Forklift Tire Types: Cushion vs. Pneumatic

Which forklift tire to use, in the case of pneumatic or cushion is decided for you after you choose whether you need a cushion or pneumatic forklift. For more on the breakdown between pneumatic forklifts and cushion forklifts, watch our video breakdown here.

Pneumatic Forklift Tires

Pneumatic tires offer high performance on uneven and rough surfaces. These tires are often used in outdoor operations like lumber yards and are most similar to a car tire. see all the types of pneumatic tires below.

Pneumatic Forklift Tires

Solid Pneumatic

You would choose this option if you want to have your tires last the longest and you’re OK with a bumpier ride. The solid part in a solid pneumatic tire means that the tire is made from solid rubber. The solid tires wear the longest out of all the pneumatic tires but they have no “give” and offer the least comfortable ride. There is no possibility of getting a flat, but because these tires are treaded, most likely, one day down the line, chunking will occur. 


Foam-Filled Pneumatic

You would choose this option if you like the longevity of solid pneumatic tires but you want to provide your operators with a smoother ride than a solid pneumatic provides. These tires are filled with a thick gel-like foam that (if punctured) will fill holes until the tire can be replaced. Depending on the size of the puncture, you may be able to ride on the tires for a while. These tires are the second least expensive option. Foam-filled tires wear not quite as long as solid pneumatic tires and offer a smoother ride compared to solid pneumatic tires. Due to the tires being treaded. most likely, one day down the line, chunking will occur.

Air Pneumatics

You would choose this option if you want to provide your operators with the smoothest ride and you are short-term budget conscious. Air pneumatic tires are the least expensive of the forklift tire options and they offer the smoothest ride. They are; however, subject to flats if punctured and because of that can offer the largest long-term expense due to often replacement. They wear the quickest of the tire options as well. They aren’t really subject to heavy chunking as the tire would more likely go flat before chunking.

Non-Marking Solid

You would choose this option if you want to keep your warehouse floor mark-free but need a pneumatic forklift. This is the rarest of the pneumatic tire options but it does exist. Since in most cases, pneumatic forklifts are used outdoors, unless you wash your tires after coming back inside, one day your operators are bound to pick something up and get it stuck in the tire which can turn them into marking tires. The solid part in solid pneumatic tires means that the tire is made from solid rubber. The solid tires wear the longest out of all the pneumatic tires but they have no “give” and offer the least comfortable ride. There is no possibility of getting a flat, but because these tires are treaded, most likely, one day down the line, chunking will occur. Non-Marking tires are more expensive than black or gray marking tires and wear faster but they won’t mark up your floor. 

Cushion Forklift Tires

Cushion tires perform the best when on smooth surface applications like in warehouses or on loading docks. These tires are made of smooth solid rubber and are fitted around metal bands. Cushion tires offer superior performance in small spaces thanks to their smaller turn radius. 

Cushion Forklift Tires

Non-Marking Smooth

You would choose this option if you don’t want to leave marks on your warehouse floor and if you are staying indoors in a dry environment. Smooth tires wear longer and have a lower risk of chunking compared to treaded tires. Non-Marking tires are more expensive than black or gray marking tires and wear faster but they won’t mark up your floor.

Marking Smooth

You would choose this option if you’re OK with leaving marks on your warehouse floor and if you are staying indoors in a dry environment. Again, the smooth tires wear longer and have a lower risk of chunking compared to treaded tires. Marking tires are less expensive than black or gray marking tires and they wear slower but they will leave marks on your floor.

Non-Marking Treaded

You would choose this option if you don’t want to leave marks on your warehouse floor and if your application calls for going outside (on paved surfaces only) or you are working in an environment where the tires can get wet. Treaded tires wear faster than smooth ones, and have a higher risk of chunking compared to smooth tires but the treads provide needed stability for outdoor and/or wet environments. Non-Marking tires are more expensive than black or gray marking tires and wear faster but they won’t mark up your floor.

Marking Treaded

You would choose this final option if you’re OK with leaving marks on your warehouse floor and if your application calls for going outside (on paved surfaces only) or you are working in an environment where the tires can get wet. Treaded tires wear faster than smooth ones, and have a higher risk of chunking compared to smooth tires but the treads provide needed stability for outdoor and/or wet environments. The marking tires are less expensive than non-marking tires and wear slower.