Construction Equipment: The Ultimate Buying Guide

A crucial list of heavy equipment and their construction uses.

A worker is only as good as their tools, which is why it’s so important to select construction equipment that will keep projects running on time and within budget. This helpful alphabetized list of construction equipment (and their practical applications) will help contractors find the right piece of construction equipment for sale – no matter what the task.

But first, always consider these factors when choosing any type of construction equipment:

  • Cost – Not just the purchase price, but also the price to own. Heavy equipment insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs are three important expenses to calculate before buying anything.
  • Size – Larger equipment will usually get a project done faster, but it can cost more to purchase, operate and maintain. Only choose construction machines that can safely fit on the job site.
  • Worksite Conditions – Terrain and climate must be taken into consideration. For example, tracked construction machines are better in the mud than wheeled ones.
Construction Equipment
This construction equipment list is sure to save you from "digging" around for information.


Tools on the front and rear of the backhoe offer multiple construction applications.

With a broad loader bucket on the front and a narrower digging bucket towards the rear, backhoes excel at digging trenches, removing trees, smoothing surfaces, and pushing dirt around the construction site. They can be found hauling materials away, performing light demolitions, digging and filling trenches for piping, and grading roads.

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Dozers are great for clearing sites of debris.

Bulldozers have a large pusher blade on the front for clearing land and managing debris. They also have one or more ripper claws on the back for breaking apart extremely dense materials. Bulldozers often lead the way for other heavy equipment by stripping away soils and sand to create a level construction site. They are also used to rip apart asphalt, push construction debris into compact piles, and easily tow massive containers of petroleum and other chemicals.

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Concrete Mixer Trucks

Cement Mixer Trucks
Concrete mixer trucks stay in constant motion so that the mix does not dry.

Concrete mixer trucks are also commonly referred to as "cement trucks", though this term is only partially correct. Cement is actually mixed with water and either sand or gravel in order to make concrete, so concrete mixture trucks is the correct phrase. Aside from transporting the concrete mix across roadways, these trucks can pour the cement mixture where it needs to go using chutes, pumps, hoses, or conveyor belts.

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Excavators are generally better at digging than backhoes.

Excavators use a boom and bucket fixed to a rotating base to dig holes, handle materials and remove large obstructions such as boulders. As one of the most common construction machines on both large and small jobs, excavators can perform basic “cut and fill” site preparations, construct roads, transport construction materials, remove debris, demolish, dig foundations, trench, and work on marine engineering projects such as building sea walls, dredging, and installing harbors and marinas.

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Running a generator set during "peak hours" of the day can shave serious money off of energy bills.

Providing adequate power is a top priority on any job site, and that’s exactly what generator sets are meant to do. Generators can run on clean-burning natural gas, gasoline, or diesel fuel. Gasoline generators are the cheapest to buy and operate, but sometimes they have pricey replacement parts; natural gas generators cost less than diesel generators, but are more expensive overall to run; and diesel generators are the most reliable, but also the most cumbersome when transporting.

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Light Towers

Light Towers
Light towers focus intense light beams on a site so that work can continue.

Light towers are portable light sources with at least one high-powered electric lamp on top of a tall pole. They conveniently come with their own generators to provide power as well as tow trailers for transportation. Light towers keep workers safe by illuminating the job site, preventing injuries and allowing construction to take place at night as well as in darkened indoor areas. The value of light towers really “shines” during the months with shortened days, when dusk comes sooner.

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Motor Graders

Motor graders
Motor graders can handle dirt just as well as asphalt.

A motor grader is a powerful piece of road construction equipment that uses a long flat blade to create a smooth surface (for asphalt, gravel and dirt roads). They also have a massive ripper attachment that lowers from the front to break apart asphalt and other tough surfaces. Construction crews use motor grades for road maintenance and construction, to create foundation pads out of the soil, to clear out underbrush for site preparations, and for fine grading sites for large buildings.

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Scraper Tractors

Scraper Tractors
Tractor scrapers can help prepare virtually any large and open construction site.

Scraper tractors remove soil or clay by shredding it first with a sharp-edged hopper and then simply driving over it for collection. The hopper raises and closes off when full so that the scraper tractor can safely deposit its contents somewhere else. Scraper tractors excel at short hauls and are primarily used for highway and road construction.

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Skid Steers

Skid Steers
One of the most adaptable pieces of heavy equipment of all time.

Skid steers are highly versatile and maneuverable construction machines with a front bucket that can dig into soil and grade surfaces. The true value of a skid steer is its seemingly endless array of construction attachments, which allows it to do everything from demolition jobs to road construction. Skid steers can prepare sites by grading, haul away debris, spread materials, mill roads to new modifications, mix and pump concrete, and lift heavy loads. Skid steers are also perfect for lifting pavers and setting them down precisely to create customizable pathways in both residential and commercial construction projects.

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Wheel Loaders

Wheel Loaders
A wheel loader in action.

Wheel loaders have two arms attached to a powerful front loader bucket that can loosen materials before scooping them away. These construction machines specialize in stockpiling, dumping, and transporting asphalt, dirt, site waste, gravel, rocks, sand, and woodchips wherever needed. With the right attachments, they can also help prep sites by removing heavy vegetation and trees.

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3 Tips When Looking at Used Construction Equipment for Sale

Ask yourself these questions when browsing used construction equipment for sale:

How old is the construction equipment?

Once you know how old a piece of construction equipment is, the easier it will be to roughly estimate how much longer it will last for, and therefore its overall worth. This will also help you determine the amount of maintenance in the near future, and may even help you preemptively guess which parts will go bad next (so that you can factor in replacement costs when considering the asking price).

Do I need the most current technology?

The latest technology is sometimes not easily available within the used construction equipment market. If you are doing something simple like digging a hole, then you won’t need the latest technology and can use older equipment. However, if you are you doing something that absolutely requires advanced technology, then you may have to buy it new.

Was this equipment used responsibly?

The number of hours or miles logged only tells a small part of the story. A piece of construction equipment that has been frequently used by a responsible owner may be in better shape than construction equipment that was used less times, but more recklessly.

Be sure to examine the body for welds or dents, as these clues can tell you how hard this machine was used.

Find the Right Construction Equipment with My Little Salesman

Use what you've learned from this guide to check out our marketplace of new and used construction equipment for sale by owners and dealers. With detailed equipment specifications and seller information at your disposal, you won’t have any problem using our website to find the right listing today!