A range of materials can be used for form faces and for their immediate support. Plywood is commonly used for form faces. Faced plywoods, with a surface film or overlay, are used where good quality surface finishes are required. Very smooth finishes are possible. The strength and robustness of steel makes it ideal for formwork that is to be extensively re-used, e.g. in precast work. Steel can be fabricated into complex form shapes.
Aluminium can be used for form faces provided it has some form of coating or protection, to avoid any chemical reaction between aluminium and wet concrete. Expanded metal is a useful material for construction joint formwork. Glass reinforced plastics and other plastics can be used as a form face material. They can produce a good finish and can be formed or moulded into complex shapes.
Plastic pipes have been used for column formwork. Formwork for small precast items can be made of plastic. Moulded rubber liners can be used in formwork to produce sculptured surfaces. They can also be used for small precast concrete items, e.g. garden ornaments. Cardboard tubes, usually lined internally with a plastic film, are available for circular columns.