December 30, 2021

Different Types of Compaction Equipment

In the construction world, compaction is formally defined as the process of increasing the density of or improving the soil via a mechanical or manual method. The purpose of this procedure is to increase soil stability and the bearing capacity of the top layer within a construction site, decrease swelling, contraction, and water seepage, prevent soil settlement and frost damage, and lessen air void content within the soil.

If you are considering renting compaction equipment, it is important to understand the types of compaction force and the various units available for different jobs. Keep reading to learn more!

Types of Compaction Force

Two types of compaction forces exist, static and vibratory.

Static Force

Static force is caused by the dead weight of the equipment atop the soil. A downward force is applied to the soil surface thus compressing the particles. Static force only impacts the upper soil layers and therefore has a limited depth. To achieve static compaction, pressure and kneading are the two mechanisms.

Vibratory Force

And engine drive creates the downward vibratory force along with equipment weight. The vibrating mechanism is commonly a piston or rotating weight combination. The compactors provide a rapid sequence of hits to the surface thus impacting the upper and deeper layers. Vibrations shift the material, thus setting bits in motion, and transports them close together to achieve the best possible density.

Types of Compaction Equipment

The various compaction equipment types used in a construction project are dependent on the work scope. There are two categories, light soil compaction equipment, and heavy soil compaction equipment:



Rammers are hand steered, and machine-powered small machines that compact small sections of the ground while delivering a force to the upper layers. Rammers are lightweight so that one individual can operate the equipment. In the case of rock compaction, a rammer can weigh two to three tons and provide an impact from three-to-six feet to crush rocks. This machine is best suited for compacting clay-based soils.

Vibratory Plate Compactor

Vibratory plate compactors are best for coarse soil like sand and compress the ground using a vibrating plate. You can request a Home Depot plate compactor rental for home use if you need to compress the soil.

Vibratory Tamper

A vibratory tamper compactor is a spring activated by a motor-driven mechanism. This machine is ideal for small areas within confined zones and can compact all soil types using vibration. Like rammers, they are individually operated and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds.


Heavy soil compactors are used for compacting larger ground sections across many soil types and other substrates like asphalt.

Elephant Foot Roller

An elephant foot roller is useful for silty soils that feature low cohesion. Due to the large width of the loaded area, this machine produces better soil confinement among the particles. The elephant foot roller features 20 to 25cm-wide flat plated feet on each drum.

Pneumatic Tired Roller

Pneumatic tired rollers feature a mounted platform on two axles with the rear axle having an extra wheel compared to the front set. This is not commonly used for soil compaction but is utilized when the surface is not steep or rough, like road asphalt. This is the ideal machine for cohesionless soils since the applied compression is distributed over large sections to prevent soil collapse.

Sheepsfoot Roller

The sheepsfoot roller has a tamping roller in the front and regular tires in the rear. The front drum is constructed from hollow steel with steel feet extending along the radial direction at various dimensions based on the needs of the job. This equipment is best used on cohesive soils due to the smaller width-loaded areas beneath the feet.

Smooth Wheeled Roller

The smooth wheeled roller has a similar drum as the sheepsfoot roller but without the feet and the back features a second and third drum (equal in width to the front drum). Static compression is applied through the drums, so they are best used for granular soils. This equipment is propelled using a diesel engine.

Determining the best compaction equipment for your construction project varies based on the job size, compaction distance, method of disposal, soil type, assigned construction time, loads on the compacted surface, depth of soil, and many other factors. For this reason, it is best to understand all details about your project so you can choose the best compaction equipment to meet your needs