Forklifts are a must-have in any construction project. Saving you from heavy lifting, forklifts speed up work and perform feats that no amount of manpower could rival. But with so many different sizes, classes, and types of forklifts, it can be hard to know what piece of machinery should go with what job. Here is a quick guide.


There are three basic weight classes of forklifts, and each one has its preferred uses. The smaller, more agile 20-ton forklift offers the highest maneuverability, making it the perfect forklift for tighter warehouses and taking on the road. It is smaller and navigates tighter spaces, while still lifting a substantial load of anywhere from 2,000 to 15,000 pounds. The mid-size forklift is the 25–35-ton forklift. As would be expected, this heavier forklift is bulkier, which decreases its speed and maneuverability. However, it can tackle the heavy weights—taking on anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds. Last, we find the massive, 40-ton forklifts. These forklifts are best used for moving very heavy loads within the same facility. Once this forklift is set up inside a warehouse or factory, it is likely to stay there. Used for the heaviest of loads, the 40-ton forklift is the slowest and most cumbersome of the sizes. Also, be aware that, as the size of the forklift increases, so does the cost.

Class V

The seven basic classes of forklifts provide a lot of variability in forklift uses. Each forklift is designed with specific loads and terrains in mind. The Class V forklift has an internal combustion engine, which is particularly durable and drivable. These tend to work well on many terrain types, thanks to their pneumatic tires.You can choose from two types of pneumatic tires, air pneumatics and solid pneumatics. A common example of air pneumatic tires are the ones found on most passenger vehicles. Solid pneumatics are made of solid rubber, making them more puncture-proof and a fantastic choice for construction sites where there will be a lot of nails and other sharp objects. If you need a forklift for basic outdoor work, Class V forklifts could be your best option.

Class VII

For your most rugged outdoor construction projects, Class VII forklifts are your best choice. With tractor tires, diesel fuel, and a solid build, Class VII forklifts are specially designed for use in rough areas such as lumber yards, farms, and construction sites. With telescoping masts, these forklifts have an extended reach, ideal for lifting heavy items to and from elevated spots. Class VII forklifts are typically loaded onto a truck with the use of a trailer mover and transported to a worksite. Trailer movers can accommodate most fork positions and make it far easier to control the movement of a trailer than it is with a truck or tractor.

Industrial Forklift

The industrial forklift, or large capacity forklift, is a great machine for industrial settings and construction. With powerful hydraulic levers, it marries the reach of a telehandler with the high load capacity of a mid-size forklift. While it doesn’t possess the striking agility of a telehandler, it is able to lift loads far higher than a standard forklift. Furthermore, top industrial forklifts go the distance with an imposing 36,000 lb. lifting capacity. The industrial forklift is typically used for moving massive loads between locations.

Rough Terrain Forklift

The rough terrain forklift, or all-terrain forklift, is appropriately named as a machine designed for rough and uneven terrain. According to OSHA classifications, rough terrain forklifts are considered to be Class VII lifts. Large, reinforced, and powerful, the tough terrain forklift is replete with sturdy pneumatic tires, the option for four-wheel drive, and diesel or propane powered engines. Rough terrain forklifts are a must-have for construction sites and outdoor facilities. While these forklifts offer great drivability on natural or disturbed terrain construction sites, caution must be used to avoid tipping accidents. All forklifts should only be operated when they are in a stable position. This means that extremely uneven or inclined terrain should be avoided.


Telehandlers have a far greater reach than most forklifts, including a forward reach. Used for the tallest and most delicate lifting, telehandlers can be driven on rough terrain and still used for tenuous jobs such as sign installation. Rotating telehandler forklifts improve upon the standard telehandler with a 360-degree swivel, allowing for greatly increased maneuverability. This function allows for movement along a circular axis without being required to move the vehicle. Additionally, telehandlers offer finely tuned steering features such as power and all-wheel steering, allowing the driver to get nearer to the target. The highest scoping telehandlers possess an impressive reach of 80 feet, and maximum load capacities range from 4,000 to 10,000 pounds.

The more you know about the various options of forklifts available, the more informed your choice can be. Start backwards. Think about the tasks you need to be performed on a regular basis and go from there.

For information on building your own custom home, check out this page here!