A wheelbarrow probably isn’t the most luxurious garden tool you’ll ever buy, but you still need to choose a product that meets your gardening needs.
Often, we only realize the need for these essential tools when there’s some soil or manure to move.
Manufactured Home Wheelbarrow Options: Twelve Must Have Shopping Factors
Here are the factors to consider when buying one:
1. Material of Construction
Vintage wood wheelbarrows are still a thing in some places – you won’t miss them if you give it an exhaustive search.
However, most of the products you will find in your local hardware store are either made from steel or heavy-duty plastic.
Steel wheelbarrows are the most common of the two types and can support and move heavier loads compared to plastic wheelbarrows.
Besides their impressive strength, they normally outlast their plastic counterparts.
The biggest setback with steel wheelbarrows, just as it’s the case with anything else made from steel, is their tendency to accumulate rust in moist conditions.
As such, don’t go for this material if you don’t have a secure and dry shed somewhere in your garden to keep it away from moisture.
You don’t want to forget it in the dew overnight either.
You will also be required to wash and wipe your steel wheelbarrow dry after every gardening job to reduce the likelihood of rusting and corrosion.
If you aren’t ready to deliver this care, go for plastic alternatives instead.
Plastic wheelbarrows are lightweight compared to steel options, meaning they are easier on your arms and back.
They are easier on your purse as well as they are more affordable than the former.
If you are looking for a hardy product that can handle all the punishing labor in your garden, don’t think plastic – go for the steel alternatives instead.
However, plastic never rusts and can be abandoned outdoors overnight and even longer without worry.
However, since plastic isn’t truly heavy-duty like steel, there is going to be a limit on the size of load you can carry with this material.
Extreme cold can crack the plastic as well, so you will need to be careful never to leave the wheelbarrow outside in the winter.
Special Case – Canvas
There’s actually a tiny less-known group – the “foldable” canvas models, like this product from Allsop.
While these designs are handier for many gardeners with limited storage space at home, they are not designed for heavy loads and strenuous garden work.
2. Type of Handle
Wheelbarrows typically come with 3 types of handles –
- traditional straight
- and closed handles.
Traditional straight handles are the best when it comes to easy maneuverability.
They also give the user an easier time in tilting, dumping, and flipping maneuvers.
However, they demand great strength from the hands (unless you are heavily built, stay clear from such barrows).
Single-bar and closed handles, on another hand, are more superior when it comes to ergonomics.
While single bar wheelbarrows can be handled comfortably by an adult user of almost any size, the conventional 2-handle design is a bit hard to manage especially for users with narrow shoulders.
3. Number of Wheels – 1 or 2 Wheels?
Most of the wheelbarrows supplied every year comes with a single wheel fixed in the middle and front of the carrier.
The wheel and the two support structures at the rear forms a tripod which makes it easy to maneuver the unit and dump the load.
However, this design demands a lot of strength from the user in situations where the wheelbarrow must be kept in control with a heavy load.
Some models come with 2 wheels in front of the carrier.
These are the most stable wheelbarrows you could choose especially if you are going to deal with heavy or unbalanced loads.
However, they are the hardest to maneuver compared to single-wheel options. Also, 2-wheel barrows don’t perform well on hilly terrains.
4. Type of Wheels – Pneumatic vs. Non-pneumatic
Consider the type of tire.
Between non-pneumatic and pneumatic tires, which type do you think would be perfect for your needs?
Pneumatic wheelbarrow tires are very much like those found on your bike or car.
They are equipped with a built-in tube that should be pumped with air to inflate the tire.
Air is one of the best shock absorbers.
As such, a product with pneumatic tires feels smoother to ride and doesn’t need spring-based or any other type of shock absorbers.
While they are easy to manage, these tires are also susceptible to rough terrains and can pop.
Furthermore, the user has to keep a sharp eye on the air pressure of the tire.
Badly managed tires or those that have been ignored for so long will flatten eventually.
Overinflating increases the likelihood of popping. The ride may not be smooth if the tire is filled with excess air.
But, a ride with these tires doesn’t feel as smooth as with pneumatic tires.
There’s a compromise between these two – semi-pneumatic tires!
They are rubber tires with small built-in air pockets.
This design gives them excellent shock absorber properties and removes the need for inflation.
The ball bearing factor
It doesn’t end with the type of the wheel but the quality of the ball bearing on it.
The quality of the ball bearing can affect the effectiveness of the wheels quite immensely.
In fact, the ball bearing has a big say on the size of weight your barrow can carry comfortably and the speed at which it can move with it.
Also, the smoothness with which the tires roll on the ground can be improved by choosing the highest quality bearing you could find.
There’s no trick here – just choose a high-quality, hardy, industrial-grade bearing. It will last longer and guarantee seamless operations.
5. Type of Wheelbarrow – Purpose
There are actually 6 types of wheelbarrows in terms of function or purpose.
What do you intend the barrow for?
Your choices could be limited to these options:
This is the classic wheelbarrow and one with one- or two-wheels when a tub in the middle.
They are mainly bought for the garden.
Handy to maneuver, they normally come with a bunch of features useful for your small DIY jobs.
A close cousin of the above garden barrow but more specialized.
They are generally equipped with a single heavy-duty wheel to support heavier loads.
Their feet are also a bit more stable and positioned in such a way that the unit’s bed sits horizontally when the rest of the body is still.
They are ideal for ‘live loads’ like liquids.
Instead of the traditional tank-like body, they are equipped with a bed of strong metal bars that open at the front.
They are ideal for transporting bulky items like food bags, hay, and straw.
For that reason, they are a darling of utility farmers.
A pal of DIYers who like to carry a big part of their workshop with them to the site of work.
Canteen wheelbarrows come with a ‘canteen’ firmly welded to a chassis.
They let you leave your equipment tied on the barrow with zero risks of losing them.
Whether you are physically unable to deliver the effort required to move a loaded wheelbarrow demand or you are after a technologically advanced transporter, motorized units are the epitome of comfort at work.
You don’t need to drive these products just add the load and drive!
They are mostly available on 4 wheels or more hardy caterpillar tracks.
They are beasts at work, allowing you to transport insane loads as heavy as 700 lbs. on almost any kind of terrain!
This isn’t a common feature in wheelbarrows but you might need it.
Some wheelbarrows come with an extra storage rack somewhere between the handles although many models are increasingly starting to feature them on the side of the tub.
These extra storage areas are useful for what the name suggests – providing additional storage places for oddly-shaped items, mulch bags, or garden tools.
7. Resistance to Rust
We started by mentioning how vulnerable steel wheelbarrows are to rusting.
If you want a steel product so bad, then consider its resistance to rusting.
Unless you plan to use it inside a building (not likely!), you will want it to come with some sort of protection against rusting, like a thick layer of paint.
If you go for one with a tub made from plastic, your only worry would be extreme sun and the winter cold.
You can still acquire a metallic product, paint it with your favorite color all by yourself, and give it the protection it needs – no major difference.
Just as you would with any pricey item, consider the warranty on the wheelbarrow of your liking.
Whenever you invest your money in any gardening equipment, more so one that is a bit costlier, it is always wise to check its warranty.
The length of the warranty and what it covers may vary between brands.
That’s why you will need to check exactly who is selling the product, what the warranty covers, and what it doesn’t.
A better warranty (should be reasonably long and/or cover multiple aspects of the product) makes you trust the brand.
For instance, a company won’t offer a great warranty if they know their wheelbarrows are low-quality or straight mediocre.
Consider the cost of the product of your liking. How much money are you willing to pay for a wheelbarrow?
Does the product have all the features you want at what you are willing to pay?
The cheapest wheelbarrows out there are typically plastic, often with shallow tubs. One such product can cost as low as $40.
Be careful though – just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you are really saving money.
It is hard to find a cheap wheelbarrow that’s quality at the same time, meaning you should be willing to spend more money if you want a better and long-lasting product.
It will depend on the purpose and tasks.
A product designed for light gardening work won’t cost much.
But for gardening purists or those working on a construction site, paying more money for a more durable and hardy steel model is worth it.
Such products normally come with a price tag anywhere between $70 – 100 for the most basic features, but it’s not uncommon to find one priced as highly as $200.
10. Must-have Features
Of course, there are certain features you think would make your work easier, and you are determined to acquire a product that has them.
However, if you intend the wheelbarrow for a few lightweight tasks, like moving garden wastes or flowers, then you won’t be choosy with features.
But for tasks beyond that, these additions might be necessary:
- Handle grips – go for plasticized or rubber handles that ensure a better grasp on the wheelbarrow
- Square tipping bars – make it easier to stand the barrow up against a support when not in use
- Tipping bar – this is the U-shaped bar immediately in front of the wheel(s). Not only do they act as brakes when you are emptying the wheelbarrow, but also helps protect the wheels when you hit an object
- Long handles – will help make leveraging easier
- Wide space between handles – check the size of the space between the handles – it needs to be wide enough not only to ensure better balancing of loads but also to ease maneuverability
11. Capacity & Limit
Wheelbarrow capacity is the hardest factor to get right.
It is going to depend on the purpose or type of the product.
However, most of the wheelbarrows you will find in your local hardware store have capacities anywhere between 75 and 85 liters but some can be as low as 50 liters or as high as 160 liters.
In terms of weight, 300 lbs. sounds like enough for most day-to-day garden transportation but some products will carry less or much more.
Also, note that 2-wheeled barrows often come with higher capacities than single-wheel options.
Different models have different weight/capacity limits, so check the maximum load as well.
12. Type of Terrain
Never buy a wheelbarrow without putting into consideration the type of terrain you intend it.
The type of terrain helps you choose the right size of the wheel because the barrow must move through a certain texture and type of soil.
The performance of the wheelbarrow will be influenced by the state of the ground.
Single wheel wheelbarrows don’t perform well on rugged terrains no matter the type of wheel, so you will definitely place your bet on a 2-wheeled product.
If the terrain is smooth and flat, for the single wheel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is a wheelbarrow a simple or compound machine?
For a machine to qualify as a compound machine, it must consist of two or more simple machines.
A wheelbarrow is a combination of the wheel(s), support, and the tub section, all of which puts it in the realm of compound machines.
Q: How much weight can you put in a wheelbarrow?
An average garden wheelbarrow can hold a maximum of about 1,200 lbs. of solid load and about 460 lbs. maximum load of liquid (because liquids can’t pile up).
Remember that when carrying solid loads, the material is normally compact, so it will certainly fit on the barrow even if it’s heavy.
Q: Are wheelbarrow tires universal?
The most commonly used sizing system for wheelbarrows and small cart tires are two numbers with a hyphen in-between them.
The size can also be a 3-number series a series separated by a “/” or an “X.”
The two most commonly used sizes are
- 4.10 – 6.
- and 4.00 – 6.
The first number unit is the overall height of the tire’s sidewall.
The second digit is the diameter of the rim.
Q: What are wheelbarrow handles made of?
Handless are normally made from the same material used to make the rest of the body of the wheelbarrow – it can be steel or wood; plastic is seldom used on handles though.
For wooden handles, it’s almost always hickory and ash although these have proved to be prohibitively expensive.
Oak is fairly common as well and can be used as a replacement.
Some 10-ft 1 X 2” pieces can be laminated together, to form replacement Oak handles.
Q: Why are wheelbarrows so expensive?
It’s partly because they combine several parts that are normally made from different materials.
The wheels have to be made from rubber.
If the tub is made from steel, then the handles should as well.
If you choose to go for a steel product with wooden handles, you will have to bear the cost of these.
The hickory, for example, isn’t the most affordable hardwood in the yards.