16 Essential Construction Attachments

While a specialized machine is a great asset to have on a work site, many contractors and construction businesses can find more efficient and cost-effective ways to complete their tasks with the help of attachments.

Attachments hook onto existing machinery and are especially popular and easy to use with skid steers, tractors and mini excavators. You'll find them across many industries, as they offer specific job completion in a smaller package. Let's take a look at some of the most well-loved attachments and what they can do for you.

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Must-Have Attachments

Whether you're using a skid steer, a mini excavator or another machine, here are some of the heavy equipment attachments that workers depend on to get the job done every day.

1. Augers

If your work involves digging holes, an auger is a necessity. This simple tool uses a helical screw blade that draws out the earth you're removing from the ground as it rotates.

While you can use standalone augers, a skid steer auger attachment is more powerful and can reduce the physical stress on workers. It is much faster and more accurate to leverage the hydraulics in your skid steer to power an auger attachment.

A variety of augers, bit types and teeth can plow through different types of earth. You can rent a direct-drive auger for balanced torque and RPM, which is great for everyday materials like soft dirt and sand. The speed allows it to work faster and remove more excess material, offering a more clean-cut hole. You can also rent a gear-driven planetary auger if you need as much torque as possible for hard surfaces like rock and clay.

 

2. Grapple Buckets

Grapple buckets are another critical component for plenty of applications. If you ever need to move brush or debris from a work site or landscaping environment, a skid steer grapple bucket attachment can make quick work of the job. Typical skid steer buckets are designed for transporting dirt and don't have an extra "thumb" on the top to hold items in place. Anything oddly shaped can fall out as the movement of the vehicle jostles it free.

A grapple bucket fixes this problem by using an extra finger or thumb on the top to squeeze down and keep objects in the bucket. You can find several different types of grapple buckets for different materials, including:

  • Root grapple: With the root grapple, several tines on the bottom of the bucket dig into the ground to pull up and remove roots entirely.
  • Scrap grapple: In a scrapyard, all the little pieces can fall out of a grated bucket, so this grapple has a solid bottom. It also has low sides, so long objects can hang out of it.
  • Rock bucket: A rock bucket is perfect for picking through rocks with tines that are spaced three inches apart. You can also use it for other tasks, like land leveling, clearing and moving materials. Its design makes it great for removing saplings and shrubbery since it can spread out the dirt as it moves through the bucket's webs, leaving a clean spot behind.

 

3. Blades

Blades are used in materials transport across industries. Whether you're moving dirt, trash, rocks or some other substance, blades provide a somewhat curved surface to push things around or smooth out the material. Of course, different applications benefit from different blade designs.

Some types of blade attachments include:

  • S-blades: The S-blade is a simple, common type of blade with a horizontally straight blade that lacks side wings. This blade is good for backfilling and moving smaller amounts of materials.
  • Cushion blade: Cushion blades are reinforced and wear-resistant to push stronger materials.
  • U-blades: A U-blade is larger than an S-blade and has a slight curve to it, along with side wings to keep materials from spilling out.

In addition to these options, you can get blades with special features for coal work, landfills, reclamation and mulch. Overall, blade attachments are very versatile and useful.

4. Breakers and Hammers

If you have a lot of solid surfaces to tear apart, a hydraulic breaker can get the job done. It is necessary in many demolition tasks, mining environments and road repair activities where the rock that is being broken up is too large for a jackhammer and blasting isn't viable.

This attachment can match the hydraulic capacity of the skid steer to the breaker for consistent performance. It's easier to operate than many hand-held breakers and can speed things up significantly. Plus, they're more eco-friendly given the mechanics of hydraulics, and they create less noise. The basic idea of a rock breaker is to push a small piston with lots of force into a small area.

Different rock breaker heads can offer varying functionality. For instance, a chisel head allows your rock breaker to clear debris away. You can also find breakers for specific materials, such as concrete busters.

 

5. Tillers

A tiller is useful in a variety of landscaping jobs and farming tasks where you need to tear up the ground. You can use it to mix your soil with compost so it's ready for growth. It's the perfect tool for preparing a surface for gardening and landscaping tasks. Preparing seedbeds is one of its primary purposes.

Tillers are more heavy-duty than cultivating tools, so they can tear into harder soil for new construction. They'll pull up the soil and quickly turn it to a fine powder. You can also adjust things like the depth and rotation of the blades on some models. Some are better for working close to other structures with an offset design.

6. Brushcutters

For clearing out large areas of land, a brush hog or brushcutter is the way to go. It can clear fields and brush, even on tough terrain. Brushcutters are much more powerful than a traditional mower. They can cut through material that is several inches in diameter and reaches tall heights. Even dense, overgrown areas are no match for a robust brush mower.

A brushcutter is perfect for clearing a construction site or trimming up an overgrown landscape. It works by using a rotary blade inside a low deck, so it can follow the contours of the ground and provide the perfect cut, even on tight corners. With a well-designed brushcutter, debris won't get caught underneath it and you can adjust the height of the blade.

You can find brushcutters for many equipment types with different specifications for the work you need to do.

 

7. Forks

Hydraulic pallet forks are another incredibly popular attachment. With two long, flat tines that can fit into a pallet or underneath materials and totes, it's an excellent tool for moving things around.

Forks are common in warehouse or industrial environments, but many other industries, like lumber and scrapyards, can use hydraulic forks to get materials from point A to point B. It is a simple attachment, but one that makes work much easier for its users.

You can usually adjust the width of the tines on a fork⁠ — many times, an operator can do this from the cabin for on-the-fly changes.

8. Multi-Processors

A multi-processor, also called a combi cutter, is excellent for demolition tasks. It uses two strong, hydraulically powered jaws that can rotate 360 degrees for cutting and crushing. Newer designs have short cycle times, more power and stronger bearing protections. Some are designed for working with different materials, like steel and general industrial materials such as reinforced concrete.

A multi-processor attachment includes a cross-mounted cylinder with a speed valve to supply crushing and cutting power. Its 360-degree rotation can help you minimize machine movements, and a Cat® quick coupler system makes it simple to swap out tools.

This tool is excellent for taking down structures and tearing up materials with its variety of jaw types. It can crush, cut and pulverize, saving you time and money on additional machines and labor. It offers flexibility and power in one package.

 

9. Backhoes

Backhoe loaders are one of the machines you can use with attachments, but you can also put a backhoe attachment on other machines, such as a skid steer or track loader.

Backhoe attachments are incredibly versatile. You can use them for digging and moving materials in any number of environments, including concrete footings and utility trenching. This tool can also help you with grading and pushing dirt around for a smooth surface. Since digging is such a common task in different projects, backhoe attachments are very popular. Construction, landscaping and industrial applications use backhoe loaders frequently.

Since they are so widely used, backhoe attachments come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some are operated from inside the cab, and some have their own control scheme separate from the machinery. Depending on how quickly you want to change settings, these features can lead to a big improvement for efficiency.

10. Trenchers

As you might expect, a trencher is a tool that will help you cut through various soil conditions to create trenches. Trenches are a vital component in many tasks, such as digging out spaces for utility and irrigation systems, water lines and power systems. Maintenance crews, landscaping crews and plenty of other industries make use of trenching equipment.

A trencher aims to cut thin, straight holes in the ground with the help of teeth around a cylinder. It looks similar to a large chainsaw. Some models have large hooks on the end to help dig into the ground.

Like many other tools in this list, trench attachments can have varying chains, depths and teeth to improve their performance. If you're working close to buildings or pavement, side-shift features can help you trench next to them. These tools can be manual or hydraulic.

 

11. Rakes

Perfect for farming and landscaping, a rake attachment allows you to smooth out the soil and level your surface while getting rid of extra debris and breaking up large chunks. The attachment can create seedbeds, too, and prepare a surface for landscaping work.

A rake attachment uses several evenly spaced tines to drag through the soil and break up lumps. An operator can change the depth with side skis, and some models have a top cover that collects excess materials for easy dumping.

Rakes are straightforward but powerful additions to any agriculture and landscape setting.

12. Bucket Crushers

A bucket crusher or crusher bucket is a convenient tool that allows you to crush demolition material on-site within a small contained area. Once that material is crushed, you can reuse it right away, saving a trip to the dumpsite and minimizing your equipment needs. It's an efficient, convenient method of crushing materials down to size.

It's also cost-effective, reducing the fuel costs and labor it takes to transport materials off-site. It is similar to a portable rock crusher, but works well in tight spaces or areas where it is difficult to get a rock crusher on-site. Usually, these tools are very adjustable, and you can make them fit your project.

One aspect to look for in a bucket crusher is one with a jaw plate that is easy to replace on-site. This can help you maximize efficiency if a jaw plate needs replacing due to high-force action.

 

13. Shears

Shears are a great choice for secondary demolition and recycling applications. Shears can cut through metal in no time, allowing you to reuse it or cut it down to size for a specific project. Many applications call for metal cutting and have a low tolerance for sparks, which is where hydraulic shears come in handy. You might find them in scrapyards or at demolition sites.

Hydraulic shears sometimes have replaceable cutting edges so you can sharpen and replace them as needed. You'll find some models that rotate and others that stay straight. With a rotating model, you can reduce machine movement by moving the shears instead. Plus, some shears can lift loads in addition to cutting them.

One significant benefit of using the right pair of shears is that it can increase your cutting efficiency and help speed up your projects.

 

14. Compactor

Compacting earth is a necessary component of many job sites, and an attachment allows you to do so without an entirely separate machine. The compactor attachment can come in a few different styles:

  • Plate compactor: This version looks like a simple metal plate and is pressed into the ground to distribute vibration across its surface and evenly compact the material beneath it. That surface can include everything from soil to gravel and concrete surfaces.
  • Drum compactor: A drum compactor looks more like a steamroller, with a large cylinder that is more durable. It can pivot along with the curves in the ground, and a scraper bar keeps material from building up.
  • Wheel compactor: At a low price point, wheel compactors cover a smaller area at once with their tampered feet design. These often come with a backfill plate to smooth out the surface after compaction.

You'll find these tools used in construction, roadwork and various other industries.

Many contractors prefer an attachment over a full-fledged compactor because its smaller size allows it to get into tight areas. Both styles come in options that can offer exceptional matte finishes. A model with a higher compaction force allows you to make fewer passes and improve efficiency.

15. Magnet

A magnet attachment is essentially what it sounds like — a large electromagnet that connects to the arm of your machinery. You can activate it at will to pull up surprisingly heavy loads. The primary usage for magnet attachments is in scrapyards, where an operator can activate a magnet over a pile of materials. The magnet attracts the steel and other magnetic substances, leaving other items on the ground.

Other industries that might use magnet attachments include demolition, excavation and rail work. This tool works with a wide variety of equipment, including skid steers, wheel loaders and more. It typically has a robust weatherproof housing to hold all the sensitive electric equipment, so you can expect a magnet attachment to work through rain, snow and sunshine. These magnets come in several different strengths for light-, medium- and heavy-duty work.

When using a magnet attachment, it's important that your machinery weighs enough to counteract the weight of the magnet and its load. A certain amount of hydraulic flow is usually necessary to run them as well.

16. Pulverizer

Pulverizers make it possible for demolition workers to tear up concrete quickly and efficiently. They can separate concrete from rebar, making them great for times when you want to recycle reinforced concrete structures. They work well in secondary demolition applications, too. These tools consist of a front jaw and a back jaw, which might be stationary. They close around concrete and press together with massive force, cracking it apart.

A pulverizer is relatively quiet and connects to the hydraulics in your machinery, so it's simple to set up. Some models focus on sheer force, while others include more teeth to create a fine material output. Those teeth can usually be swapped out on-site.

 

Equipment to Use With Attachments

When it comes to adding construction attachments, there are many different equipment types you can use them with, including skid steer loaders, compact excavators, tractors and backhoe loaders. These machines are the face of versatility in the construction industry. All are powered machines with arms on which you can attach different tools that help accomplish the task at hand.

You can find these used in:

  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Farming
  • Road repair
  • Railyards
  • Scrapyards
  • Restoration work
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Shipping warehouses
  • Forestry

The configuration of a piece of equipment will influence its functionality. One of the biggest factors is the way it moves. You can have tracked and wheeled versions of these machines, with tracks providing better maneuverability on surfaces where you need high traction, like mud, sand and snow. If you're working on soft grass or pavement that you don't want to damage, a wheeled vehicle will likely suit you better.

In a skid steer loader, you may also have to consider radial or vertical lift patterns. In a radial-lift design, the arm moves out in an arc as it rises to its highest point. A vertical-lift machine lifts the arms of the skid steer straight up. Radial skid steers are best for work that happens beneath the grade, like excavating and digging, while vertical skid steers help with raised work, like moving a load up into a dump truck.

Rent Your Next Attachment From The Cat® Rental Store

Consider whether a rental attachment can help you get the job done with your existing equipment. With The Cat Rental Store, you can save even more by renting just the attachments you need. You return them when you're done and only pay for the time used.

We carry a wide variety of attachments for different equipment so you can arm yourself with the right tools every time. Whether you need an attachment for landscaping work, demolition, construction or anything in between, we can help — even for last-minute requests and short-term rentals.

If you're not sure what attachments you need, we can help you select the right options for your application. Look through our inventory of attachment rentals today or find a dealer near you to learn more.

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