What Exactly Is a Skid Loader in Construction?

What Exactly Is a Skid Loader in Construction?

Projections show that the global skid loader market will reach a value of $2.6 billion by 2025.

This growth is due to the usefulness and versatility of skid loaders in the world of construction. But what is a skid loader? And how will one benefit you?

Keep reading to find out.

What Is a Skid Loader?

A skid loader (also sometimes called a skid steer) is a small construction vehicle with two hydraulic lifting arms which allow for a range of attachments, giving multiple uses.

In terms of machinery used for construction projects, skid loaders may be small but are also one of the most useful pieces of kit on a worksite.

Wheeled versions use differential steering to turn, and tracked models are also available.

Different Considerations

There are plenty of skid steers on the market. When you are picking one for your project, there are some elements you need to consider.

Size and Width

The scale of the job you’re working on and the space you have to work in are very important factors. You want a skid steer that is big enough to handle the job, but you don’t want one that is too big to easily maneuver around the site.

Your skid should have enough horsepower and ROC (rated operating capacity) for the job. The ROC will be half of the tipping load and can range from roughly 700 lbs to over 3,000 lbs.

Lift Type

Skid loaders are most often radial lift machines that don’t lift very high. They are more suited for pushing, digging, and generally moving materials.

For lifting, you may need a vertical lift skid loader. This is generally if you will be lifting materials to eye level or higher.


Wheeled skids are generally the faster option, and are best for hard, even surfaces such as asphalt. They may have trouble operating on rough terrain, so if the ground is loose, uneven, or muddy on your site you should opt for a tracked skid loader.

Just note that tracked skids can damage landscaped surfaces. They are also usually more expensive than wheeled skids and need more maintenance.


The attachment capability of skid loaders is their primary advantage. Think about this when looking at used rental equipment.

Consider the specific attachments you will need for your project, and ensure you get a skid that is compatible with all of them. If you don’t you may find yourself needing a second skid loader, or another piece of machinery to carry out a certain task.

Some attachments can only be fitted to skid loaders that have a certain ROC – often upwards of 1,800. Naturally, skids with a higher ROC will have a higher load capacity.

Skid loaders with high-flow hydraulic systems can get jobs done faster than skids with standard hydraulic systems. This is because they provide the attachment with more flow and can operate at a higher capacity.

Typical Uses

Skid loaders are popular because they can carry out so many tasks. Some common applications include:

  • Digging
  • Leveling
  • Grading
  • Demolition
  • Brush cleaning
  • Snow removal

The list goes well beyond this, making them one of the most versatile pieces of construction equipment available. Just note that not all skid loaders can perform the same tasks, as the jobs they can do are limited by the compatible attachments.

Finding the Right Skid Loader

The factors above need to be considered before buying or renting a skid loader, otherwise, you risk ending up with a skid that is not suited for the task.

If you’re interested in more construction articles, check out some of our other blog posts.