Uses and Applications of Skid-Steer Loaders

Skid-Steer Loaders are Ideal for Demolition and Grading Work

Photo J Rodriguez

A skid-steer loader is one of the most important equipment a builder must have. A skid-steer loader can be assembled with so many different attachments, that makes it one of the most valuable tools every contractor must have or rent in order to be successful. The equipment can be used almost in all construction trades with some simple adjustments making it ideal for tight spaces. 

How Skid-Steer Loaders are Classified

Depending on their manufacturer's operating capacity, skid-steer loaders are classified by the Associated Equipment Manufacturer and are broken down into the following divisions:

  • Zero to 1,251 lbs.
  • 1,251 to 1,350 lbs.
  • 1,351 to 1,600 lbs.
  • 1,601 to 1,750 lbs.
  • 1,751 to 2,200 lbs.
  • 2,201 to 2,700 lbs.
  • 2,701 lbs. and above

However skid-steer loaders are also categorized under one of these three groups:

  • Small frame = 1,750 lbs., under 50 hp
  • Medium frame = 1,750-2,200 lbs., 50-70 hp
  • Large frame = Over 2,200 lbs., over 70 hp

Let's take a look now at the different sizes and how they can be a potential fit for your project.

How to Choose the Righ Skid-Steer Loader

In order for you to decide which skid-steer loader to rent, you will need to evaluate the following:

  • How large is the space available to operate the equipment
  • Is it going to be used over open unfinished areas or it will be used over already developed and paved areas.
  • How heavy is the load the loader is going to lift?
  • How far does the load will be dumped and how far it will be hauled?
  • What type of work will the skid-steer loader will be performing? Drilling, hauling, demolishing, earthwork, sweeping, and so on.

    Comparison Between Skid-Steer Loader Sizes

    A small size equipment will be able to turn and rotate on tight space, allowing you reaching into tight spaces of driving it through narrow passageways. This type of loader is normally used for landscaping, site development, final grading and to provide final soil layers over patios, sidewalks, and other areas.

    It can also be used on underground parking structures due to its low profile and relatively lightweight when compared to bigger and heavier loaders. Great machine for interior and small demolition projects. It can also be equipped with almost any hydraulic attachment.

    The medium-size skid-steer loader can be used in many other areas where a small equipment is not suitable to complete the work. For example, this machine can be used when there is no room for large backhoes or excavators, and where a digger is not allowed to transit. It can be equipped with either tires or tracks making it very practical as it can drive over sidewalks, concrete plaza, asphalt and landscaped areas without subgrade rutting. 

    Larger version of the loader can be used to complete grading work, excavation, drilling and larger demolition work. Due to its quickness and relatively low profile, it can be moved around the site without the needs of having semis to move the equipment around the site. When equipped with the hydraulic attachments, it can be used to haul, dump a lot of soil and complete almost any type of work, so it's like having multiple machines in only one. It can be used as a telehandler or for forestry operations.

    Skid-Steer Loaders: Own Vs Rent?

    This one of the most asked questions in regards to equipment and tools in the construction industry. You first consider the following factors if you are planning on buying this type of equipment:

    • For how long will you be using the skid-steer loader?
    • What will be the conditions of your project? Ice, Snow, Sand, Mud?
    • Financial consideration and licensing requirements?
    • Maintenance and operation cost? Remember you will also need to hire an operator. 
    • Type of attachment that you will need to acquire as well.
    • Will you be using this equipment during subsequent projects? If not, can you rent it out?

    As described above, this equipment will add value and mobility to your site so make sure you are taking the right decision before its too late.