What Size Compaction Equipment Should I Rent?

What Size Compaction Equipment Should I Rent?

Compactors, rammers and rollers all play a prominent role at construction sites. While these machines perform a similar function, each has a specific job site application. 

A compactor uses vibrating plates to compact granular soil and asphalt. A rammer is generally smaller than a compactor and uses physical impact instead of vibration to condense cohesive or semi-cohesive soil in smaller areas. A roller, which can be a ride-on or walk-behind machine, relies on large drums to compress the material. 

These machines are available in multiple sizes — choosing the appropriate size is crucial for optimizing your project's results. 

What Size Compactor Should I Rent?

Choosing the appropriately sized compactor depends on the equipment type and the composition of the earth or soil you plan to compress. The general classifications of the available machine options are:

  • Single-plate: As the name indicates, this machine has one vibrating plate, making it the lightest and most agile compactor. Most models generate 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of force, making them well-suited for working with sand, gravel or dirt in smaller, more confined areas.
  • Reversible vibratory plate: While a single-plate compactor can only move forward, this version can also travel backward when needed. It also exerts more force, enabling it to execute deeper compaction projects like constructing driveways. 
  • Heavy-duty: These larger, high-performance machines deliver the most compaction force. They work best when compressing soil with higher clay content that is less responsive to vibrations. 

The amount of centrifugal force generated by the compactor's vibration is a more accurate machine selection criterion than its physical size. As a rule, most units can compress 1 inch of material for every 1,000 pounds of force it produces. 

Vibration frequency is another essential assessment parameter. A lower frequency of 3,000 to 4,000 vibrations per minute delivers optimal results for thicker layers of soil or other materials. A compactor that provides up to 5,700 vibrations per minute works better for thinner layers. 

What Size Rammer Should I Rent?

As hand-operated compaction equipment, rammers must be small and lightweight for easy maneuvering and transport. The size of the shoe is a determining factor when choosing a rammer, as this is the component that contacts the ground and performs the compression. A larger shoe enables you to cover a more extensive area, although the machine tends to be harder to control as the shoe size increases.

You should also determine the appropriate rammer engine size and type for your applications. Available options include two-stroke and four-stroke versions. 

A two-stroke — also known as two-cylinder — engine has fewer moving parts, which simplifies the machine's operation and preventive maintenance requirements. The biggest disadvantage for many users is the lower torque potential, which means the engine will generate less power. Fuel economy can also be an issue with a two-stroke rammer.

A four-stroke rammer offers more power potential, which is beneficial for more challenging compaction tasks. These machines have more moving parts and components, which increases their weight and the amount of upkeep. They also produce more vibration, making the equipment harder to control. The fuel economy is better than a two-stroke model, and there are fewer harmful emissions. 

What Size Roller Should I Rent?

Full-size rollers are available in multiple types and size variations. The dimensions of the area you need to compact are a primary consideration. If you're working on a larger job site, a ride-on model will increase productivity by enabling you to cover more ground in less time. A walk-behind unit is ideal for more confined spaces or when you need more compacting precision and control. 

You can also choose between single-drum and larger tandem-drum rollers. The former features a drum in the front and specially designed tires in the rear, providing more control and the ability to traverse virtually any surface type. The latter has a drum in the front and back for more power and faster compaction results. However, the absence of tires limits the machine's traction and stability. 

The Cat® Rental Store Can Guide Your Selection Process

Whether you're trying to decide what size compactor to rent or need help choosing the right rammer or roller, the experts at The Cat® Rental Store can point you in the right direction. Our extensive compaction equipment category encompasses a wide range of products from leading manufacturers, ensuring exceptional quality, performance and reliability. Many of our rentals are available in multiple sizes to meet your unique job site requirements.

Call us at 1-800-RENT-CAT or contact us online to request a fast quote today.