The deck of your lawn mower is a crucial component whether you have a zero-turn mower, a lawn tractor, or even a push mower. However, the question of a stamped vs fabricated deck is only relevant to riding lawn mowers. The difference between stamping and fabricating in this context is the process and materials used to manufacture mower decks. Each manufacturer has its own approach, but stamping and fabricating are the two general methods of putting a deck together.
You might notice that some riding mowers are marketed for having either a stamped or fabricated deck and wonder what the difference really is. I’ve been doing some digging into what people say about both and will do my best to shed some light on the question.
Comparing Stamped vs Fabricated Lawn Mower Decks? (Short Answer)
The main distinction between a stamped vs fabricated deck is the build: stamped decks are quite literally stamped into a single piece of metal, and fabricated decks are made up of a handful of pieces welded together. The second distinction is what they are typically used for: stamped decks are more common on residential mowers, and fabricated decks are more often used for commercial grade mowers.
What is a Stamped Deck?
Stamped mower decks are aptly named because they are shaped by pressing steel into big molds. For the most part, these decks are made using an easier to form, thinner gauge steel. As you might imagine, it wouldn’t be very easy to stamp a deck out of super thick material.
Stamped decks are also the most common type of deck used on riding mowers. When you’re shopping around you will notice that most models have a seamless deck that was made in a mold. You might be wondering, are fabricated mower decks better? Well, let me talk about what they are and then I’ll get into the pros and cons of each.
What is a Fabricated Deck?
A fabricated deck is a mower deck made from heavier-grade steel pieces that are welded together. They tend to be a bit larger in general and are known to be very durable.
For this reason, fabricated decks are put on a lot of commercial-grade mowers. You might also find them available as an upgraded deck option for residential mowers. I noticed this was the case for a Cub Cadet stamped vs fabricated deck at least. However, this doesn’t mean that one type of deck is always better than the other. Take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each below.
Stamped vs Fabricated Decks – The Pros and Cons
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when looking at a stamped vs fabricated deck. To name a few, materials, type of use, cutting quality, and cost are some of the big ones. Let’s open up the conversation a bit more by comparing the two in detail.
The Pros of Stamped Decks
Great Suction and Cutting
Because stamped decks are molded from one piece of material, they have rounded edges that are great for creating suction. Suction is a super important component of a mower deck because it is used to lift blades of grass to deliver a nice clean and even cut. Without enough lift, you could end up with some stubborn patches of grass that need a second pass to get trimmed.
The economic benefit of stamped decks is another great upside. Since thinner material is used and pretty much no welding is needed, the cost of production for these types of decks is pretty low. Of course, a company needs some serious molding equipment, but that expense on their end isn’t a burden to the average property owner. Usually riding mowers with stamped decks have a lower price tag.
The Cons of Stamped Decks
With the use of lighter-duty material comes a shorter lifespan. Some manufacturers may use thinner metal than others, but in general stamped decks are just not as durable as fabricated decks. This means that it can be a lot easier to crumple or bend stamped decks when running over rough terrain. While that might not be a risk for everyone, it’s worth considering. Also, rust can damage stamped decks more severely. Since they’re thinner, rust can eat through them pretty quickly without proper care.
Prone to Buildup
The buildup of mud, trimmings, and other gunk is one thing that can really accelerate wear and tear on stamped decks. Rust is a big threat to mowers that have a ton of buildup full of moisture. Buildup can also lead to bad cutting quality. Hurting suction and the effectiveness of the mower’s blades, you don’t want to let your deck get dirty. Though this issue can be addressed by regular cleaning, it isn’t a very fun job to have to do.
The Pros of Fabricated Decks
The use of thicker steel and welds makes a huge difference in the strength of fabricated decks. This is a big part of why lawn care professionals and businesses opt for these well-reinforced decks. If you’re out there day in, and day out, you need a mower deck that can handle some regular abuse without getting damaged.
The strength of the deck is important to keep a mower alive for a longer time as well. Fabricated decks will outlive pretty much any stamped deck. The construction style of fabricated decks helps with this, but so does the type of material. Since these decks are made with thicker steel, rust is less of a threat. Also, if some especially persistent rust did make it all the way through the wall of a fabricated deck, it would be much easier to repair. Because these decks are made up of many pieces of metal rather than one, some simple welding might be the solution to problems that arise.
The Cons of Fabricated Decks
Fewer Height Options
Fabricated decks tend to be a bit taller so they usually can’t be raised as high as stamped decks. They can get just as low but you might be looking at a difference in maximum height between 3¼ inches on a fabricated deck and 4 inches on a stamped deck. This isn’t always the case, but is a common trend I noticed.
With more material, and more labor involved to put them together, fabricated decks are almost always more expensive. You can justify this expense if you use the mower a ton and will be able to make it last longer than one with a stamped deck. However, that all depends on what your personal use looks like.
With sharper angles connecting the corners/edges of fabricated decks, some of the suction is lost. Good old human error becomes a bigger factor when welding and fabrication is being done. While this doesn’t mean that fabricated decks can’t deliver a clean cut, it is a small downside that’s worth considering.
Is One Better Than the Other (My Opinion)
When I was researching these two manufacturing processes, I found myself wondering, is a stamped or fabricated mower deck better? In my opinion, it really depends on what you’re using them for.
To be frank, my stance is that stamped mower decks are a better choice for the typical homeowner. Delivering a great cut at a lesser price, most people probably don’t need the extra toughness of fabricated decks. However, if you have a particularly demanding piece of property, or if you make a living with your mower, fabricated decks are the way to go.