How to Scaffold for Painting

Small-scale scaffolding is available for the small-scale painter.
Small-scale scaffolding is available for the small-scale painter. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Setting up scaffolding for painting interior or exterior surfaces allows painters to work safely at dangerous heights. Scaffolding is a combination of structural steel frames braced together with cross braces. Wood planks go on top of the frames to create a platform on which workers can stand. Workers can keep painting tools and supplies on these planks to increase their productivity. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has specific safety requirements that paint contractors must adhere to when installing scaffolding. Fines and penalties can result if you don't meet these requirements.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Boards
  • Level
  • Scaffolding frames
  • Scaffolding screw jacks, 24 inches by 1 3/8 inches
  • Scaffolding crisscrossing braces
  • Scaffolding planks
  • Scaffolding frame connector pins
  • Scaffolding coupling pins
  • Scaffolding safety rail posts
  • Scaffolding safety rail cross braces

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Ensure the ground or floor where the scaffolding stands is as level as possible. Dig away uneven soil with a shovel. Lay a board down on the surfaces where you will erect the legs of the scaffolding.

Slide an adjusting screw jack into the hollow legs of each of the ground-level scaffold frames. These level the scaffolding when used on uneven ground.

Ask two helpers to lift two scaffold frames up on end. The frames should be feet-down. Adjust the screw jacks until the top bars of the frames are level. Hold a bubble leveler on the top bar to ensure the level.

Connect the two frames together with the crisscrossing braces. Slide the holes in the ends of the brace over the knobs on the outside pole of the two frames. The knobs have safety latches that you must straighten out and then lock back in place after you've attached the brace. There are two knobs on each side of each frame.

Connect the two frames together by attaching two crisscrossing braces to each side.

Lay scaffold planks, a minimum of five planks wide, across from frame top to frame top. All planks should extend over the ends of the frames by 6 to 18 inches.

Add additional scaffold frames by attaching another two cross braces to the sides of one of the previously placed frames. Straighten the safety lock on the knobs and slide the braces on. The braces will be sticking straight out into open space. Insert adjusting screw jacks into the legs of the new frame and hook the extending cross braces to the locking knobs.

Climb up the ends of the frames to reach the next level. Insert scaffold connecting pins into the upper tubes at the top sides of each scaffold frame.

Stand up on the planks and have two helpers hoist up another frame. Slide the bottom ends of the frame over the tops of the connecting pins and then insert the scaffolding coupling pins to lock the two frames together. Do this on both sides.

Install another frame on the tops of the other two ground level frames, then connect them all together with crisscrossing braces.

Install safety rails on the top level of the scaffolding. Connect upright posts onto the connecting pins of the lower frames, then attach cross bracing rails to these posts. Attach and couple the posts and braces just like the frames and crisscrossing braces.


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