Plastic Vs. Steel Wheelbarrows: Which One Is Better for You?

Gardening can be a fun activity to do; however, to turn your dull-looking garden into a beautiful one, you will need to get the proper gardening tools.

One of the tools often not given importance is the wheelbarrow, even though it should be in the inventory of any gardener or construction worker.

There are many different materials a wheelbarrow is made from, and in this article, we’ve discussed which kind would be perfect for you.

So, plastic vs. steel wheelbarrows, which one is better for you? Check out the table below to explore their pros and cons.

The table below summarizes the differences between plastic wheelbarrows and steel wheelbarrows, as well as the pros and cons of both.

Plastic WheelbarrowsSteel Wheelbarrows
– Plastic Wheelbarrows are lightweight materials and comes in various colors, sizes, and shapes.
– It is easier to maneuver and lift even with heavy loads.
– It can last longer because it is rust-resistant and is not susceptible to corrosion.
– It could buckle when carrying too much weight.
– It becomes brittle with time, particularly with sun exposure or cold.
– It can’t carry heavy things, including rocks or logs, which might lead the plastic to break or crack.
– Steel wheelbarrows are generally sturdier materials and quite durable.
– It will not buckle or even fold when hauling heavyweight.
– It makes it easier to move heavier materials, including paint cans, gravel, and bricks.
– It will not become brittle from harsh weather conditions, including snow, rain, or sun exposure.
– It gets much heavier when piled up with heavy things.
– It is more susceptible to rust and corrosion. 
– It is not easier to maneuver compared to the plastic one. 
The table Summarizes The Differences Between Plastic And Steel Wheelbarrows And The Pros And Cons Of Both –

What Is A Wheelbarrow?

Let us simplify it for people who don’t know what a wheelbarrow is. It’s a type of vehicle with one wheel in the front and two handles in the back for one person to push.

A wheelbarrow is generally used for carrying small loads and is equipped with handles at the rear, which can be pushed and guided.

Background of Wheelbarrows

These helpful gardening tools were made a long time back in Asia. In China, specifically, the first wheelbarrow was created to help move injured soldiers on the battlefield and give medicine, food, and other supplies. 

Back then, wheelbarrows were made up of wood, but eventually, with time, other materials like steel and plastic became more popular. Now, this equipment is used majorly for agricultural and construction purposes.

What Are the Uses of a Wheelbarrow?

Most of the time, you will notice a wheelbarrow being used for gardening purposes; other times, it is used at construction sites to carry cement, sand, or any other heavy material. In addition, professional gardeners use this equipment to move the soil, haul plants, transport wood, disposal of debris and weed, etc.

Types of Wheelbarrow

Wheelbarrow comes in multiple types and forms. With advancements in technology, the design of the new wheelbarrows has been upgraded a bit as well. 

However, most people wonder whether they should get a plastic or steel wheelbarrow. These two types are the most commonly preferred ones, and knowing the benefits of each will help you decide which one to get.

Plastic vs. Steel Wheelbarrow: What Are The Differences?

Ensuring you have the correct tool you need is crucial. As plastic and steel wheelbarrows are both used mostly, it can be confusing to decide which will work better.

To make it easier for you, we’ve described in detail both the materials, including the benefits and drawbacks.

Plastic Wheelbarrow

The plastic wheelbarrows came into the picture after the traditional steel wheelbarrow. It quickly gained popularity due to its lightweight design. The plastic wheelbarrow was a major hit for home gardeners and professional landscapers.

It came with added benefits such as easier to pick up and move around. Its durability is also a reason why it became one of the top choices. With the plastic wheelbarrow, you can move empty plant pots, seedlings, tools, mulch, etc., wherever you want to.

Benefits of Using Plastic Wheelbarrows

The biggest perk of using a plastic wheelbarrow is because of its lightweight; your back will feel less stressed and will feel much more comfortable using it. Apart from that, it’s comparatively cheaper than the steel one.

There is a huge range of colors, designs, and shapes that you can get plastic wheelbarrows in. So, when it is not in use, the wheelbarrow can act as a showpiece to make your garden look aesthetic.

Plastic Wheelbarrows are also durable; hence, you’ll save money in the long run. It’s rust resistance, so no matter what you put in it, it’s not going to rot.

Disadvantages of Using Plastic Wheelbarrows

When there are advantages, certainly some drawbacks are present too. One of them being there’s only limited weight you can carry in the plastic wheelbarrows. So, a plastic wheelbarrow is not the right choice if you plan on carrying heavier materials.

Another downside is that plastic is more prone to wear and tear. If there are any sharp items like broken glass in the yard, they can easily get cut or scratched. Plus, with time, due to sun exposure, it can be brittle and fade.

Steel Wheelbarrow

Steel is one of the oldest materials used to make a wheelbarrow. As the material is sturdy, it was and still is used to up hefty items. You can use a steel wheelbarrow in industrial sites and for home gardens. 

They’re not delicate and hence can be used to pick up anything ranging from cement, rocks, and glass to garden mulch, plants, branches, etc.

One thing to remember before investing in a steel wheelbarrow is that you need physical strength to pick it up. The weather also plays a factor in the durability of the steel, so it’s essential to take that into consideration.

Benefits of Using Steel Wheelbarrows

The benefit of steel wheelbarrows depends on the purpose you want them for. If your garden has a lot of mud or your plan is to create a mini forest, then this equipment is for you. It will help you carry a lot of stuff at the same time, so you won’t have to worry about overloading.

The steel wheelbarrows can also be used on construction sites to mix cement and carry heavy bags and bricks.

Furthermore, sun exposure has little to no effect on the durability of steel and can be used for many years without the tension of it wearing down.

Disadvantages of Using Steel Wheelbarrows

One of the obvious drawbacks of using a steel wheelbarrow is that it can cause physical stress if you’re not used to carrying heavy items.

Construction workers are used to heavy loading, but for a home gardener, it might be difficult and take some time to get used to.

As previously mentioned, weather can have an effect on the wheelbarrow’s condition. Although the sun doesn’t do any damage; however, on the other hand, rain and moisture can cause the steel to rust.

Once rust sets in, it cannot be stopped, rendering your steel wheelbarrow useless. However, to deal with this, you can get a galvanized steel wheelbarrow, reducing the chances of it rusting.

Other Parts to Consider

Apart from whether you want steel or plastic, other parts of the wheelbarrow can be of importance during purchase, such as:

  • Tray size: There are different tray sizes present which you can choose from, including 80L, 100L, etc. If your yard consists of a lot of work, go for a larger capacity tray; otherwise, you can opt for a smaller one if the workload is minimal.
  • Wheels: Just like the tray, the wheels are of many kinds as well. Pneumatic tires allow the wheelbarrow to go on rough surfaces as it absorbs shock. The non-pneumatic ones aren’t as smooth, but they surely won’t pop as the former type would.

Both the types have their own pros and cons and knowing which one will be better for you depends on what you need it for. Steel wheelbarrows are majorly used for heavy-duty work, while a plastic wheelbarrow is preferred for house backyards.

The two of them can be durable as long as proper care is taken, such as keeping them secure in a garden shed when not in use. Due to the physical stress factor, people opt for plastic ones more but if you think strength is not an issue, then go for whichever you’re comfortable with.

Plastic Vs. Steel Wheelbarrows: Which One Should You Choose?

Plastic and steel wheelbarrows are helpful but have different goals and purposes. Steel wheelbarrows are for heavy-duty tasks, and plastic wheelbarrows are for everyday household, gardening, or backyard work. However, if you are a hardcore gardener who does not mind carrying weight, go for the steel wheelbarrow as it lasts longer than plastic.

But a plastic wheelbarrow will be an excellent choice if you typically perform average housework and gardening work and have sufficient space. A plastic wheelbarrow is generally easy to maneuver and sufficient for carrying tools, empty pots, bags of soil, weeds, and other light materials.

If you are interested in investing in Two Wheel Wheelbarrows, I wrote an article discussing my top 5 favorites on the market. I encourage you to read this article.

Wrapping Up

I hope you find this article answered your questions about plastic vs. steel wheelbarrows. Overall, plastic and steel wheelbarrows have their benefits and can help you in many projects.

I suggest you go with the steel wheelbarrow because they could generally manage much more than the plastic ones. It also depends on your preference, like what you plan to do with your wheelbarrow and which one you will feel comfortable with.

Just remember that plastic wheelbarrows are rust-resistant, while steel wheelbarrows can get rusty and are easily affected by the weather but do not crack or break.


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the guy behind Plants Heaven is a blog that shares information about preparing, creating, and maintaining gardens in and out of your home, regardless of where you live. My goal is to help you learn to love gardening and reap the benefits that come with it. I am still learning; therefore, the information I share on this site may not always be “expert” advice or information. But, I do my VERY best to make sure the information shared on this blog is both accurate and helpful.

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