Homemade scaffolding made from framing lumber can be just as sturdy and safe as standard, interlocking steel scaffolding and is considerably less expensive. When building a one-story house, much work needs to be done at an elevation of only a few feet. At this height, fascia, soffit, and eave construction will be within reach, and you’ll be able to install siding and trim over the entire surface of the exterior wall. This article will explain how to build scaffolding that will allow you access to every part of a typical residence, whether it is new construction or renovations to an existing structure. All that is required are linear, 10 feet or longer, 2x4 supports and walk planks, 2x6, 12 feet in length, minimum.
TIP: Building scaffolding is a big project, so before you start work consider the work and time involved and whether it's best to get several friends or assistants to help.
Step 1 - Attach the Blocks or "Scabs" to the House Frame
In new home construction, scaffolding is erected before installing siding and trim onto the built frame. The horizontal supports will be nailed to 2x4 blocks, or “scabs,” two or three feet long which are nailed flat directly onto the stud wall’s exterior surface. If plywood sheathing has been installed, nail through the sheathing into the stud, nailing each block thoroughly and securely. If the house is being renovated and the exterior cladding is already installed, you may be able to nail through the siding material into the wood stud. If you can’t fasten the block securely to the studs, you’ll have to remove enough of the exterior cladding so that the blocks can be nailed in place. Nail the blocks every 10 feet with one end aligned with each vertical leg at a height of four feet above the grade.
Step 2 - Erect the Horizontal Support Beams and the Vertical Legs
For one level of scaffolding, you’ll need 2x4 supports five feet long set vertically every 10 feet around the perimeter of the house. Cut 2x4’s four feet long to be used as the horizontal supports on which the walk planks will rest.
Holding the 2x4 level, perpendicular to the wall, and flat against the butt end of the scab block, nail through the end of the support into the butt end of the scab. Nail the other end of the support to the vertical leg, flat side to flat side, at a distance three feet from the wall. Fasten the support securely to the leg using five nails, and make sure that the vertical legs stand erect on solid ground.
Step 3 - Install the Walk Planks
Gather the lumber to be used for the walk planks. The planks need only be 2x6 or 2x8, but they must be long enough to span the horizontal distance between each pair of vertical legs and overhang by a foot at each end. Lay a pair of planks edge to edge onto to the horizontal supports and nail through into the 2x4 at each end. One nail is sufficient to keep the planks from sliding laterally. Install a pair of planks onto each pair of legs; drive a nail through the ends of both planks where the ends overlap. Two planks side by side will give you a walking surface of 12 to 16 inches in width.
If you are building two levels of scaffolding around a two-story house, the legs must extend up about 14 feet, or enough to reach the second level. Nailing onto the same vertical legs, install the scabs, horizontal supports, and planks at the second level, so that the work is comfortably within reach.
Use only full length lumber for the walk planks. Do not extend the supports or planks by nailing two boards together or you will compromise the integrity of the scaffolding. Also, take care not to put more weight on the planks than they can support.