Compactors & Rollers: The Right Compaction Machines For The Job

The Right Compaction Machines For The Job

Rollers and construction compactors have a variety of uses including: road construction paving, construction site leveling, landscaping, and more. For this reason, many different manufacturers offer a variety of different compactor and roller options for every contractor’s specific needs.

Below is an overview of the different compactors and rollers available:


Asphalt compactors – These are very common compaction machines used to compress and smooth out asphalt on roadways. The machine consists of two large steel drums which can weigh up to 35,000 lbs.

Landfill compactors – These compactors consist of large steel wheels with extruding teeth and commonly, a large front blade similar to a dozer blade. These machines are used to spread out landfill materials and compact materials into the ground as the machinery moves over it.

Pneumatic compactors – These compaction machines can be small enough to push, but can also be large enough to be driven. They can come equipped with two rows of air powered, flexible tires that overlap to provide a kneading type action to the soil or surface – which can be used to seal asphalt surfaces. Smaller versions can use an air powered compaction plate which has similar effects to compact and seal surfaces in smaller areas.

Padfoot Compactors – These machines are similar to asphalt compactors in that they consist of two large steel drums used to drive the machinery on. They are similar to a landfill compactor in that they also have extruding teeth.
The main difference is that the large drums have many extruding teeth or “feet” known as a “padfoot”. The purpose of each padfoot is to break into hardened soil and push material down into the ground as a beginning of the compaction process on a construction site.

Single drum compactors – These machines offer a large compacting drum on the front and two driving tires on the back side.

Soil compactors – These machines include a variety of equipment with single or dual steel drums, or flat steel plates, each designed to compact and level different amounts of soil.

Trench compactors – This narrow series of compactors are used to compact soil in trenches and ditches. They accomplish compaction of soil with the use of steel drums, which have feet similar to a padfoot compactor, but can also have a steel vibrating plate for smaller applications.

Vibratory compactors – These smaller machines use a vibrating plate or roller mechanism to smooth out or finish surfaces such as soil or asphalt. They can be small enough to push or large enough to ride.

Note: This vibratory compaction is available on many larger machines and is typically used for finishing the compaction process to leave the surface with a smooth, flat finish.


Asphalt rollers – These are the common machines used to smooth and / or flatten out asphalt in roadways. They use large steel rollers to smooth out the asphalt while taking full advantage of the machine’s weight. However, they can also utilize vibration to leave the surface with a smooth finish.

Sheepsfoot rollers – These machines use large steel rollers with extruding feet, each known as a “sheepsfoot” that can break hard soil and rock into the ground in the beginning stages of the compaction process.
Note: Padfoot compactors and sheepsfoot rollers are different names for the same machine.

Single drum rollers – These machines consist of a single large steel roller and two rubber tires. This type of roller is typically used for lighter compaction applications.

Walk behind rollers – Smaller machines which can be pushed; they are typically used for the finishing of smaller compaction projects like driveways or walkways.
Combination compactors / rollers – These machines use a combination of large steel rollers to compact the surface with overlapping tires using a kneading action to seal the surface.

Compactors and rollers are great for compacting soil, gravel and asphalt in a variety of construction applications. These include sidewalks, driveways, foundations and road construction site preparation. It’s always important to have the right compactor or roller for every job, large or small.


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