Skid Steer vs. Bulldozer: Which is Better For You?

If you’re gardening, you wouldn’t choose a shovel to rake or a rake to shovel, right? 

Well, when it comes to construction or earthmoving projects, choosing the right machinery for the job can be just as important as tossing up between two tools in your shed. And the right decision to get your earth movies can often fall to two popular machines: the skid steer and the bulldozer.

Skid steers are versatile machines that can be used for a variety of landscaping and earthworks tasks, while bulldozers are known for their power and capability for big, heavy-duty jobs – but which one is better to move earth the way you need it moved? Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between skid steers and bulldozers and answer some common FAQs to help you make a good choice.


What are the differences between skid steers and bulldozers?

Skid steers are compact machines that are designed for manoeuvrability and versatility. They have a small frame with four wheels or tracks, which allows them to easily navigate tight spaces and work in different terrains. 

  • Skid steers are typically equipped with a bucket or attachment on the front, making them ideal for tasks such as digging, grading, and loading. 

  • On the other hand, bulldozers are much larger and are designed for heavy-duty jobs such as land clearing, grading, and excavation. They have a wide blade on the front that can move large quantities of material at a time.


  • Bulldozers come in various sizes, from compact dozers to large mining bulldozers. Compact bulldozers are suitable for small projects and landscaping, while large mining bulldozers are designed for heavy-duty earthmoving and excavation that require large masses of earth to be moved. 

  • On the other hand, skid steers are smaller machines and are typically used for smaller projects. They come in different sizes as well, with the smaller ones weighing around 680 kilos and the larger ones weighing over 4,500.


Both skid steers and bulldozers have a colourful range of versatile attachments available to enhance their functionality:

  • Skid steers can be fitted with various tools such as augers, backhoes, trenchers, and sweepers for a wide variety of site uses. They can also have forks, buckets, and grapples attached to them for handling materials. 

  • Bulldozers meanwhile typically have a blade attached to the front that is used for pushing soil, rubble, and other materials. Additional attachments can include rippers, winches, and blades for grading.


Much like other finicky heavy machinery, regularly using both a skid steer and a bulldozer will require regular maintenance to keep them in good working order:

  • Skid steers have fewer moving parts than bulldozers, which makes them easier to maintain, and regular maintenance will usually include checking and changing fluids, inspecting belts and hoses, and greasing the machine's joints. 

  • Meanwhile, bulldozers have more moving parts, which makes maintenance a bit more complex. Regular maintenance for bulldozers includes checking and changing fluids, inspecting hydraulic systems, and replacing worn-out tracks or undercarriage parts.


  • Skid steers are ideal for use in small and confined spaces due to their compact size and manoeuvrability. They are also useful for tasks that require precision and accuracy, such as landscaping and job site preparation. 

  • Bulldozers are designed for heavy-duty tasks such as land clearing, excavation, and road construction. They are also useful for tasks that require the movement of large amounts of material over long distances.

How much do skid steers and bulldozers usually cost?

The cost of a skid steer can vary depending on the size, make, and model – entry-level models can cost between $15,000 and $30,000, while more advanced models can cost upwards of $50,000. However, renting a skid steer can be more cost-effective for short-term projects, with rental rates starting at around $200 per day.

The cost of a bulldozer also depends on the size, make, and model. Small bulldozers can be rented for around $500 per day, while larger models can cost upwards of $1,000 per day. If purchasing, small bulldozers can cost between $30,000 and $80,000, while larger models can cost upwards of $200,000.


Skid steers vs. bulldozers: which is better for my job?

Both skid steers and bulldozers are hugely versatile machines that can be used for a wide range of construction and landscaping tasks… but in the end, the choice between the two depends on what it is you need done. Naturally, skid steers are generally smaller and more manoeuvrable, making them ideal for smaller projects and tasks that require precision and accuracy. Bulldozers, on the other hand, are larger and more powerful, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks such as land clearing and road construction. 

Ultimately, the decision between a skid steer and a bulldozer comes down to the specific project requirements – and, of course, the budget you’re working with.

If you need to rent or purchase a skid steer or bulldozer, iseekplant is Australia's leading online marketplace for construction plant and hire services. You can browse a wide range of machines from various suppliers and get the best rates for your project needs.


Additional fAQs

Which is better for clearing land?

When it comes to land clearing, bulldozers are generally more efficient and powerful than skid steers. They are designed to move large quantities of material quickly and can handle rough terrain. However, skid steers can still be useful for smaller clearing tasks, such as removing trees and stumps. They can also be fitted with several attachments, such as a brush cutter, which makes them more versatile for these tasks.

Can you use a skid steer as a bulldozer?

While skid steers and bulldozers have different capabilities, some skid steers can be used as a small dozer with the right attachment. A skid steer can be fitted with a dozer blade or a grapple bucket, which can make it capable of pushing and moving large quantities of material. However, the size and power of a skid steer may not be sufficient for some heavy-duty jobs that require the strength and power of a full-size bulldozer.

Is it easier to operate a skid steer or a bulldozer?

Both skid steers and bulldozers require specialised skills and training to operate. However, skid steers are generally considered easier to operate than bulldozers because they have a smaller frame and are more manoeuvrable. Bulldozers require more skill and experience to operate, as they are larger and more powerful machines. Operators of both machines need to be properly trained and licensed to ensure safety and efficiency.