Fundamentals of Concrete Formwork: Definition, Essentials, and Types

Concrete is one of the most common and pr materials used in almost all buildings, roads, and other construction projects. It is a mixture of water, portland cement, and aggregates such as sand, rock, or gravel.

But, have you ever wondered how a building got its shape out of concrete mixture? How does it become round, curved, or squared? Or, how does it obtain durability, strength, and resistance? If these questions came across your mind, you must check out the method called concrete forming.

To help you understand this construction method, let’s have an in-depth exploration of the fundamentals of concrete formworks.
Concrete Formworks
Concrete forms are solid barriers that temporarily hold wet concrete to form and obtain a particular shape. It allows the mixture to adequately set and keep its strength, giving durability to any structure.

To effectively support the weight and shape of wet concrete, formwork must:

● Be rigorous enough to avoid bowing under the concrete’s mass.
● Have properly sealed joints so that the wet concrete cannot leak through.
● Be strong enough to support and hold the concrete in place.
● Be properly leveled
● Be able to endure the components without warping.
● Have proper vertical and horizontal bracing and support such as stabilizers and poles.

Furthermore, with the correct construction and installation of concrete forms, you can ensure that your concrete building will have the shape you desired with optimal strength and durability.
Essentials of Concrete Forms

Formwork is significant when there are no structural components available to support the wet concrete and hold it to form the desired shape. Thus, it is necessary for the construction of reinforced concrete buildings and other structures such as foundations, columns, chimneys, bridges, towers, public buildings, etc.

Moreover, construction projects are three-dimensional. With that said, formwork concrete services such as horizontal and vertical formworks are essential in constructing any concrete structures.
Horizontal Concrete Forms
Horizontal concrete forms are significant for building concrete ceilings, floors, paths, and beams. This kind of formwork must be reinforced against horizontal and vertical loads using concrete form load-bearers and struts, braces, metal pegs, or a fixed connection to existing structures such as columns and walls.
Vertical Concrete Forms
On the other hand, vertical concrete forms are imperative for constructing concrete walls, foundations, columns, stairs, and pillars. This formwork backs up the lateral pressure of the concrete using tie rods or tie wires. Additionally, a vertical concrete form must be bolted or anchored to the floor to avoid lifting from the buoyant forces of the concrete.
Different Types of Concrete Forms Used in Concrete Casting

Contractors and builders use concrete forms as essential tools to help finish their projects on time or even sooner. Additionally, concrete forming Toronto and in other large cities offers a reliable way to mold and construct the essential components of buildings such as floors and roofs.

There are various types of concrete forms used in casting any construction projects. Nevertheless, selecting the most appropriate type usually depends on the specifications of the design. With that, here are some of the types of concrete forms available in the construction industry today.
Wooden Forms for Concrete Slabs
The wooden form is the basic and the most common type of concrete structure. A lot of construction sites and businesses use this type of formwork because it is economical and budget-friendly.

This formwork comprises of wooden boards—commonly plywood— which is screwed or nailed together to create a desired mold or shape. Then, to properly slope the wooden form based on the requirement, unique leveling devices, including string lines, hand levels, and laser levels, are used.

In addition to this, contractors are using additional boards to secure the areas where one board collides against another. Moreover, if there’s a need for rounded edges and free-forms, slimmer and thinner cross-section boards are much more ideal to use.

However, wooden concrete forms are less than ideal for large construction because of its tendency to shrink, warp, and swell.
Concrete Wall Forms
Concrete wall forms are pre-manufactured forming systems that are usually used to shape piers, foundations, and large-area walls. These systems are typically built with engineering wood and reinforced with a metal frame or consist of a complete steel body.

Additionally, these pre-manufactured wall systems—also known as gang forming systems—are designed to connect and assemble a uniform structure using latches or pins. On the other hand, ties are also necessary in these types of formwork to hold the reinforcement in place when pouring the wet concrete.

Concrete wall formworks come in various shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, some producers can create customized size wall forms according to the required dimensions of a construction project.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)
Insulated concrete forms comprises of hollow foam blocks that are fixed together to form the desired shape of exterior walls. Furthermore, these formworks are built-up with steel rebar prior to pouring the wet concrete.

The popularity of ICFs has drastically increased because of the combination of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)—which is one of the finest insulating materials—and steel-reinforced concrete—which is the most substantial structural element.

Ultimately, the wall with insulated concrete forms is an excellent blend of durability coupled with efficiency and exceptional comfort. ICF walls are known to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and even wildfire.
Foam and Decorative Formworks
This type of formwork follows an unconventional and non-traditional concrete forming technique. This method is used to develop inverted forms in which the concrete is poured upside down to obtain the desired texture finish.

Formworks like decorative concrete foams are usually made of components such as acrylic glass, melamine, laminated board, or screw attached to a huge board. Moreover, the interior of this concrete forming system has special inserts that provide an artistic look and decorative edging.
Wrap Up
Indeed, concrete forming is an essential step in constructing any concrete structures. It plays a significant role in obtaining the desired shape, strength, and durability of a building.

Moreover, in today’s time, formworks are not only used to cast wet concrete but also to provide insulation and decorative edging. With that said, the types of concrete forms above might help you choose the most appropriate formworks for your construction project—whether you opt for the most economical model, follows a non-traditional method, or the one which offers comfort and efficiency.

Strengthening Foundations: Methods and Benefits of Underpinning in Construction

What could you possibly do if your newly built home or business structure has a failure in footings or foundations? Or your hundred-year-old ancestral house is showing signs of moisture seepage, extensive cracking and other signs of deterioration? If you don’t have a solution in mind, check out the construction process called underpinning.

Underpinning is a process of strengthening the footings of an existing home and any other infrastructure. Besides that, it is also one of the most common methods used in basement lowering. This procedure includes installation of temporary or permanent reinforcement to an existing foundation to add more depth and bearing capacity.  

With that said, underpinning is necessary if the foundation of your home has become damaged or if you want to add more storeys to your business building. To take a more in-depth discussion about this construction process, let’s discover the different methods of underpinning and its benefits in the structural safety of houses and commercial buildings.

Underpinning Methods Used For Strengthening Foundation

Home and property owners have to keep an eye on the possible upgrades they can apply to their structures. With that said, underpinning is one of the techniques they can use not just to upgrade the aesthetics of their houses but also to enhance the structural safety of their buildings.

Now, let’s talk about the different methods of underpinning that you should consider.

Mass Concrete Underpinning

Mass concrete underpinning or also called pit method is the traditional technique of underpinning. This approach involves extending the existing foundation until it reaches a stable stratum. Then, when you reach the appropriate strata, filling the excavated area with the concrete is the next step and let it set for curing before doing another excavation. 

On top of this, the mass concrete method is economical and works well for a shallow foundation. But then, if you have more complicated structural issues, you should consider applying other methods to underpin your foundation.

Pier and Beam Underpinning

The implementation of the pier and beam underpinning method happened after the second world war. This technique became popular because the traditional way of underpinning couldn’t work correctly for a significant depth of foundation.

In this technique, strengthened concrete beams are set to move the load to mass concrete piers. The depth and size of the beams are according to the applied loads and ground conditions. Moreover, pier and beam underpinning are doable for most ground conditions, and it’s cost-effective for depth shallower than 6 meters. 

Underpinning by Cantilever Needle Beam

Cantilever needle beam method can be used for underpinning if the footings of an existing structure need to be extended only on one side and the building possesses a stronger interior column. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.


  1. One side access only
  2. Faster than the traditional method
  3. High load-carrying capability


  1. Limitation of access restricts the application of needle beams
  2. When the existing footings are deep, digging becomes uneconomical

Piled Raft Method for Underpinning

Piled raft underpinning should be used when the existing foundations are too deep, or the soil is too hard that small equipment can’t be able to dig up to the required depth. This technique involves:

  • Placing of piles at planned locations by loading conditions
  • Adding reinforced needle beams to hold the load of the wall when pockets blow foundations are broken.
  • Pouring concrete in the structure when a ring beam is built.

Moreover, here are some of the benefits of Piled Raft Method for underpinning:

  • Economical with depths more than 1.5 meters
  • External access is not needed
  • Offers lateral and traverse ties throughout the structure
  • Reduces disruption to drainage systems

Pre-test Technique of Underpinning

Pre-test method of underpinning is used for strip or pad foundations and applicable for buildings with 5 to 10 storeys. Nevertheless, this technique is not suitable for a raft foundation, and you can expect less noise and disruptions in the entire process.

Benefits of Underpinning in Homes and Other Establishments

Pre-test method of underpinning is used for strip or pad foundations and applicable for buildings with 5 to 10 storeys. Nevertheless, this technique is not suitable for a raft foundation, and you can expect less noise and disruptions in the entire process.

Benefits of Underpinning in Homes and Other Establishments

Underpinning, by definition, is a process of strengthening the foundation of a structure. Nonetheless, this construction process is more than that. Thus, after discussing the different methods of underpinning, let’s move to the benefits and advantages of underpinned foundation to homes and other properties. 

Opens Up Hidden Mechanics of the Building

The process of underpinning gives way to open up the mechanics of any buildings and make them accessible for inspection, repairs, and renovations. On top of this—since underpinning is usually done in older homes and any other buildings—outdated electrical, insulation, and plumbing system can be replaced with modern technologies.

Stabilize Building’s Structural Integrity

When the foundation of the house or commercial building moves and shifts substantially— to the point that it can no longer support the structure—basement underpinning is necessary. It works wonders if your home’s foundation is damaged and structurally unsafe.

One of the objectives of strengthening the foundation in large cities such as underpinning Toronto & basement lowering Toronto is to ensure that the stability of every structure is safe for everyone.

Also, here are the early warning signs that will tell you to underpin the foundation of your home or any other buildings:

  • Structural cracks
  • The difference in the alignment of doors and windows
  • Sinking, sagging, bulging or any other changes in the shape of the walls.

Moreover, if the signs above are already visible, professional assessment and design are needed so that underpinning can be promptly done before further damages arise. After all, it is good to know that underpinned foundation walls can stabilize a structure for its lifetime.  

Add More Living Spaces

Creating additional living space is another benefit you’ll get if you consider underpinning the foundation of your home. This construction process will let you transform your basement into a playroom for kids, entertainment area, or an extra bedroom for your guests.

Once you finish a basement underpinning, you can get the structural security you need, and you can remove all the unnecessary walls in the area. With that, new spaces will be available for renovation and improvements. Eventually, the room that was once used as a utility space or storage area will turn into a new room for the entire family.

Higher Demand for the Property

The most prominent benefit that comes with underpinning is the value that you can add to your home. Besides that, you will definitely find a lot of takers if you were to put it on sale.

In fact, businessmen and investors in the world of real estate are likely to invest in homes and any other infrastructures that are guaranteed to have enhanced structural integrity and ensures safety.