Top 6 most popular soil compaction tools

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For every construction project where the soil will be required to support some heavy loads, one of the most important steps that must be followed in executing that project is compaction. Compaction involves mechanically rearranging the particles of a soil layer to get rid of trapped air, increase density and reduce water seepage through the soil. 

There are different types of soil compaction tools to use to properly compact the ground. Each type of compactor delivers a specific range of material compaction and is most economical in different situations. For every project, you will be required to get wacker plate hire or go for other types of compaction equipment. The following are the top 6 most popular soil compaction tools anyone would need. 


A rammer is one of the most popular light soil compaction tools. This is a simple hand-steered machine typically used for compacting small areas of soil. It can be used for soil and rock compaction over a small area. Rammers are particularly best for compacting cohesive soils with a lot of clay. 

You can go for an electric tamping rammer hire for your project. Their portable size means you can easily make use of them in small areas such as trenches. There are different types of rammers. They vary in size, brands, how they’re powered, and other qualities. 

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Vibratory Plate Compactors

A vibratory plate compactor is also commonly referred to as a wacker plate. This is another very popular light soil compaction machine suitable for compacting coarse soils with a high percentage of sand. There are different types including reversible diesel plate compactors, heavy-duty reversible diesel plate compactors, electric plate compactors, and so on. 

As the name implies, vibratory plate compactors compact the soil mechanically through vibration rather than impact as a rammer does. The area you can compact with this type of machine also tends to be bigger than that of a rammer. 

The plate area of a vibratory plate compact typically varies between 0.16 to 1.6 square meters. The machine typically weighs between 100 kgs and 2 tons. However, like rammers, they’re also commonly used in narrow spaces such as trenches where using larger equipment may not be possible. 

Smooth Drum Roller 

A smooth drum roller is a type of heavy-duty compaction machine used to compact the soil using static pressure from massive drums. Due to the size of this machine, it is suitable for compacting larger materials like gravel, rocks, and asphalt. However, they work great with granular materials as well. Smooth drum rollers are among the most common types of compaction equipment available to rent.

There are different types and configurations of smooth drum rollers. These include: 

  • Single drum roller: a type of compaction equipment with a single steel drum at the front and tires at the back. 
  • Double drum roller: this type of compactor has two steel drums with one at the front and one at the back. 
  • Vibrating smooth wheeled rollers

While both machines offer excellent compaction capabilities, single drum rollers are generally more stable because they deliver better traction than double drum rollers. 

Sheep Foot Roller 

The sheep foot roller is a variation of your regular smooth drum roller. Instead of the conventional smooth drum, the machine features a drum with projecting lugs known as sheep’s foot or tamping roller. The lugs are fixed and allow the drum roller to apply an additional pressure of up to 14kg/sq cm or more. The shape of the lugs also varies from prismatic to clubfoot, spindle-shaped, and so on. 

The design of the sheep foot roller makes it suitable for specialized purposes compared to regular drum rollers. They’re often used to break down slabby soil fragments in the pre-compaction phase of a project. They also help to break down soft rock fragments or to mix and pulverize hard soils. 

Pneumatic rollers 

Pneumatic rollers have the typical configuration of a drum roller. However, instead of drums, the machine has wheels on both axles. Usually, the rear axle of the machine has more wheels compared to the front one. This staggered design helps to apply uniform pressure on the soil to compact it. Changing the pressure in the tires helps to alter the compactive force that the machine is able to deliver. 

Pneumatic rollers are commonly used for small-to-medium-size projects. They’re particularly useful for compacting bladed granular base materials. You may also use this machine to finish compaction after using a regular drum compactor. 

Padfoot Compactors 

This machine is similar to the sheep’s foot roller but also features a tapered pad that helps to manipulate the soil before the roller compact it. This helps to deliver even more uniform soil compaction and increase the range of soil this type of roller can work with. 

The tapered pads penetrate the soil and lift it while the roller’s weight and vibration combine to compact the soil. This type of compaction equipment is particularly great when working with cohesive material with a good percentage of fine particles. 


Each compaction machine has specific pros and cons and is suitable for a wide range of projects. Before you buy or rent a compaction tool, you should consider the nature of your project, the type of material to be compacted, amount of loads needed among other factors.

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