The two most common materials for wheelbarrows are metal and plastic with steel being the most common metal and plastic frequently referred to as ‘poly.’ Poly is simply short for polymer.
When it comes to the right material for your wheelbarrow, there is often a certain amount of confusion. Some people may lean more towards a poly wheelbarrow as a way of avoiding rust whereas others are more likely to opt for a steel wheelbarrow because they are under the impression that plastic is not as durable.
Both of these are fair points, but choosing a wheelbarrow material really ought to come down to more than just personal preference.
One of the key factors to think about is what they wheelbarrow will be used for and in this article, we are going to be exploring what’s better, steel or poly wheelbarrows?
Steel vs Poly - What’s Best?
As we mentioned, the intended use of the wheelbarrow will play a huge part in the choice of material and truth be told, there are pros and cons to each.
One of the main points of concern with a steel wheelbarrow is that it may become rusty, but the good news is that modern metal wheelbarrows are generally rustproof thanks to galvanising, making them less of a risk than you might believe them to be.
In comparison, your average plastic wheelbarrow won’t ever stand a chance of rusting, however, this material can become weakened over time so will eventually need to be replaced. That being said, some of the better quality poly wheelbarrows are much more durable than their older, less modern counterparts.
The Poly Wheelbarrow
One of the best things about poly, or plastic wheelbarrows is that they are extremely lightweight, so if you struggle with lifting heavy items, it may be a better option.
However, due to their lightweight design, there are often used for transporting much lighter loads, for example, plant cuttings, mulch or even for carrying your tools around the garden.
Thanks to their lightweight design, poly wheelbarrows are a lot easier to move around, especially those with only one wheel. For the most part, these are ideal for use in a small garden or for general domestic use.
If you’re using a good quality poly wheelbarrow, it will stand the test of time provided that it is not regularly overloaded. Another way to ensure the best lifespan for a plastic wheelbarrow is to store it correctly.
Plastic can weaken if left exposed to the elements – for example, extremely hot temperatures or prolonged periods of time in icy or snowy conditions, and we don’t want to remind you what might happen if the plastic is rapidly exposed from one extreme to another.
Storing your plastic wheelbarrow in an outbuilding or shed or simply covering it with a tarp can prolong its life and durability.
The Steel Wheelbarrow
Due to its stronger design, the steel wheelbarrow is better for carrying heavy loads such as rocks, stones and timber. Their sturdy frame and tough tub mean that no matter how heavy the load, they won’t buckle or warp under the pressure. For this reason, the steel wheelbarrow is the obvious choice for heavy-duty jobs and construction work.
Additionally, a steel wheelbarrow will not fall victim to extreme temperatures and thanks to the galvanising process that many of these types of barrow undergo, they are nowhere near as prone to rust as one might first imagine. That being said, there is a limit so correct storage will ensure a long and happy life for your gardening equipment.
The traditional wheelbarrow was usually made from steel but in days gone by, they may not have been treated to prevent rust and wear.
One of the major drawbacks of the steel wheelbarrow is that they do not feature the lightweight design of their plastic relatives and so they may not be as useful for those who have strength issues or problems with mobility.
So, What’s Better, Steel Or Poly Wheelbarrows?
Whilst both designs have their pros and cons, the traditional steel wheelbarrow comes out on top, but only by an inch. This type of wheelbarrow is much more durable and can handle a lot more than their plastic counterparts.
That being said, since they are heavier when empty, you must be able to comfortably manoeuver the wheelbarrow without causing physical strain or injury. Steel wheelbarrows from the days of old may have been prone to rust, but the modern-day versions are often treated to prevent this.
The plastic wheelbarrow, whilst it will have a good lifespan if looked after, will not last anywhere near as long with some galvanised steel wheelbarrows being able to last for up to 100 years – imagine passing that down to your heirs!
The Best Steel Wheelbarrows
There are many excellent steel wheelbarrows on the market and choosing the right one can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But, fear not, we have done the hard work for you – here are some of the best steel wheelbarrows online today.
Swipe the table!
|Cargo volume||Load tub material||Weight limit||Tyres||Dimension|
|Gr8 Garden Wheelbarrow||65 liter||Galvanised Steel||80kg||Pneumatic||130 x 60 x 60 cm|
|Neo® 65L Wheelbarrow||65 liter||Galvanised Steel||100kg||Pneumatic||118 x 61 x 66 cm|
|Altrad Fort F037990||90 liter||Galvanised Steel||Unspecified||Pneumatic||90 x 60 x 31 cm|
The Gr8 Garden Heavy Duty Wheelbarrow
It’s relatively compact size won’t take up every bit of available storage space but it still packs a punch where load capacity is concerned. The wheelbarrow is able to transport a maximum of 80kg or 65 litres.
It comes with a single, pneumatic tyre that makes moving the wheelbarrow around your outdoor space effortless and unloading is a breeze. One of the most notable features of the wheelbarrow is that is is made from galvanised steel, which as we have learned, is perfect for giving you many years of wheelbarrow use.
What’s more, its empty weight is just 7kg, meaning that, even if you struggle moving heavy items, this is a steel wheelbarrow that won’t cause you any problems.
If you want a wheelbarrow that is functional but also looks the part then you will likely be impressed with the Neo wheelbarrow which comes with a striking flash of neon green on the handles and wheel.
And if you’re looking for functionality, you can’t go far wrong since this strong steel wheelbarrow features a hefty 65-litre tub that can handle loads as heavy as 100kg. Of course, the steel design is rustproof and the frame is super strong.
The wheelbarrow boasts a single, strong pneumatic tyre that will bear the load and make steering the equipment easy and manageable. What’s more, the super-soft handles make using this wheelbarrow a delight thanks to their comfortable grip.
Altrad Fort F037990
If you are looking for a steel wheelbarrow that can handle heavy loads in a deep tub then look no further, the Altrad Fort is one of the deepest wheelbarrows we could find and is ideal for those heavy-duty jobs with a lot of materials to shift.
Made from galvanised steel, you can be confident that it will stand the test of time and with its attractive yellow accents, it also makes for a nice looking piece of equipment.
The tubular steel frame is lightweight and durable and will not buckle under the weight of heavy rocks, soil or wood, making this a super versatile option.
The wheelbarrow has a 90-litre capacity and when unloaded weighs in at just 12kg, making it ideal for those who have difficulty lifting a heavier piece of equipment. The tipping bracket makes unloading easy and helps to avoid unwanted spillages.
The Best Poly Wheelbarrows
Whilst steel wheelbarrows are the better choice in most cases, plastic wheelbarrows certainly do play an important role in the garden. For example, if you have strength or mobility issues they are the perfect companion. They are also ideal for light use, perhaps for the avid hobby gardener.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the very best poly wheelbarrows that are currently on the market.
Swipe the table!
|Cargo volume||Load tub material||Weight limit||Tyres||Dimension|
|FORT KARRE POLY MULDE||85 liter||Poly (Plastic)||Unspecified||Pneumatic||Unspecified|
|Draper Garden Tipper Cart||75 liter||Poly (Plastic)||200kg||Pneumatic||96 x 51 x 22 cm|
|Lasher EcoBarrow||70 liter||Poly (Plastic)||Unspecified||Pneumatic||145 x 60 x 67 cm|
Forte Carre Poly Mulde
One of the most notable features on this tool is that it has the option to move the wheel to one of two locations, giving you the opportunity to improve balance and alter the wheelbarrow to a way that suits how you move it.
When fully unloaded, the Fort Karre wheelbarrow weights a tiny 10kg making this the obvious choice for those who do not want or cannot handle a heavier piece of equipment.
Whilst the tub is made from plastic, the tubular steel frame reinforces the wheelbarrow to ensure that it is always able to reach its maximum load capacity without buckling under the strain.
Draper Garden Tipper Cart
Whilst traditional wheelbarrow designs usually feature one wheel, there are many that make use of more and the Draper garden tipper cart is a prime example of this. Sitting on four wheels, this is the ideal piece of equipment for use in flat gardens where slightly heavier loads are required.
Thanks to the additional support and stability of the four wheels, this plastic tub is able to withstand weights of up to 200kg – we think that’s pretty impressive.
Unloading is simpler than ever with a simple tipping mechanism that effortlessly dumps the load wherever you need it to and the strong steel frame gives added strength and stability during unloading, transporting and whilst static.
The weight of the tipper cart when unloaded is just over 17kg, and whilst this is heavier than some of the other poly models, its ability to shift heavier loads would explain this.
We couldn’t make a list of the best poly wheelbarrows without including this little beauty. If the stunning orange design isn’t enough to capture your attention then the innovation behind this piece fo equipment surely will be.
The tub is made from a poly and had a 70-litre capacity – it even comes with a five-year guarantee, so when we said that poly wheelbarrows didn’t last as long, this one may be ane exception to this rule.
The frame is made from nylon, something that gives this wheelbarrow the edge where being lightweight is concerned. If you need something that isn’t going to put a strain on your back, then this is definitely worth considering. Did we mention that this one has even won awards for its design?
The ergonomic handle makes manoeuvering this an absolute pleasure and it couldn’t be more comfortable if it tried.
The wheelbarrow also features a single pneumatic tyre which makes tackling tight bends and corners a breeze and of course, makes unloading quick, easy and efficient.
Our Top Picks
With so much choice for both poly and steel wheelbarrows, it isn’t easy to determine the best but we would have to say that the Lasher Ecobarrow just tips the scales where poly wheelbarrows are concerned with its super lightweight design and decent capacity, all the while being extremely durable.
The Altrad Fort is at the tops of its game when we think about steel wheelbarrows thanks to its super deep tub, hefty load capacity and excellent durability. This is certainly one for those big jobs where reliability and toughness are non-negotiable.
The traditional wheelbarrow was always made from steel, but in this modern-day, there are more and more options for materials, sizes and shapes.
When it comes to material, there is the constant questions of what’s better, steel or poly wheelbarrows, and whilst both have their advantages, it is commonly accepted that a steel wheelbarrow is the better option – in most cases. They are durable, strong and are able to carry much heavier and more versatile loads.
For people who struggle with lifting heavier weights, a steel wheelbarrow may be too much of a strain so a plastic one might be more suitable. Additionally, people who don’t need to shift heavy loads may benefit from a plastic wheelbarrow.
The most important point to consider when deciding on a material for your wheelbarrow is what you are going to be using it for and how long you will need it to last.