Headbloom Blog

Catwalks and Scaffolds
A Vocabulary Lesson for Workers

If you work in the construction industry or around large manufacturing plants, you have heard the expressions catwalk and scaffold. Both are structural devices inside and outside of buildings.

They differ in that a catwalk is a permanent structure and a scaffold is temporary. A second difference is that a catwalk is used primarily as a walkway (for brief observations or passing through) while a scaffold is employed for longer-term access (for focused, stationary work like painting, repairs, or installation of new equipment). Catwalks are mostly built of metal. In Western countries, scaffold frames are built of metal; the platforms can be made of metal or wooden planks. In Asia, scaffolding frames are sometimes built of bamboo.

Grammar note:
A scaffold is a single structure and therefore a countable noun. (She built a scaffold to install the windows.)
Scaffolding, on the other hand, is grammatically uncountable and refers to a system of rails, platforms, and stairs or ladders. (The contractor ordered 200 feet of scaffolding for the project.)

Summary:
a catwalk = permanent elevated walkway
a scaffold (some scaffolding) = temporary structure to access elevated work spaces

Quiz:
Which images below are catwalks? ________
Which images below are scaffolds? ________

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Quiz answers:
(a.) and (c.) are catwalks. (b.) and (d.) are scaffolds.



Alan Headbloom