Roller vs Compactor: Which Should You Hire?

Whether you need to compact your driveway or the main road having the right equipment to get the job done can mean the difference in a job well done and a project’s budget blow out. While people often use the terms compactor and roller interchangeably, there are differences in the machinery that can change the way your project is completed. From padfoot rollers to smooth drum rollers, compactors and plate compactors how do you choose which one is best for your project?

Rollers and compactors have been around in an effective way since the mid-19th century when steam-powered machinery took off. This is because the machinery’s effectiveness is based on the weight of the machine. The machine’s technology continued to evolve and expand as the benefits of compacting were discovered. From dirt roads and asphalt lasting longer under higher traffic, to pre pavement works being correctly levelled and garbage dumps compacting trash. Now, let’s breakdown what a roller and a compactor are.

What Is a Roller?

roller is a ride-on machine most commonly used during road construction to compact the various layers of materials needed to build a road. Rollers can be used for other types of compaction, such as trash compaction or compaction for parks and fields. While there are various types of rollers they are all generally defined by the build, they are the large, ride-on machine, not a handheld machine.

When a project requires more than a few square metres of ground compacted rollers are almost always the construction equipment hired. The only time they wouldn’t be used is in tight access situations where they could not fit on the construction site or the size of the space needing compacted is not worth the costs to hire a roller. Below we go through the variations of rollers available for hire.

What are the different types of rollers?

There are a number of different types of rollers, from the machine design to the type of drum. Each type has a specific purpose and a specific job to get done on a construction site. The two main types of rollers are smooth drum and padfoot. Smooth drums rollers look like their name, they are smooth circular drums designed to compact granular materials. Padfoot rollers, on the other hand, have flat wide spikes designed to push the air out of soil and clay to compact it. Other types of rollers for hire are:

  • Single and tandem drum rollers: Single drum rollers only have one drum attached to the front of the machine with standard wheels at the back, whereas tandem drum rollers have two drums, one at the front and one at the back of the machine.
  • 4-wheel padfoot roller: Predominantly used on landfill compaction 4-wheel padfoot rollers have smaller wheel sized rollers in place of tyres, giving them the ability to climb over trash piles and compact them.
  • Pneumatic-tyred roller: Otherwise known as a rubber tyre roller, they are designed as finishing and sealing rollers due to their ability to even out uneven surfaces.

What Is a Compactor?

A compactor is most commonly known as the plate compacting machine that is pedestrian operated. They’re smaller, walk-behind compacting machines designed to compact driveways and walkways. Plate compactors are also used in instances where a ride-on roller can’t go, meaning they’re perfect for tight access jobs.

Compactors are often disregarded by road construction companies as unnecessary but they are actually a very versatile and handy machine to have on the construction site. When resurfacing or upgrading a road there’s always hard to get to places, or small areas away from the main construction that doesn’t need or can’t fit a standard roller, this is generally when the project manager starts ringing around trying to find a plate compactor.

What are the different types of compactors?

There are a variety of compactors for hire but they are not as varied as rollers. In saying this they are capable of completing similar compacting jobs, from light soil and rocks to granular material. Here are the main compactor types:

  • Rammer: Used for small areas rammers are high powered compactors and are great for getting those tight access construction projects in replacement of rollers.
  • Vibrating plate: Vibrating plate compactors work better for larger sized walk-behind compacting areas such as driveways and footpaths.

Should You Hire a Roller or Hire a Compactor?

When you’re constructing a road you need a ride-on roller there are no questions about it, but having a rammer or plate compactor on standby is always a smart idea to ensure you’ve got your bases covered. Plate compactors and rammers are always a good option for smaller projects where the costs of hiring rollers are not sustainable or a ride-on roller won’t fit. For all your ride-on roller hire needs, contact the team at EPH Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. We have a fleet of wet hire rollers ready to be hired today.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.