork systems require minimal use of power tools.

Other considerations

  • Column forms are designed for specific maximum concrete pressures. The concrete placement rates have to be adjusted to keep the concrete pressure within the specified limits.
  • The assembled formwork has to be restrained at the base properly to avoid displacement, and grout loss during concreting.

More information on formwork can be sourced from Formwork for Modern Efficient Concrete Construction, published by BRE.