Skid Steer Or Forklift | Differences, Similarities, And Uses

Posted on: 15 June 2023


In the world of construction, heavy lifting and moving are an essential part of any construction project. Skid steers and forklifts are two of the most popular and widely used machinery on construction sites for these tasks. While there are similarities and differences between the two, understanding when to use each can make a difference. Here's what you need to know.

Skid steers and forklifts are both used to lift and move heavy objects. Both are versatile and can be fitted with different attachments for more specialized tasks. However, each has its distinct set of pros and cons, including the following.

Design and functionality

The design and functionality of skid steers and forklifts are quite different. A skid steer is a compact, four-wheeled vehicle with a bucket or shovel at the front. It is designed to turn easily and work in small spaces. On the other hand, a forklift is a larger vehicle with a wide base and two forks attached to it. The forks are designed to move up and down and carry heavy loads.


Skid steers are highly maneuverable and can turn within their own footprint, making them ideal for work in small spaces. Their wheels can move independently, allowing them to maneuver around tight corners or obstacles. While forklifts can also turn, their turning radius is much larger than a skid steer's. They are better positioned for work in larger, more open areas.

Load capacity and reach

Load capacity is where forklifts shine. They have a greater load capacity and a higher than skid steers. Conversely, skid steers have a lower load capacity and reach.


Skid steers are used mainly for digging, grading, and hauling materials. They are useful in landscaping and demolition projects, where tight corners and small spaces must be maneuvered to move dirt, gravel, and other material. Forklifts, while also used on construction sites, focus more on lifting heavy loads to higher elevations, like bundles of shingles to a roof. They are the go-to machines for lifting and moving heavy objects and are frequently used in warehouses, factories, and shipping yards.


As with any machinery on a construction site, safety is paramount. Operators of skid steers and forklifts should have proper training, certification, and licensing to operate these machines. Both have several safety features in place, including seat belts, backup alarms, and stability controls. However, safety checks should be done before every use, and operators should constantly monitor the condition of the equipment to reduce the risk of accidents.

Both skid steers and forklifts are necessary equipment for any construction site. While there are similarities between the two, it's essential to understand their differences and how each machine can be used most effectively. For more information on forklifts, contact a professional near you.