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The Evolution of Scaffold Design

From high-rise buildings, or historical sites, to far-off places, scaffolding has always been a critical component to aid infrastructure improvements and expansion.  

We’ve come a long way since the early days of scaffold construction. As an industry innovator, we are proud to present the new evolution of scaffold design. Here, you will learn about the use cases for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and interactive 3D in scaffolding.


Bringing Your Vision to Life with Augmented Reality

To design safe and reliable scaffolding, you need the combined efforts and skills of numerous people: engineers, designers, estimators, and builders – as well as the building owners. Communicating an accurate scaffold structure to everyone can be a challenge, particularly with more complex drawings.

Historically, one of the most common planning methods has been to use a set of printed drawings. But visualizing a three-dimensional scaffold on a two-dimensional illustration is difficult. It’s all the more challenging to communicate to the scaffold team, including the building owner, the potential issues like electrical or piping obstructions. Failure to do so can cost you both time and money.

What if there was a way to conceptualize scaffolding from drawings? There is. Welcome to augmented reality, or AR.

Imagine a world where you look at a building façade and are able to simulate the proposed scaffolding in real life. Enabled by AR technology, you can now turn the job site into the construction site with life-size scaffolds. As you walk around and inspect the digital scaffolding, you can easily verify its structure and safety measures before building it. By removing guesswork, you can ensure that the scaffold is built and handed over as designed.

scaffolding software

Off-site inspection of scaffolding design is also possible with AR technology.

For example, you’re attending an important sales meeting to present a scaffold design for a building renovation. It has all the qualities that will benefit the construction crew – elegant design, cost effective, and simple to construct. The problem is, the client is not familiar with scaffolding, which limits him from visualizing your design and fully understanding the benefits that you are proposing. 

So, you lay out a large printed drawing of the plan in front of them and, voila, the drawing comes to life. Through your smart device, the scaffold structure appears on top of the drawing. Your client can now see your design in all its glory. You know right then that you’re going to get the job.

This application is also AR enabled, but it’s scaled down to a smaller model for mobile 3D viewing.

scaffolding software

Freedom to Imagine with Virtual Reality (VR)

As an extension of scaffold design software, a VR headset allows you to view the entire structure and access obstacles before the scaffold is built. With this ground-breaking technology, you’ll get a full idea of the scale of your scaffold and be able to interact with it digitally.

scaffolding software

Wearing the VR headset, you can virtually fly up the stair tower and float right at the overhang to make sure the painters can access the other side of the pipe for painting. It’s only one of the many use cases of virtual reality. It puts the design in perspective in a way that’s unattainable for people in print.

Interactive 3D: Mobility at Its Best

scaffolding mobile

The possibilities with a 3D model are endless.

For instance, while out of the office, you want to check if there is a cantilever in your design. Simply open up the app on your smart device to review the mockup. Once you are there, fly up to outside at the 6th level and confirm that you have indeed added the cantilever and there’s a double layer of bracing, just like you expected. This is an interactive 3D view.

Putting it Together with a Shared Design

Your scaffold team has a copy your drawings, and that’s only the beginning.

scaffold software

In reality, it takes lots of review and evaluation when working on-site. For example, there might be a complex area that requires a lot of section cuts and elevations.

With our Scaffold Design software, you can work closely with the foreman on the jobsite to easily make any necessary modifications to the scaffold. There’s no need to shut things down for redesign work–the job is ready to go once you are happy with it.

During the toolbox talk, the builders then view the design on a tablet and fly around the scaffold with the foreman to clarify the details. Having the virtual scaffolding at scale leaves no room for doubts or guesswork. There are no more questions as to what they’re going to build and how it’s expected to turn out.

Take an Evolutionary Leap in Scaffold Design

Scaffold Designer and Scaffold Viewer by Avontus make it all possible, from printed drawings to interactive 3D to virtual to augmented reality. The free Scaffold Viewer app transforms your Scaffold Designer drawings right before your eyes. Now, you can store designs in the cloud and access them from anywhere. Your scaffolding is right in your pocket, ready to be viewed and shared with your team and clients anytime.

Download Scaffold Viewer from (for free) and see for yourself.

Ready for more? Contact us at for a free demonstration today.

Introduction to Estimating Scaffold Materials & Costs with Scaffold Designer



Hand-drawn scaffolding designs are incredibly time-intensive and difficult for clients and work crews to revise and understand. Scaffolding design and estimation software, like Scaffold Designer and Quantify, improve design efficiency and accuracy with easy to manipulate 3D models. 

Our software helps scaffolding designers reduce the amount of time it takes to design scaffolding structures and lower costs caused by inaccurate designs. You’ll even find that it’s easier to share your designs with your team and clients. 

Below, check out our introduction to Scaffold Designer and learn how to design scaffolding and generate material estimates. 


What is Scaffold Designer?

Our scaffolding design software, compatible with VR/AR, uses a drag and drop interface that gives users the ability to develop scaffolding layout designs and quickly generate a bill of materials for client proposals and scaffold erection.


What types of scaffolding does Scaffold Designer support?

Scaffold Designer supports six major types of scaffolding, including:

  1. Cup Type
  2. Ring Type
  3. Kwikstage
  4. Haki
  5. Octo
  6. Safway


How does Scaffold Designer calculate materials?

The software is equipped with a customizable materials database, which includes parts numbers, dimensions and descriptions. You can even input your own materials. Designers and engineers can generate a Bill of Materials (BOM) for any designs and export to Quantify to generate a detailed cost estimate. Each estimate provides accurate measurements including height, width, overall surface area and more. 


How do you estimate scaffolding materials with Scaffold Designer?

Before you start estimating materials, you’ll need to design a scaffolding structure. The example below shows you how to design your first scaffold and estimate the amount of materials needed for your design.


Step 1: Preparing the Scaffolding Drawing Environment

After downloading and installing Scaffold Designer, get started by preparing your drawing environment.


1. Click on the desktop icon or application to launch Scaffold Designer.


2. The application automatically launches with the option for you to create a new scaffolding drawing.


3. Select your preferred drawing units, either metric units or US units.



4. To finish configuring your drawing environment, select your scaffolding type.



Step 2: Drawing Scaffolding with Scaffold Designer

Now that the drawing environment is configured, you’re ready to start designing. In the section below, you’ll learn how to add, edit, change and save scaffolding bays, as well as generate materials and cost estimates.


Step 2.1: Adding & Editing a Scaffolding Bay

1. To add a new scaffolding bay to your design, click and drag New Bay to your drawing page. Once you’ve added the bay to your drawing, you can view the object in 3D and edit bay level details.



2. With the Bay Level Editor at the bottom of the application, you can easily edit Bay Details, like the height and number of levels.



Step 2.2: Adding Additional Scaffolding Bays

In addition to adding bay levels, you can also add scaffolding bays to any side of your original design.


1. Click to select the original bay you created.



2. On the upper-left corner of the menu bar, select Add Bay from the Scaffold Tab to add a bay to any side.




Step 2.3: Changing Scaffolding Bay Dimensions

To customize your scaffold design, you can also easily change the dimensions of your scaffolding bays.


1. Select a scaffolding bay from your drawing.



2. Under the Scaffold tab, select the LR dropdown in the Bay Size/Elevation group and select your preferred size.




Step 2.4: Completing Basic Scaffolding

No scaffold is complete without ladder access and vertical braces, which is why Scaffold Designer has built-in features that give you the power to do both. 


1. Select the bay where you’d like to add the ladder and under the Scaffold tab, select Ladders.



2. To finish this sample scaffold, we’ll complete the model with supporting vertical braces. Under the Scaffold Tab select Side Settings and select the Top, Left and Bottom Face Braces.



Step 3: Creating a Bill of Materials

Now that you’ve designed your first set of scaffolding bays, by changing the dimensions and adding a ladder with braces, you’re ready to estimate the amount of materials needed to bring your design to life.


1. Under the Scaffold tab, select Bill of Materials to review the equipment list and scaffold units.



Step 3.1: Customizing the Bill of Materials

You’ll likely need to customize the BOM, based on the materials that you’re using for your project as well as the units. Scaffold Designer gives you the ability to change the part number, material description and modify for all materials. 

1. To make changes to the BOM, simply select the box where you’d like to make your changes and adjust the cell numbers until they meet your needs.



2. Aside from scaffolding materials, Scaffold Designer also allows you to view the Scaffolding Units for the overall structure.



Step 3.2: Improving Stakeholder Workflow

Rather than printing or exporting separate files for your stakeholders, Scaffold Designer makes it easy to keep the design and material estimates together.


1. When you’re done customizing your materials, simply select Copy to Clipboard and select Close BOM to return to your drawing.



2. Right click anywhere on your drawing page and select Paste to add your BOM. You can resize and move the material estimates wherever you’d like on the page.



Congrats for making it through your first tutorial on how to design scaffolding with Scaffold Designer and generate material estimates. To learn more about using Scaffold Designer for your next installation project, contact us or read more about our scaffolding design software.

Scaffolding Estimates for Top Buildings Around the World

As scaffold designers and engineers, it’s likely that you’ve traveled with your family or friends and the thought has crossed your mind, “How much scaffolding would it take to cover that building?” From the White House to Buckingham Palace, we tried to create scaffolding estimates for buildings that most designers dream of working on. Using Scaffold Designer, we were able to develop estimates on the total volume, maximum height, the total number of pieces needed and the total weight to scaffold these iconic buildings.

Below, you’ll find estimates on how much scaffolding it would take to scaffold buildings around the world, from the White House to the Buckingham Palace. So next time you’re visiting or working on a site in Washington D.C. or London, you may just have a rough answer for the total amount of materials needed to scaffold the historical buildings of each city.

The United States White House

At roughly 51 m long and 21 m tall, the unique columns and parapets of the United States White House pose a challenge for scaffold designers and engineers. Planned and constructed under the personal supervision of the 1st President, George Washington, the White House has seen several architectural iterations that required scaffolding at different points in history. Below, you’ll find our estimates for just how much scaffolding it would take to cover the latest iteration of this iconic building.  

The Lincoln Memorial

If you’re working on a project in Washington D.C., then you can impress other designers, engineers and friends with your knowledge of the capitol’s architecture. Henry Bacon’s original design, which took over 8 years to complete, poses similar challenges to scaffolding designers and engineers as the U.S. White House. With 36 columns wrapping around the structure, this job requires a designer who is an expert in scaffolding structures. Next time there is a maintenance project, to ensure the Lincoln Memorial survives generations, you’ll have an idea of just how much scaffolding will be needed to complete the project.

Transamerica Pyramid

Nearly 3,000 miles across the United States, the Transamerica Pyramid stands out as one of the most well-known buildings in the San Francisco skyline. The four-sided pyramid building extends roughly 61 m in the air above its base, totaling 258 m. After four years of construction, it was the largest skyscraper in San Francisco until earlier this year when it was surpassed by the Salesforce Tower. Although it’s unlikely that the entire structure would be scaffolded, given the location of the Transamerica Pyramid in an area prone to earthquakes, there have been periods of time when scaffolding was erected atop the each wing. Below, you’ll find an estimate of the required materials for scaffolding the entirety of this iconic San Franciscan building.

Notre Dame Cathedral

As the oldest and most revered building on this list, the Notre Dame Cathedral has undoubtedly seen periods of scaffolding since construction began in 1163. Unlike the other Western buildings on our list, the Notre Dame Cathedral took many decades to comp

lete and passed through the hands of several architects and designers. If you read through people’s experiences of visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, then you’ll find plenty of references to the many years that scaffolding graced its walls. At roughly 69 m high and 128 m long, the Notre Dame Cathedral requires a significant team of scaffold designers and engineers to construct a structure large enough to cover its facade — and we’ve estimated just how much that is.

Big Ben

Although some of the buildings on our list haven’t been scaffolded for years, the Big Ben was covered up in early October and will continue through the holidays. At 98 m high, the Big Ben requires a scaffolding structure with a strong base and protection barriers against the alarmingly loud 118-decibel rings that will continue into the holiday season. Completed in 1859, the neo-gothic structure has required multiple periods of maintenance over the years. Londoners are used to seeing the Elizabeth Tower covered in scaffolding and it seems like this year is no different.

Buckingham Palace

Arguably the most iconic building in England, the Buckingham Palace is no small feat to scaffold. With major additions in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, residents and visitors are also used to seeing scaffolding around the royal quarters. Last year, scaffolding was even erected on top of the Buckingham Palace for maintenance to the palace’s flagpole.

Buckingham Palace is not only an interesting structure to scaffold due to its complexity, but it also played a major role in the scaffolding industry’s history. In 1906, Daniel Palmer-Jones and his brother, David Henry-Jones started the Rapid Patent scaffolding company and later won a bid in 1913 that led them to create the scaffixer in 1919, an innovative technology that led to the standardisation of the scaffolding industry. From all the buildings on our list, the Buckingham Palace was arguably the most important in helping to establish the scaffolding industry.

If you like scaffolding structures as much as we do, then chances are you’re excited to walk into the world with your newfound knowledge of how much scaffolding it would take to build iconic structures around the world. And if you’ve had the pleasure of working on one of these buildings, but never knew the final numbers, you can now brag to your friends about how much scaffolding your team was able to put up around these historical sites.

How to Make a Stencil of Frequently Used Beams

A new how-to article has been posted on the Avontus Help page.

To see the tutorial on how to create Beams, click here.

All About Beams

A new how-to article has been posted on the Avontus Help page.

To see the tutorial on how to create Beams, click here.

Scaffold Designer Is Ramping Up!

A new how-to article has been posted on the Avontus Help page.

To see the tutorial on how to create sloped decks and ramps, click here.



With Casters, Scaffold Designer Is On a Roll!

Casters have been one of our most requested features. Now you can add casters to any or all verticals of any scaffold tower. Choose between two types of casters, fixed and adjustable.

Add Casters to any Scaffold

Use the Bay Details window to add casters to any scaffold tower. The new “All” column makes adding changes to all verticals or sides even easier!

Choose Between Fixed and Adjustable Casters

To adjust the length of any caster, select Adjustable Caster set the Jack Height

Add any Size Casters

Use the Material Master to add any size Casters


Tanks A Lot!

Originally posted on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

With the latest release of Scaffold Designer, drawing scaffolding around tanks and other round structures is easier than ever.

For a full-size version of the video, click here.




The new Polygon Wall feature converts tank objects into regular polygons, which makes creating a Tank Scaffold literally as easy as 1, 2, 3!


1. Create a Tank.





2. Convert the tank to a Polygon Wall.



3. Create a Wall Scaffold on the polygon.



It’s as easy as that.

By: Cliff Young



Scaffold Failure in Houston

Originally posted on Sunday, October 25, 2015

You may have seen the news on the ring-type systems scaffold that collapsed in Houston last week. It’s an unfortunate event and those of us in the scaffolding industry know that it happens more than we’d like. I’ve reviewed some pictures and video from here ( as well as a video here ( to see if we can figure out what happened.

This is an article about scaffolding design and engineering to illustrate the importance of calculating the load on a scaffold leg. It is intended to be a learning experience that will hopefully educate people on how to avoid overloading scaffolding. Although we reach what seems like a conclusion here, it’s solely a theory given a limited set of data. I’m sure that lots of smart people will be investigating this accident (in court unfortunately) and will be provided with additional data to be considered.



It’s hard to tell from a scaffold lying on the ground after a failure, but there is actually a lot of useful data we can use to form our theory. We can pause the video as well as look at the parts of the scaffold that didn’t fail to get most of the details we need. For sure it was used for bricklaying, as there are bricks all over the ground as well as still on the scaffold that’s falling.

As is common with these types of scaffolds, there is a side bracket on the building face so that the workers can get close to the wall. In the case here, the side bracket looks like a “3 board bracket,” which fits three boards, approximately three feet long. Typically there are no diagonal braces on the face towards the building on these scaffolds, which you can also see.

Although some of the bays on which bricks are sitting appear to be five feet long by four feet wide, there are bays longer than five feet in pictures of the main part that failed. The most common ledger length in the US is eight feet, so we will use this length in our calculation. Some people may think this is excessive, but you cannot guarantee which bay will be loaded.

The scaffold appears to be 11 levels high.

The drawing shown here was created in Scaffold Designer. It is an estimate based on what can be ascertained from the pictures of the scaffold failure and is sufficient for our leg load calculation.



During the creation of construction drawings, scaffolding engineers perform a simple leg-load check to make sure the scaffold legs can hold the weight. Although lots of other elements are also checked, this is the primary one. The design load (referred to as the “allowable leg load”) for a ring type of scaffolding like this one is around 5,000 lbs. per leg. Each leg is checked to make sure it doesn’t exceed this value. The allowable load has a 4:1 safety factor, which means the ultimate failure load is 20,000 lbs.

It is likely that the interior leg doesn’t have diagonal bracing, which further reduces the allowable leg load. Therefore, for this case, let’s consider a conservative decrease of 20% of the leg load.

Allowable Leg Load: 4,000 lbs.
Failure Leg Load: 16,000 lbs.

When calculating a simple leg load for a scaffold like this, we assume that it will have proper bracing, footing, ties to the building, etc. If not, we account for these in our calculations. If the final leg load is close or matches the allowable, and the contractor cannot reduce the size of the scaffolding, then further analysis is commonly performed using 3D structural analysis software.



There are two types of load to consider when calculating leg loads: dead load and live load.



The dead load is the weight of the scaffold itself as well as anything permanently attached to the scaffolding. Dead load does not change throughout the life of the scaffold. Live load is a variable loading that may change, such as people walking around or load from bricks or sand from blasting operations.

Using Scaffolding Designer we can see that the highest dead load (mostly from the steel planking) is 3,275.3 lbs. and it’s on the interior leg that is closest to the wall.

Dead Load: 3,275 lbs.



Live loads are standardized across the world and any engineer that designs scaffold knows what they are and when to use them. In the US, we use 25 psf loading for light duty, 50 psf for medium, and 75 for heavy duty. This is bricklaying, so it is 75 psf, but that includes the loading from the brick on the scaffolding. Because we’re going to use the actual weight of the brick, let us use the industry average for only people, which is 25 psf.

The leg load due to only the live load, on one bay, is 25 psf times the tributary area of the bay (shown below – 8 feet by 4 feet – 10.75 inches, which includes the side bracket).


Tributary Area39.2 sf
Live Load25 psf
Working levels1
Live Leg Load (lbs.)980



For our calculation we’re also going to add the actual load of the brick to see what happens. A pallet of bricks is around 2,500 lbs. and it appears about a half of a pallet was placed on each bay, or 1,250 lbs.


This 1,250 lbs. is divided by 4 legs resulting in 312.5 lbs. per leg. However, in bays that share a leg, both shared legs receive the weight of this tributary load. Each shared leg now bears 625 lbs. per level. Amazingly, it appears that all of the levels are loaded with brick. This is 625 lbs. per leg per level times 11 levels, which results in a total brick weight on the scaffold of 6,875 lbs. per leg.


Since we now have our dead load, live load from people, and brick loading, we can calculate the total leg load.

Dead Load3,275
Live Load980
Brick Load6,875
Total Load (lbs)11,130

The total load of 11,120 lbs is only one pallet of bricks away from an ultimate failure load. However, the leg load when only considering dead and live loads (4,255 lbs.) and not including the brick load still exceeds the allowable of 4,000 lbs, which is very bad.



Remember that, like all science, we make a lot of assumptions here to decide why it ultimately failed. We don’t know the exact configuration or loading of the bay that failed first, nor if there was any other loading. There is an unconfirmed report of a car hitting the scaffolding, which could be a contributor, but unfortunately the scaffold is still overloaded and could have survived a car destroying a leg. At no point in time should a scaffold ever violate a 4:1 safety factor.

As with any failure, it is often not one thing that is solely at fault. Even the Titanic sinking falls into this category. Although the major cause was a collision with an iceberg, the ship itself was declared “unsinkable” because it had double steel hulls. In the Titanic’s case it turns out that the carbon used to manufacture steel at the time had a high concentration of sulfur, which made the steel extremely brittle at cold temperatures. The hull effectively shattered like glass.

What could have been done to avoid overloading this scaffold in Houston? The biggest load is clearly from the bricks but the dead load is pretty high itself. The scaffold could have been built with a single level that could be moved as the bricks go up. This would also guarantee that no more than that one level would be loaded.

By: Brian Webb



How to Add a Loading Bay in Scaffold Designer

Originally posted on Friday, May 22, 2015

You can now add Loading Bays to your scaffold designs.



Create a bay with dimensions that match your scaffold system’s loading bay



RingType: 2.5m (8’6”)

CupType: 2.4m (8’0”)

Kwikstage: 2.4m (8’0”)


(Loading Bay Transom is Kwikstage only.
For other systems, use appropriate load bearing member.)


Tip: If you want to use a different size loading bay, you can add one in the Material Master.

First select the existing Loading bay, then make a duplicate and change its dimensions.

Select the bay and, in the Bay Level Editor, click the More button on the level you wish to add the Loading Bay to. On the Level tab, select the side for the Loading Bay Gate.


Return to New Enhancements for Scaffold Designer

By: Cliff Young