Lay the foundation for a quality result by learning which compaction equipment to use when.
Whether you’re backfilling a trench, paving a road, putting in a walkway or executing foundation work, you’ll need the right piece of compaction equipment to do the job well and prevent erosion, flooding and instability. Discover four popular compaction equipment options and their applications and benefits.
Ride-on rollers are used to compact large areas and work well for:
- Parking lots
- Whole construction sites
Single-drum roller vs. double-drum roller
The size and type of project will determine whether a single-drum or double-drum ride-on roller is best. Double-drum rollers have less traction because they lack wheels and roll on the drums only. That means they’re better for relatively simple, flat jobs, such as compressing asphalt on a road. Single-drum rollers have wheels in addition to a drum. The wheels give them better maneuverability and traction, so they’re suitable for a wider variety of job sites.
Smooth drum roller vs. padfoot drum roller
Most ride-on rollers come standard with a smooth drum. These drums are designed for granular soils such as sand and gravel.
If you’re compacting a cohesive soil such as silt or wet or heavy clay, swap the smooth drum for a padfoot drum. A padfoot drum roller, also called a sheepsfoot drum roller, has multiple protrusions, or “feet,” built in. These “feet” effectively kneed the soil, wringing air and moisture out of it for faster, better compaction.
Rammers work the soil in two ways: They use impact and vibration, delivering thousands of pounds of force. They work well if you need to deeply compact soil or you’re working with thicker layers of soil and need a compactor that can penetrate greater depths. Rammers should be used on moist, cohesive soils. They can also be used to compress patches of asphalt.
Rammers are smaller than other compaction equipment, so they’re perfect for small spaces, such as trenches, where other compaction equipment may not fit. They’re also used for more precise work, such as compacting around pipes or a foundation.
Plate compactors use vibration to compact soil by bringing the soil particles closer together. They are designed to compact granular soil like sand, not cohesive soil. Since plate compactors are generally wider and easier to use than rammers, they can be used on bigger jobs, like driveways.
Oftentimes, a job will require both a rammer and a plate compactor. In trenches with cohesive soil, a rammer can be used to compress earth within the trench, and a plate compactor can be used on the top layer of more granular soil.
Walk-behind rollers are similar to ride-on rollers but are operated from behind. They’re designed to be used in narrow work areas and are convenient for:
- Shoulders, sidewalks and bike paths
Rollers with smooth drums are used for granular soils or asphalt, while rollers with padfoot drums are used for cohesive soils. A walk-behind trench compaction roller with a padfoot drum is ideal for compaction of heavy, cohesive soils and clay in utility or pipeline trenches, reinstatement jobs and on construction sites.
Many walk-behind rollers come with two drums. The front roller preps the site and the second roller finishes the compaction, all in one pass.