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Builders trestles (Essential know how!)

  • By: Gareth
  • Time to read: 5 min.

What are builders trestles?

Builders trestles are used by trades people and DIY enthusiasts to carry out at height. Builders trestles are rigid steel stands along with scaffold boards on which materials or people can be placed so they can work at height. 

In this article, we will highlight some uses for builders trestles as well as providing a list of safety tips for those using them.

The strength of builders trestles comes from their design which makes them stronger than most other building supports or access systems such as ladders.

This is because there is no twisting action exerted on any one component, even if they were placed on their side they would not collapse.

Builders trestles are generally used as a quick and easy way to support heavy objects while builders work on them. 

They are made of strong materials, usually steel, which can hold the weight of many different types of materials so that builders do not have to strain themselves while working at height.

They also come in an array of heights so that builders can choose the height at which they need to use the builders trestle, depending on whatever it is they are building or fixing.

This means they are versatile and can be used in many different situations in which builders may need to lift or hold things up higher. They really are a regularly used item by many builders and DIY buffs.

Builders trestles usually have a platform which consists of scaffold boards or Youngman boards. You can further read our article on Youngman boards here.

How wide are trestles?

Builders trestles are usually made to take 4 scaffold boards. A scaffold board is 225mm wide so the trestles will be at least 900mm wide to accept the boards.

They will end up being a little wider overall perhaps with the stabilising feet and the upturned lugs on the top supporting rail to prevent the scaffold boards from sliding off.

How much weight can a builders trestle hold?

Builders trestles are usually made from tubular steel so are quite strong. It’s always very important however to follow the manufacturers guidelines as the trestles would of been manufactured to BS1139:PART 4:1982 (1990).

As a guideline, the SWL (Safe Working Load) will approximately be 460Kg max load when the trestles are placed at 1.2m centres. This can be increased by introducing more trestles and reducing the distance between the centres.

What height are builders trestles?

Builders trestles mostly come in an adjustable height form that consists of telescopic tubing with holes for a steel pin. This adjusts the height in increments so you can get the perfect level.

Heights range from approximately 0.48m to 1.83m. There are larger heights that are achievable but you really need to introduce a guard rail system at larger heights.

What size are trestles?

Builders trestles come in 4 standard sizes. These are commonly known as Size 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Size 1 is the smallest and when collapsed will have a working height of 0.48m. This can increase to its fully pinned being of 0.84m.

Size 2 is the next one up. When collapsed, it will have a working height of 0.78m and increase to to about 1.37m.

Size 3 is the next size up again. When collapsed, it will have a working height of 1.06m and fully extended a working height of 1.83m.

You can get a size 4 but it’s recommended that this gets used with a proprietary handrail system or a tower scaffold is used.

You can read our article on tower scaffolds here.

Scaffold trestles


In a construction site situation, trestles can be used if a risk assessment determines that the risk of a person falling and injuring themselves is low. The work at hand would need to be of a short duration also.

Guard rails and toe boards need to be introduced to satisfy the Work at Height Regulations.

In reality, and in a domestic situation, these regulations are often ignored but being aware of them could avoid an injury.

With regards to setting your trestles up, the manufacturers guidelines are a good place to start. These guidelines will give you the maximum loadings and the distances to set out the trestles.

Some of these guidelines are seen as good practice like the ones below:

  • Ensure you set the trestles up on a level and firm base.
  • Only use one working platform, i.e. do not use a hop up or ladder on the platform.
  • Ensure you only use proper scaffold boards on equal length and thickness.
  • Use a safe means of access like a tied off ladder.
  • When extending a trestle, ensure you use the supplied pin. Do not use anything that hasn’t been tested.
  • Always visually inspect the boards and trestles before use.

Trestles for tables

Builders trestles are very often only used to make a working table. This can be for cutting or assembling items at waist height instead of on the floor. 

On my site for example, I have a plumber who uses trestles and scaffold boards to fabricate and cut lead for roofs and chimneys.

Builders trestle and scaffold board suggestions

Mighty Builders Trestles

What we like:

Amazon Choice

Available in sizes 1 to 4

690Kg Safe Working Load

Very strong and robust

What could be better:

Hard to find any drawbacks

These trestles from The Mighty Store are great quality. The increased Safe Working Load as tested by Lloyds British confirms that.

They come in the standard variations of sizes 1 to 4. Size 1 covers 0.58m to 0.81m, size 2 covers 0.77m to 1.22m, size 3 covers 1.04m to 1.77m and the biggest is size 4 which covers 1.32m to 2.22m.

All trestles come with a painted finish and are definitely not flimsy. They are very strong and robust and if looked after, will last a long time.

Builders trestle scaffold boards

What we like:

BS2482 Graded timber

Metal protected ends

PEFC compliant Timber

What could be better:

Difficult to find any drawbacks

Scaffold boards are one of the most important components when used for constructing a working platform, especially on trestles.

These scaffold boards are manufactured from sawn and sustainable timber which is graded for quality.

With metal bands fitted to the ends, this helps prevent the boards from splitting. They are the standard 225mm wide so the trestles will fit 4 of these boards perfectly.