Formwork – What is it and Why is it Used in Construction?

Formwork is a process used in the construction of some concrete structures. In this article we look at the basics of formwork and how it is used to create a variety of buildings and structures.

What is Formwork?

Formwork is essentially a type of mould in which concrete is poured and set. Various materials are used to create the form but the most common include timber, steel and plastic. Formwork is used to create the required shapes, and dimensions for concrete structures, in which wet concrete is poured into and held securely as it sets. Formwork allows architects to be more adventurous within their designs while still creating structures that adhere to the specific specifications and needs of a project.
concrete formwork
Types of Formwork

Traditional formwork was originally made from timber, however as technology within the construction sector has developed, we have seen formwork be made from many types of materials including steel, plastic and even 3D printed materials.

Formwork today is relied upon for its speed, efficiency and adaptability, the diverse range of formwork materials and designs available make it easier than ever to construct bespoke designs quickly and safely. Modern formwork also helps to minimize waste and complete projects more quickly. Some formwork designs are even built with enhanced health and safety features.


Shuttering is arguably the most common type of formwork used in construction today and uses timber or plywood to create the mould. While formwork is a broader term used to describe a variety of mould and pouring methods, shuttering refers specifically to the use of a special grade timber or plywood to form the mould.

Formwork Uses

Formwork is used in a wide variety of projects for various reasons. Some project managers like to use formwork to keep project costs low. Shuttering is generally used when labour costs are lower than the cost of reusable shuttering materials. Other reasons for using formwork include fast turnaround time; using shuttering allows a large amount of concrete to be poured at once and quickly, reducing multiple site deliveries, site movements and speeding up the project completion in general. Other reasons for using formwork are to create bespoke and custom concrete structures. Modern types of formwork such as fibreglass reinforced plastic and steel also mean a stronger, safer structure can be created without the need for cosmetic or structural adjustment.