Difference Between Steel and Wooden Formworks
By Rachel Jones - June 3, 2023

In concrete structures, formwork is utilized as a “mold” into which concrete is poured. Formwork types differ in terms of materials and elements to be created. They can also be termed based on the structural elements used in their construction, such as walls, slabs, formworks for beams, pillars for beams and columns, etc. The two most popular materials for formwork are wood and steel.


Steel formwork for concrete is typically built to the modulus size. The concrete surface remains very smooth and lovely after it has been destroyed. The formwork can be installed before or after the reinforcement and is fitted before the steel bars, making it convenient and simple to position and install. It can visually monitor the concrete pouring process, lowering the possibility of porosity and honeycomb formations.

Wooden formwork is a more common method of shuttering that uses nine plywoods, mirror panel, and bamboo plywood. It is straightforward and generally used on special-shaped concrete components because it is easier to cut and make.

New construction site in downtown district

Getty Images/ Moment/ Sellwell

Steel vs. Wooden Formwork

Steel formwork has a low adsorption force and is simple to demold. Surfaces partially damaged can be restored on-site, and the surface can be flipped over for usage once one side has been worn. There are various rotation times, which makes thermal insulation treatment simple and helpful to the thermal insulation of concrete in the winter. However, it is heavy, difficult to work with, and loses heat. Steel’s very flat surface may also make finishing more challenging.

Wooden formwork is simple to manufacture and use. It is pretty light and inexpensive. However, it can only be reused 5 or 6 times (as opposed to 50 times for steel). Furthermore, too dry wood will absorb moisture from wet concrete, weakening the resulting concrete component. Wood with more than 20% moisture level may cause wet concrete to shrink and cup, resulting in open seams and grout leakage.

Comparison Chart
  1. Expensive and complicated to work with.
Inexpensive and easy to work with
  1. Highly reusable
Not nearly as reusable