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Which Snow Plow Cutting Edge is Best for Your Business?

Semi Service December 14, 2016

You’ve got your truck. You’ve got your snowblade. Now you have one more critical choice to make before you venture out to clear the snow: Which snow plow cutting edge will get the job done?

Snow plow cutting edges are exactly what their name implies – they are the edge of the snowblade that makes first contact with the snow, cutting into it so the snowblade can direct the snow up and out of the way. They’re on the front lines of the job, tackling all the snow and ice nature can dish out, and they’re made from a variety of materials to accommodate a variety of plowing conditions, applications, and budgets.

The most common snow plow cutting edges in use today are steel, rubber, and polyurethane – or poly, for short. (Note that carbide tungsten edges are also available, but they’re well above the budgets of most plowing businesses.) We’ll focus on those top 3 types edges and examine their pros and cons, so you can make the best choice for your needs.

Steel Cutting Edges

Steel is the traditional snow plow cutting edge, for good reason. It’s durability and effectiveness on even the toughest ice or hard snowpack makes it the choice of many – if not most – plow owners. Steel edges remove snow or ice right down to the road surface. Not only that, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to rubber or poly edges.

With all that going for it, why would you choose anything but steel? Well, for one thing, it’s a bit unforgiving when it comes to plowing surfaces. Steel blades can cause damage to the surfaces they come in contact with, including driveway sealants and landscaping. Steel blades can also be loud, and while customers appreciate that you’re out in the wee hours getting their roads and driveways cleaned, they (and their neighbors) might not appreciate it as much if they’re trying to sleep. For these reasons, some plowing contracts will not allow use of steel edges. If you do a lot of highway or large-scale commercial plowing (think parking lots) – or if your area is prone to ice and hardpacked snow – steel is probably the way to go. But if residential areas are going to make up a sizeable portion of your business, you may want to consider a quieter option.

Punch options: Steel cutting edges come pre-punched; with the typical bolt hole pattern for 10’ plows and larger being a 3-3-12, or what’s called the standard highway punch.

Rubber Cutting Edges

Rubber has been on the market for a while and is a viable alternative to steel, especially if the snow in your area is fluffy or slushy, rather than icy or hardpacked. On average, rubber lasts about twice as long as steel under similar conditions, and its flexibility allows it to contour well to the plowing surface. Plus, it’s quiet, compared to its steel counterparts.

However, rubber edges are not effective on ice unless complemented with a deicing system. Even then, rubber edges may not give the “down to the pavement” results some clients demand. Plus, rubber edges are about twice the price of steel edges, so they may not be a fit for your business budget.

Punch options: Unlike steel edges, rubber cutting edges can be purchased as “blanks,” so you can drill your own holes and retrofit to your specific application. You can get them pre-punched with slotted holes so you can adjust the edge for continued use. Rubber edges also require a stabilization bar (usually, your old steel cutting edge) that will bolster the rubber and prevent tearing. Longer cutting edge bolts are also required to accommodate the added thickness.

Poly Cutting Edges

Poly edges offer several plowing benefits. First, they’re quiet, compared to steel edges. Apartment complexes, hospitals, and those on your early morning routes will appreciate that. You may appreciate it yourself, because poly edges minimize the vibration inside the cab.

Also, poly edges glide over frozen gravel, leaving a thin base layer of snow on top, but keeping the gravel intact. If your contracts include gravel roads or driveways, poly is probably the best cutting edge for you. It’s also durable and more forgiving than steel – if you hit a hidden obstacle, the poly acts like an extra cushion, resulting in less of an impact on you and your equipment.

On the downside, poly edges are not the best choice for ice or hardpacked snow. Not only that, they can cost up to 3 times as much as steel edges (but they last up to 3 times longer).

Punch options: Like rubber edges, poly edges can be ordered with holes or as blanks for retrofitting. They also require a stabilization bar.

Signs You Need a New Cutting Edge

When it comes to deciding when it’s time to put on a new cutting edge, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Some plow operators change them out every year, some change when their edges wear down, others monitor how much “life” is left in their hinge pins. For the best advice, contact your plow parts distributor.

Which Cutting Edge is Right for You?

When comparing your edge options, you have several factors to consider including ground surface, snow conditions, and contract restrictions. Also, when making your decision, make sure to compare the material grade of each blade, which can vary among manufacturers.

If you have applications that require the ice-clearing ability of steel, but others that require quieter methods, don’t worry. With a bit of elbow grease, you can change out the edges to fit the needs at hand.

Still have questions about snowblades?

Semi Service has them. We have many options for upfitting your truck, including equipment snow removal professionals from top manufacturers including WesternHenderson, and Buyers. Contact one of our representatives today, and we’ll design a package to fit your needs.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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