Scaffold offer advantages over ladder-jack assemblies. This story shows you how to assemble scaffolding.
Framed scaffolds or pipe scaffolds offer several advantages over ladder-jack assemblies. They provide a wider platform working surface, can be moved without disassembly, and feature guardrails to keep you from falling.
Assembly is more time-consuming, however, and they come with a bigger price tag at the rental outlet.
Their main components consist of frames and crossbraces that stack to make taller units. The most common frame section is 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall with crossbraces 7 or 10 feet long. Other sizes are available.
In addition to base plates and guardrails, you should rent adjusting screws for easy leveling on uneven ground, locking casters to keep the unit from moving, and three planks that provide the work floor of the assembly. When you are computing the height you need, figure you can reach work 4 to 6 feet above the scaffold planks. Get sections tall enough to bring you to the height of the wall with two stacked units. Scaffolds higher than two sections can become unstable.
Before you assemble your scaffolding sections, organize all the parts in one place. Then lay two end frames on the ground near the area you intend to paint. Place the ends facing each other, their ladders on the same side, and their bases about 7 feet apart (or at the final width of your crossbraces). Raise the leg of one frame and insert the long end of the adjustable screw bar into the leg. Then insert the remaining bars into the remaining legs.
Install the baseplates or casters now so you don't have to lift the assembled scaffolding later to put them in. Different scaffold models may have different methods for this assembly, but most have an open tube that slides over the base of the adjustable screw bar. Secure all baseplates or casters with pigtails, toggle pins, or the locking accessory supplied with the scaffolding. Once you slip the mechanisms into the holes, lock them in place.
Raise one end frame, expand one crossbrace, and slip the holes in the crossbrace arms over the pins on the frame. Lock the pins and let the crossbrace support this frame while you raise the second frame. Raise the second frame and slip the opposite ends of the crossbrace over the pins and lock them. Repeat the process by assembling the other crossbrace and locking the pins.
Grasp a scaffold plank in the middle, hoist it overhead and at an angle, and slide it on the top bar until its upper end is beyond the bar. Level the plank and position it so the hooks will engage the bars on both end frames. Then lower the plank until the hooks are on the bars. Secure the plank with the swivel locks. Repeat until you have installed all the planks.
Carry the guardrail parts to the platform using the ladder side of a frame. Slide the guardrail posts down over the corner posts of each frame and secure them with a pigtail, toggle pin, or bolt, as provided with your scaffold model. Install top and bottom rails between the posts.
Set up a workstation on your scaffold platforms either by carrying needed items up the ladder with you or by putting the items in a large bucket and hauling them up with a rope. Having all the items you need readily at hand before you start will cut your prep and painting time by a surprising amount. It's not just the painting that will go faster. Such major repairs as tuckpointing brick walls and removing large sections of paint from wood siding are much easier from a scaffold than from a ladder.
Avoid working on scaffolds around electrical power lines. If power lines are present near your work area or in the path of your workflow, pay close attention and keep an eye overhead when moving the scaffolding. Don't assume the scaffolding will always move on the level. Variations in the ground surface can cause the scaffold to tip, bringing the metal frame into contact with power lines that are higher than the scaffold. If a framed scaffold assembly simply won't let you paint without danger of electrocution, you may be able to use ladder jacks to get you close to the house but away from the lines. Otherwise, individual fiberglass ladders will make your work slower but keep you safe.