Keep your home's walkways safe this winter with our tips for choosing the best shovel type for your needs.
Although it’s not cold throughout the entire country, winters in the United States are virtually synonymous with snowy landscapes. Holiday movies present scenes of freshly fallen snow in perfect timing with family occasions. However, in real life, snow is a joy for just a short period before it turns sidewalks and roads into a hazard. It's important to remove snow before it becomes a danger, especially on roads, walkways, driveways, and staircases.
The best defense is a snow shovel appropriately sized to help you get ahead of the problem. Shoveling with a shovel that's the wrong height or weight can spell a workout complete with a sore back and arms. Luckily, there are many smartly-designed snow shovels to help clear your home's paths without any pain.
The Most Common Types of Snow Shovels
1. Standard Shovel
Standard shovels are the most common type used for snow removal. They have a plastic blade and a handle made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are used to lift the snow and toss it out of the way.
2. Ergonomic Shovel
An ergonomic shovel is ideal if you have back or neck pain. It is designed to make shoveling less strenuous. The curves in the handle are meant to require less bending and strain for the person doing the shoveling.
3. Push Snow Shovel
A push shovel simply pushes the snow out of the way rather than lifting it. With this style of shovel, you just shift the snow laterally. Because you don’t have to support the weight of the snow or raise the shovel, this can be good for people with back pain, too.
4. Sleigh Shovel
A sleigh shovel is like a push shovel, but it has a deeper blade and a U-shaped handle to allow the user to use both hands while shoveling.
5. Telescopic Shovel
A telescopic shovel is compact and easy to store. The handle folds into itself so that it can be stored in the trunk or boot of your car without any issues. Telescopic shovels are lightweight, with a sturdy but narrow blade. This shovel type is ideal for removing snow or ice from around your car, but it might be too small to clear large driveways or sidewalks.
How to Choose the Best Snow Shovel for Your Needs
1. Test Before Buying
How different could two shovels be? Well, you’d be surprised. Just go to any hardware store and test them out. Sure, there’s no snow inside, but you can mimic the movements of snow shoveling and quickly see the difference.
The height of a shovel can affect your posture, making it harder or easier to get the job done. Also, if the handle hurts your hand or wrists, it's time to put it back on the shelf. And keep in mind the weight of the shovel; if it feels too heavy while completely empty, imagine the strain when the blade is full of heavy snow and ice. While you can buy a snow shovel online, it’s best to try out a few in the store before making a final decision.
2. Be Mindful of the Blade
Shovel blades vary in shape and material, so consider the surfaces you’ll be shoveling to determine which is best.
Blade shapes: Flat shovels are great for cutting into deep snow piles, such as mounds or drifts pushed by snow plows. Round-shaped snow shovels are good for pushing snow to clear a path and tossing snow to a new location. If you plan to use the shovel for stairs and narrow pathways, you’ll also need to consider the width of the blade. In some cases, you’ll need a wide blade for driveways and sidewalks and a narrower blade for footpaths and steps.
Blade materials: Metal blades are strong and can carry heavy loads of snow. They don’t break easily, but they are often heavy. Also, you must use them with care to prevent scratches on your pavement or stairs. Plastic shovels are lightweight and easy to handle. They are great at preventing snow from sticking to surfaces. However, these shovels are more brittle and can break against rocks or metal. Many shovel models have a screw-on blade, so you can replace the blade if it gets damaged.
3. Choose a Comfortable Handle
Like blades, shovel handles also vary in material and shape. Although they seem like two parts, the handle usually refers to both the part held in hand, as well as the pole connecting to the shovel blade. There are also ergonomic snow shovels with different curves in the handle to offer versatile use as a scraper and a shovel. Here’s what to look for among different shovel handles on the market.
Wooden handles are relatively light and can last for years. You'll need to tighten the screws from time to time because wood expands and contracts, depending on the weather.
Metal handles are usually made from aluminum, so they are light and rust-free. Some metals can be heavy and are likely to rust if left wet.
Plastic handles are light and easy to manuever, but you must protect them from sun and heat damage when not in use.
Fiberglass handles are very strong and durable. They don’t rust and are unlikely to break. However, they can be relatively heavy to lift.