When building a road or skyscraper, properly compacted soil is crucial to the success of the project. Compaction occurs when air is displaced from pores between soil grains as a result of stress being applied to the soil. A compact and dense building base is key to the success of any construction project. Compacted soil provides the strong base needed to support footings, foundations, slabs, and pavement.
By removing air pockets from the soil, you can improve soil stability, increase the capacity of the soil to bear the load, decrease soil settling, reduce soil shrinkage, and reduce water seepage, contraction, and swelling. Before you begin a compaction project, you must rent the right equipment. Finding the right machine for a specific job can ensure the most cost-effective and efficient outcome. Check out the most popular compaction equipment as well as its intended purpose, applications, and differences.
- Rammers: Most commonly used to compact small areas near structures, rammers compact soil with an impact force of over 4,000 pounds and a stroke rate of 700 per minute. It is lightweight, can easily be transported from job to job in a pick-up truck, and is mostly operated by hand. Many contractors view rammers as a perfect solution for flattening surfaces for cable, pipe, and other utility trenches. Unlike plate compactors, rammers work best when compacting cohesive soils. They also compact a greater amount of soil because the downward force of the plate is more direct.
- Plate Compactors: Using consistent weight and vibration to compress the soil, plate compactors are larger, heavier than rammers, and more effective on granular materials. Also known as plate tampers, they are often used to compact the ground in preparation for the construction of a driveway, parking lot, or minor road repairs. Plate compactors are still small enough to work in confined areas unreachable by rollers.
- Walk-Behind Rollers: Ideal for patching asphalt, compacting ground for pathways, and other small projects, walk-behind rollers typically feature smooth-drum or sheepsfoot designs. While smooth-drums use static pressure, vibration, and impact to compact materials such as gravel, rocks, sand, and asphalt, sheepsfoot rollers are used for compacting fine-grained soils such as heavy clays and silty clays for dams, embankments, subgrade layers in pavements and railroad construction projects.
- Ride-On Rollers: Featuring single or double-drum designs, ride-on rollers are the behemoths of compaction equipment, providing operators with drum widths ranging from 35- to 84-inches and centrifugal weights ranging from 3,400 to 58,050 pounds. Ideal for road projects, commercial and residential site development, utility installations, driveways, and large landscaping jobs, these rollers bring maximum versatility and performance to any construction site.