Buying Guide

Buying Guide to Finding a Wheelbarrow

Any time you start to look at equipment and tools for yard or construction work, you have to take a tremendous number of factors and features into consideration. Wheelbarrows are no exception, and in fact can be much harder to shop for than other tools because of their unique and less technical nature.

If you’re in the market for a new wheelbarrow, whether it’s for hauling out debris for your contracting business or simply moving around bags of mulch in your own garden, then this guide is going to be your ultimate companion. Read on to learn about all the key features and components that make up the best wheelbarrows, and discover the secrets to finding the perfect model for your exact needs.


Determining the Purpose

The first thing you need to do to help you find the best wheelbarrow is to ask yourself this simple question: What are you going to use it for? The answer is going to dictate almost everything else about the wheelbarrow, including what features and specifications are going to be the best for you, because different tasks and jobs can call for drastically different wheelbarrows.

That means that you are going to need to tailor your purchase to your situation if you want the best results. For example, if you only plan on moving smaller objects a few times a year, then you could focus on a more budget-friendly model or one with a smaller bed. On the other hand, if you know that you’re going to be moving a lot of heavy objects, then you would want to look into contractor’s models or even a garden cart wheelbarrow. The key is to tailor the wheelbarrow to all of your exact needs.

Load Capacity

Once you have a good idea about the types of projects you’re going to be using your wheelbarrow for, the first specification you need to check out is the load capacity. This refers to the total amount of weight that the wheelbarrow can carry safely at any given time. As a general rule, you should always look for a load capacity that goes above the total amount of weight you plan to carry, so that you have a bit of wiggle room and can handle heavier items if you end up encountering them.

A higher load capacity also usually means that the wheelbarrow will be more expensive, since it takes a lot of special attention in the design and specific materials to support heavier weights. So if you’re trying to stick to a budget, remember that you don’t need to go too far over. A buffer of around 25 pounds is usually a safe bet, and anything over 100 to 200 pounds could be a little bit excessive.

Wheel Configuration

The standard wheel configuration for a wheelbarrow consists of a single wheel at the front end, under the bed, with two leg supports at the back end underneath the handles. These wheelbarrows require you to lift up on the handles so that the supports come up off the ground in order to push the wheelbarrow around. However, some of these models can be hard to control and may be more prone to tipping over with certain types of loads.

Another configuration that has become more common in recent years involves two wheels positioned at the back of the bed, directly underneath the handles. These models function more like push carts; they can still have a high load capacity while being easier for some people to maneuver, even though they present their own navigation issues. If you want a wheelbarrow that will be incredibly easy to control, look for a three wheel model, or consider a four-wheeled garden cart wheelbarrow.

Body Materials

Most wheelbarrows are going to be made of metal through and through, since that guarantees a certain level of strength and stability. However, a wheelbarrow with an all-metal body and frame can be heavier than models that use other materials in the bodies, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also remember that a steel body doesn’t guarantee the highest load capacity.

Some ultra heavy duty models will use a steel frame with a polyurethane bed for a mix of strength and portability. Wheelbarrows that use plastic of composites for the bed are going to have the lowest load capacities, but will also usually be the most affordable.


Bed Size and Shape

When it comes to the size and shape of the wheelbarrow’s bed, you’re almost always going to see a rectangular shape with rounded edges, which gives you the most flexibility in terms of what you can put inside of it. Some models may have a bigger width than length, but keep in mind that these may not have as much depth or as high a load capacity. Take some time to get rough measurements for the objects you plan to move, and you’ll be able to find a wheelbarrow with a big enough bed to handle it all.

Method of Operation

As I mentioned above, most wheelbarrows require you to lift up on the handles and then push the entire unit around, which can be difficult for anyone with strength issues. This is especially true when you’re working with very heavy objects, so you want to make sure that you choose a wheelbarrow that you can actually operate on your own. Some models allow you to push down on the handles to move the carts, or only require a pulling motion. So there are actually a lot of options out there for you to choose from.

Safety Features

Wheelbarrow safety has a lot to do with the construction of the frame, as that is where you’re most likely to experience complications and issues that could become a real risk factor. The wheelbarrow should always have a metal frame connecting the wheels for the highest level of support. While a crossbrace isn’t necessary, it can definitely increase the sturdiness of the wheelbarrow and prevent damage over time.

You should also make sure that the handles have some kind of protective covering on them, otherwise you will need to wear gloves while you grip them. Also, there should be no harsh or sharp edges around the rim of the bed, as this can harm you as well as whatever you are putting into the wheelbarrow.

Additional Functionality

Unlike a lot of other garden tools, wheelbarrows don’t typically come with a lot of additional features. However, there are some models that include a few extra touches that could be very helpful in certain circumstances. For example, a super heavy duty wheelbarrow might allow you to hook it up to a tractor and double as a mini trailer, whereas others might feature attachments to lift potted plants and similarly awkward-shaped items. Make sure you read the product listings for each wheelbarrow to identify any special features it offers, and decide if they are worth it for you.

Closing Considerations

When you take the time to really think about how you plan to use your wheelbarrow, you can create a pretty solid outline of the most important features to use as a checklist against every model you look at. Just remember that you might not be able to find a wheelbarrow that meets all of your needs right away, and that sometimes you can discover new requirements you hadn’t thought of; you should always remain open and flexible.

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