Forklifts and carpet handling

Anyone ever bought a forklift for their team, or know much about them? I’ve been trained and certified and operated one, but I’ve never bought one. It seems like a good thing to have. We have to store our carpet and field stuff in a cargo container which is a little distance from the school gym, and we have to set up and tear down any weekend we want to practice. It’s getting to be pretty burdensome to lift and move this heavy stuff all the time.

So, talk to me about forklifts or other means of moving and handling carpet and other large heavy things.

4201 also has a shipping container to store their full field practice carpet and it moved ~100’ across a courtyard every once in a while. Simply shoving the roll up unto some wheely swivel chairs worked pretty well for getting it to the container, and we had some system from there that made it relatively easy to slide the roll in. I think we had ~6-8 people and that was more than enough.
Unless you have a pretty far distance, a forklift seems completely overkill exclusively for that purpose.


For something like a roll of carpet, you’re going to have to be careful–if you need to go through doors it’s going to be annoying to drive through with the carpet on across the forks.

You may want to go the “heavy-duty dolly” route, where you (or, I’d imagine, your students for the second option here) either buy or build some fairly heavy dollies to hold carpet, roll the carpet onto the dollies, and then roll the dollies right out the door and into the container (or to where the forklift can get them). That would also give you something you could use for other field elements–stack a pile onto dollies and roll away.


We use around 3 piano dollies to move our quarter field of carpet around. Everything else we move with freshmen, or on occasion sophomores.


We do have about 1 story of elevation change between storage location and field location, and the container is not quite at ground level either. It’s slightly elevated. We also have only half the width of the container, so the rolls of carpet have to go on top of each other. Used forklifts can be surprisingly affordable. Much cheaper than throwing out your back. @EricH I was thinking of using a carpet pole attachment, so it wouldn’t be going across the forks, but rather parallel with them, sticking way out in front.

That would work. Carpet shouldn’t be heavy enough to cause steering loss.

I can’t say that I’ve been directly involved but my company picked one up a while back , I want to say 5k-10k price and about the same weight rating in lb. Light duty, mainly, and we’ve had to do some work on it for various reasons, but it does work. Just have to fill the propane tank every now and again (and we make sure the doors are open in the warehouse to prevent fume buildup). I’d probably try to find an electric unit for your environment. Possibly make sure to get some sort of rain shielding for the operator for those SoCal rainstorm nights.

Oh, and it should go without saying: Keys for the forklift go somewhere that is very difficult for unauthorized operators to retrieve them.

@EStokely do you have any opinions on this one?

At our practice field, we occasionally get to borrow the building’s forklift. We have our carpet split into four sections - sometimes we put them on the forks, although they deflect quite a bit.
Moving field elements and walls around, however, is made much easier when you have a forklift.
Is it necessary? Absolutely not. Is it nice to have? Yes.

AndyMark made a set of heavy-duty carpet dollies for transporting on and off of their truck at off-season events. Sounds like you’d need to make an additional ramp to roll it into the container, and maybe a forklift still wins, but it might be worth dropping them an email to investigate.

When doing setup in NE District, we typically have two 70+ foot rolls of carpet. Two primary means are used to load/unload from the shipping Pods

  1. Furniture dolly’s are used to move the carpet at the high schools. Getting the carpet onto the dolly’s is the hardest step, mostly due to getting hands on deck to lift. I seem to remember both a 8 foot cradle as well as furniture dolly’s are used. the next hardest issue is steering it thru the corridors. This is for both the Week Zero setup and the various district events.
  2. Forklift. At UNH, the forklift is a wonder helper to speed it from the loading dock into the arena.

Good luck

Some general questions: have you considered yet where you’re going to store it, and how you’re going to have to power it (liquid fuel, battery, etc)? Will the school be okay with you buying one and potentially storing it on school property? Will they be okay with you operating it on school property (unions, liability, etc)? Does the school already own a forklift that you could borrow or utilize in some fashion, even if it’s just directing school personnel where to move things to and from?

Cutting the carpet into smaller sections does wonders for handling - the only caveat is that you then have to tape it together again to assemble it into a full field. A 1/8 field section of carpet (1/4 of a roll) is not extremely difficult for two or three moderately strong people to move by carrying, though I would also strongly recommend using dollies instead of carrying. If you don’t find yourself with a forklift, use lifting straps to get the carpet elevated enough to get dollies underneath, and then use those straps as much as possible when maneuvering the carpet into and out of storage. If you haven’t already discovered this, having a tube or something else inside the carpet when you roll it up makes handling SO much easier. Floppy carpet is soooo unwieldy and is significantly more difficult to move, especially with a forklift.

Use dollies and cart as much as possible. Carts are safer and mean fewer trips back and forth! Putting handles on your larger field elements will help with safe lifting and transport. You could get (or make) a panel truck/drywall cart for moving and/or storing field end pieces.
If you do get a forklift, make a ton of bins that have skids on the bottom for easy lifting. If your team has a trailer, could the trailer be used to transport some of these items from point A to point B?

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If you have boatloads of money lying around for a forklift and want to use it for moving carpet, I highly recommend a carpet fork. Much easier to use, more stable, and less likely to stab holes in the carpet.

To continue with jboivin’s description, New England District has PODs deliver everything. The 70-foot rolls are strapped to the side wall one on top of the other. There’s a wood cradle in the POD too, used to roll it to/from the field area. The upper carpet gets rolled down onto the cradle. The lower (on the floor) carpet we use the straps and lots of students to pull it up on the cradle. There’s also a short “handicap ramp” in the POD used to roll everything up and down off the POD and curbs and bumps. By the second or third event we pretty much get a system going to do it.

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