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Road Roller Types

Dec 13, 2019

A road roller (sometimes called a roller-compactor, or just roller) is a compactor-type engineering vehicle used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations. Similar rollers are used also at landfills or in agriculture.



Roller types


  • Rammer (bounce up and down)

  • Walk-behind plate compactor/light

  • Trench roller (manual unit or radio-frequency remote control)

  • Walk-behind roller/light (single drum)

  •  Walk-behind roller/heavy (double drum)

Ride-on smooth finish

  • Tandem drum (static)

  • Tandem drum (vibrating)

  • Single drum roller (smooth)

  • Pneumatic-tyred Roller, a.k.a. rubber tyre or multi-wheel

  • Combination roller (single row of tyres and a steel drum)

  • Three point roller (steam rollers are usually three-point)

Ride-on soil/landfill compactor with pads/feet/spikes

  • Single drum roller (soil)

  • 4-wheel (soil/landfill)

  • 3-point (soil/landfill)

  • Tandem drum (soil/landfill)


  • Tractor-mounted and tractor-powered (conversion – see gallery picture below)

  • Drawn rollers or towed rollers (were very common once, but not so now)

  • Impact compactor (uses a square or polygon drum to strike the ground hard for proof rolling or deep lift compacting)

  • Drum roller with rubber coated drum for asphalt compaction

  • Log skidder converted to compactor for landfill

  • Wheel loader converted to compactor for landfill

Drum types

Drums are available in widths ranging from 610 to 2,130 millimetres (24 to 84 in).

Tyre roller types

Tyre rollers are available in widths ranging up to 2.7 metres (8.9 ft), with between 7 and 11 wheels (e.g. 3 wheels at front, 4 at back): 7 and 8 wheel types are normally used in Europe and Africa; 9 and 11 in America; and any type in Asia. Very heavy tyre rollers are used to compact soil.

Variations and features

  • On some machines, the drums may be filled with water on site to achieve the desired weight. When empty, the lighter machine is easier and cheaper to transport between work sites. On pneumatic tyre rollers the body may be ballasted with water or sand, or for extra compaction wet sand is used. Modern tyre rollers may be filled with steel ballast, which gives a more even balance for better compaction.

  • Additional compaction may be achieved by vibrating the roller drums, allowing a small, light machine to perform as well as a much heavier one. Vibration is typically produced by a free-spinning hydrostatic motor inside the drum to whose shaft an eccentric weight has been attached. Some rollers have a second weight that can be rotated relative to the main weight, to adjust the vibration amplitude and thus the compacting force.

  • Water lubrication may be provided to the drum surface from on-board "sprinkler tanks" to prevent hot asphalt sticking to the drum.

  •  Hydraulic transmissions permit greater design flexibility. While early examples used direct mechanical drives, hydraulics reduce the number of moving parts exposed to contamination and allows the drum to be driven, providing extra traction on inclines.

  • Human-propelled rollers may only have a single roller drum.

  • Self-propelled rollers may have two drums, mounted one in front of the other (format known as "duplex"), or three rolls, or just one, with the back rollers replaced with treaded pneumatic tyres for increased traction.

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