Are Wheelbarrow Handles Universal?

Over time, gardening tools like wheelbarrows age and deteriorate, requiring some parts to be replaced. However, if the tools or machines are too old, finding suitable parts from newer models might be challenging. For instance, not all wheelbarrow handles are easy to replace.

Wheelbarrow handles are not universal. There are several types of wheelbarrows based on the materials used and the number of wheels. Some are made of plastic, while others are steel. You may have also seen single and two-wheeled varieties. These factors affect the shape and features of the handles.

This article will discuss the different types of wheelbarrows and their handles, including their pros and cons. I will also give some tips on how to replace worn-out handles. Read on to learn more!

Different Types of Wheelbarrows and Their Handles

You can choose from several types of wheelbarrows based on purpose and design, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of the design, it is important to understand that the wheel carries the load while the handles make the machine easy to control, making these two parts crucial for the wheelbarrow to work correctly.

If it’s your first time buying a wheelbarrow, you might as well be familiar with the different types to make a sound purchase. It also helps to understand how each part works and how to replace them later, especially when you foresee heavy-duty gardening work.

An excellent wheelbarrow can last you decades or a lifetime if you take good care of it. However, some parts like the handles and wheels tend to wear down more quickly because they share the weight of the load.

Steel Wheelbarrows

If you need a sturdy wheelbarrow to carry heavy loads of soil and plants around your garden, you might as well use one made of steel. It is pretty durable and can support considerable weight.

However, one downside of steel wheelbarrows is that they can be prone to rust after repeated exposure to chlorinated tap water every time you clean them. 

On the other hand, stainless steel wheelbarrows are less likely to get rust because of a protective chromium oxide layer. It is worth noting that the stainless variants can be way pricier.

Steel wheelbarrows go well with different types of handles, such as wood and steel

Typically, the steel handles are welded to the steel tray, making it costly and impractical to replace the damaged handles. On the bright side, steel handles are durable, especially stainless ones, and less likely to need replacement.

Alternatively, steel wheelbarrows with wooden handles are also a great option. The steel tray is durable and can last a pretty long time. When necessary, it is easy to find a replacement for the wooden handles because manufacturers understand that they are less durable than the other parts of the machine.

Plastic Wheelbarrows

If you have a small garden and need lightweight use of the wheelbarrow, you can opt for one made of plastic. It is lighter and significantly cheaper than steel wheelbarrows. Plastic wheelbarrows are also more aesthetically flexible as they come in different colors and designs.

Many plastic wheelbarrows also have plastic handles that are irreplaceable. You can opt for plastic wheelbarrows with handles attached to the other parts by screws or bolts. There are also some wheelbarrows with classic designs that use wooden handles.

Be sure to use a plastic wheelbarrow within the recommended load because they are not designed for much heavier. Overloading your machine can reduce its lifespan, and you may need to replace the whole product.

Qualities of Different Types of Wheelbarrow Handles

The handles of a wheelbarrow are vital parts of the compound machine because they help make the load bearable to the operator. In simple terms, the handles assist the operator in carrying part of the actual weight of the load, so the operator does not have to exert much effort to lift the machine.

Because of this mechanism, wheelbarrow handles inevitably wear down with time. Their materials and design also contribute to how resistant or susceptible they can be to wear and tear.

Wooden Handle

The classic wooden wheelbarrow handles are the easiest to find. So if you have a wheelbarrow with wooden handles, you can visit your local hardware or gardening store and most likely find suitable replacements.

There are readily available wooden handles, and they go well with classic wheelbarrow designs. However, you may need to drill the holes yourself to make sure they fit well where the bolts should be.

Alternatively, you can cut your own choice of wood to the right shape and length. Some types of wood are more durable than others, and you may have difficulty finding a wooden handle with your preferred material.


  • A wooden handle is sturdy enough to support the weight of a steel wheelbarrow. 
  • The best feature of wooden handles is their resistance to rust which often causes problems among steel products. 
  • They are not affected by extreme temperatures, either.
  • It is easy to find replacements for wooden wheelbarrow handles.


  • It is more susceptible to wear and tear than its steel counterpart. 
  • The wood grains can break apart into splinters that can be painful to the wheelbarrow operator.
  • Wood is vulnerable to rotting and termite attacks.

Steel Handle

Steel wheelbarrow handles are typically made of the same material as the steel tray. Stainless types are undoubtedly more durable but can be significantly more expensive. They usually come with rubber tips to protect the operator from temperature changes and provide a better grip.


  • Steel is more durable than wood.
  • It can support more weight.


  • It is irreplaceable if welded to the steel tray.
  • It can be costly to repair/replace.
  • Steel handles are susceptible to rust.
  • They are sensitive to the elements like rainwater and intense heat.

Plastic Handle

There are plenty of advantages to using plastic handles, but there can also be downsides, such as the challenge of finding replacements. That’s why plastic handles are the least popular unless you also have a plastic wheelbarrow. It’s important to remember that this material is designed for lighter weight, and it’s best not to go over that.

Plastic wheelbarrow handles also typically end with rubber tips to provide the operator a better grip on the machine.


  • Lightweight
  • Stable temperature
  • Aesthetic design
  • Rustproof
  • Waterproof 
  • Cheap 


  • Less sturdy and prone to bending under excessive weight
  • Typically irreplaceable

How to Replace the Wheelbarrow Handles

Though wheelbarrows are extremely durable, they often need to be fixed. Their handles may break and their tires may go flat, but luckily, there’s usually a very simple way to fix your wheelbarrow.

Regardless of the material, it is possible to replace your wheelbarrow handles as long as they are not welded or glued into the tray. Most wheelbarrow handles are attached to the tray and wheels through bolts and nuts.

For plastic and steel handles, you may need to find the same design from your wheelbarrow seller because they are unlikely to be available at a general hardware or gardening store. 

When going for a generic steel handle, remember that they most likely already have pre-drilled holes, so it’s important to find the replacement for the right model and design. It can be challenging to drill new holes in steel handles when the pre-drilled ones don’t align with your wheelbarrow.

Check and replace the bolts and nuts when necessary because rusty ones can spread the problem to the other metal parts of your wheelbarrow.

On the other hand, wooden handles are widely available, even online. You can also choose the type of wood you’d want to go with. Some have pre-drilled holes, while others have none, so you can measure the appropriate spots to drill them in.

Some people with woodworking skills can even make their own wheelbarrow handles. If you plan to go this route, you can customize the shape of your handles. However, it’s likely to take much time and effort and can even be more costly than buying pre-made ones.

Here’s an excellent video showing how to replace your wooden wheelbarrow handles:

Final Thoughts

Wheelbarrow handles are not universal because there are several types and designs of wheelbarrows. So, depending on the design of your wheelbarrow, you may need to buy a whole new machine when the handles are damaged.

It’s easier to find wooden handle replacements for classic wheelbarrow designs. However, you’ll have to drill the holes yourself unless you get the new handles from the same supplier from whom you bought the wheelbarrow.

When choosing your next wheelbarrow, you may need to consider the convenience of replacing the handles in case they get damaged.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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