Steel Snow Plow Blades vs. Carbide Plow Blades

Snow plow blades are an important purchase, as they need to be able to effectively remove snow and ice to make passage safer for both pedestrians and vehicles. Choosing the right snow plow blade is far from straightforward, as there are several types available. The most popular and effective types of snow plow blades are steel snow plow blades and carbide plow blades. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more about steel snow plow blades and carbide snow plow blades.

Steel Snow Plow Blades

Steel snow plow blades are by far the most common type of snow plow blades in use today. Steel blades are relatively affordable and very effective until they begin to wear down. This has led up to three-quarters of municipalities across the country. While rubber plow blades may be effective against soft snow, steel blades are needed for ice or hard-packed snow. Steel blades are so effective, in fact, that municipalities that use them do not have to put as much salt or de-icing chemicals on their roads.

While steel snow plow blades do have their downsides, however. They do wear out fairly quickly, especially when used in areas of heavy icing. If you install blade guards and shoes, you can extend the life of your steel plow blade. However, you will likely still need to replace steel plow blades several times each winter.

While the relatively short life of steel plow blades is a legitimate concern, it may not be the biggest downside of this blade type. Steel plow blades can damage road surfaces. Depending on the skill of the operator and on whether the blade has guards and shoes, this road damage can be severe. Many municipalities go with cheap steel blades in the winter and face steep road repair bills when the snow clears.

Carbide Plow Blades

Carbide are made out of a combination of carbon and metal, making them incredibly strong and light. Carbide blades also last much longer than steel blades, as they are resistant to wear and tear. They will maintain a sharp cutting edge for longer, while steel blades will quickly wear and become less effective in a much shorter period of time.

As effective as carbide blades are, they do have their disadvantages. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage for most municipalities is the upfront cost of carbide blades. Carbide blades are considerably more expensive than steel blades. However, you have to remember that a single carbide blade can last as long as several steel blades. Carbide blades may also damage roads if used improperly, just as steel blades can damage road surfaces. Finally, carbide blades are more brittle than steel blades. This means that while they will not wear down as quickly, a hard impact could crack a carbide blade. This is why most municipalities that invest in carbide blades also buy a steel cover blade and plow guards.

Which Blade Type is Better?

Either steel or carbide blades may be the right choice, depending on the situation in your municipality. If your municipality is on a tight budget, you will need to go with the more affordable steel blades. If money isn’t quite as tight, you may want to go with carbide blades, as you can save money in the long run with these longer-lasting blades. This is especially true if your municipality frequently has icy roads, as ice will wear out steel blades much more quickly than a little snow. No matter which type of blade you get, make sure to protect it with blade guards and shoes.

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