Managing Scaffolding Ties on Older Building Facades

Posted on January 31, 2022 in Scaffolding

When repairing or renovating older buildings, the suitability of the existing structure to support scaffolding must be carefully evaluated.  This is because scaffolding systems often rely on anchoring into existing facade elements for lateral stability.  The scaffold design may also require leg supports to rest on top of existing roofs or walls that will impart gravity loads into delicate structural elements.

Improperly designed or erected scaffolding can damage an older building facade – and put the users of the scaffolding at risk.  Additionally, historic buildings may also have ornamental details that could get lost or marred forever if the scaffolding is not erected properly.

For this reason, scaffold engineering for older buildings requires extra planning, evaluation – and a strategic design approach. This article will provide resources on how to do this and share the details about a specific project. 

Engineering Scaffolding Wall Ties for a Crumbling Facade

scaffolding on the side of the Buncombe County Courthouse in North Carolina.Securing a scaffold to a building’s facade can be achieved in a variety of ways. The strategy will depend on factors such as:      

  • the building’s geometry
  • applied wind loads
  • the scaffold configuration
  • construction materials being used
  • the condition of the existing facade  

The existing facade must be capable of resisting the applied loads from the scaffolding system or risk causing damage to the building and the safety of the work team. In some cases, an older building may not be suitable for certain securing methods because of the unreliability of the materials or substrates. 

When engineering a solution, the team must evaluate the suitability of a facade to secure a scaffold system. To do that, the Engineer of Record typically consults with a Scaffold Specialty Engineer early on in the project.  Together, they consider the options and develop a strategy to safely secure the scaffolding based on the facade’s structural integrity. Scaffolding Solutions offers this engineering service at no cost, utilizing its own in-house team of professional engineers to provide guidance and custom solutions. 

Several methods of securing the scaffold may be considered:

  • Mechanical anchors into mortar joints
  • Compression ties in window jambs
  • Compression wedging
  • Cabling
  • Buttress scaffolds
  • Counterweights
  • Direct-to-slab connections

After considering these options, the engineers will determine if the existing facade is suitable for supporting compression butt ties or if the scaffolding wall ties must be limited to a specific psi value. These details should be included in the Contract Documents, because they frequently affect both the scope and cost of the project.  

Some older buildings retain much of their original strength and integrity. For example, brick mortar joints on existing buildings may be perfectly suitable to resist the applied loads from scaffold ties. So, while some projects do have additional safety and engineering considerations, a consultation with a Scaffold Specialty Engineer can address and minimize these concerns. Scaffolding Solutions offers this engineering service at no cost, utilizing its own in-house team of professional engineers to provide guidance and custom solutions. 

Let’s take a look at a case study of an engineering solution for scaffold ties on a crumbling facade

The Greenville SC Hospital Renovation 

A hospital in Greenville, SC, needed renovations. The old bricks on the building’s exterior had crumbled in many places, making it necessary for the Scaffolding Solutions team to specially engineer a solution. The concern was in reducing the risk of additional damage to the facade and also ensuring worker safety. 

To safely attach the scaffolding to the building, the unstable brickwork required the custom development of a welded bracket. These brackets allowed anchoring the scaffolding beyond the brick, directly into the structural steel beams for a secure, stable anchor.

The Engineer of Record consulted with the Scaffold Specialty Engineer at Scaffolding Solutions early in the hospital project. Then they crafted the specifications and developed the limitations for the scaffold designer to follow. This early planning allowed the hospital wing to continue to remain open during most of the renovation schedule. 

The design of any scaffolding work must be carefully considered in advance of the project. However, this early project planning is even more important when considering an update to an older building. 

Working With the Right Scaffolding Engineers

Updating and renovating older buildings helps preserve the structure’s history and the practical uses of the building. Custom scaffolding wall ties are often key for projects to guarantee optimum levels for worker safety and the continued integrity of the building’s exterior. 

Working with the right scaffolding provider allows for a thorough assessment and a custom engineered strategy developed by experts. Contact the team at Scaffolding Solutions for reliable, reputable scaffolding services in your area. 

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