Contact details

Customized Project Support

Central Dispatch\ 559.705.2444

[email protected]

Mon – Fri: 7:00am – 5:00pm PST

Sat – Sun: Closed

CALL US 559.705.2444

Your Guide to the Common Types of Rollers Used in Construction

24 February | 900 views

The road roller is an essential type of equipment for constructing roads and foundations. It uses its own weight to level and compress the soil, asphalt, concrete, gravel, and other materials. Road rollers tend to be more effective if they weigh more. For this reason, a road roller can weigh several tons.


The primary purpose of rollers is to ensure a solid, stable, and smooth foundation for construction projects. The compaction of surface materials is critical to preventing shifting, sinking, or crumbling that may cause problems in the structure to be built.

How well a roller compresses and levels surface materials significantly affects how well a road or foundation will hold up through the seasons.

Many types of rollers are available on the market, each with their own ideal applications. Keep reading to learn about them and determine which types of rollers are best for your needs.

Common Types of Rollers

Cylindrical Rollers

These are basic types of rollers that you push forward manually. Cylindrical rollers typically have a single drum. They are compact and made of concrete, iron, or steel.

They only exert a ground pressure of approximately seven kg/cm², so they’re ideal for small projects. You’ll likely find a cylindrical roller lacking in power and compression ability for medium-scale and large-scale projects. Cylindrical rollers are best for compressing stone or other materials into a surface that is already flat.  

Grid Rollers

This type of roller features a heavy steel cylindrical surface. The grid roller gets its name from the network of steel bars that form a grid with square holes. It may be ballasted with concrete blocks.

Grid rollers are typically towed. They deliver high-contact pressure but minimal kneading, making them best for breaking weathered rocks and compacting coarse soils. Grid rollers are not recommended for soils with a lot of clay or silt content and uniform soils. They can exert a ground pressure of about 15 kg/cm² to 70 kg/cm².

Pneumatic Rollers

The pneumatic roller or pneumatic tired roller is a ride-on piece of equipment with four to six rows of rubber tires in its front or rear. This type of roller can apply up to 7 kg/c cm² of ground pressure uniformly throughout its width. Additionally, it delivers a coverage area of about 80%.

Pneumatic rollers are typically used for compacting asphalt and aggregates. It’s possible to add or remove ballast packages to improve their efficiency. You can use pneumatic rollers in road construction projects. They’re also ideal for compacting cold-laid bituminous pavements and closely graded sandy soils.

Sheepsfoot Rollers

Also called “tamping rollers,” these feature one or two drums with many rectangular protrusions or “feet,” hence “sheepsfoot.” A sheepfoot roller’s general coverage area is approximately 8% to 12%. The area covered by each “foot” can range from 30 cm² to 80 cm². For complete coverage, you’ll likely need 10 to 20 passes.

Sheepsfoot rollers are commonly used to compact heavy and silty clays as well as other types of cohesive soils. This equipment is not recommended for soils with a large amount of sand content.

You can increase the weight of a sheepsfoot roller’s drum or drums by ballasting them with sand or filling them with water. It is also possible to install steel sections for more effective compaction.

Static Rollers

One of the most commonly used heavy equipment rollers, the static roller provides 100% coverage on the base and a smooth finish on the surface. Static rollers are generally used to compact asphalt and other bituminous materials, as well as soil.

A static roller comes in two types: double-drum and single-drum. While a double-drum static roller is ideal for flat or gradual surfaces, a single-drum roller is best for projects in tight spaces. This is because of their smaller size. Both the single-drum and double-drum heavy equipment roller can be used to prepare foundations, sidewalks, and highways.

Vibratory Rollers

The vibratory roller is equipped with one or two smooth steel wheels. It looks similar to static rollers, with one main difference – vibratory rollers have a unique component inside them that generates vibrations as they flatten and compact surfaces. The vibrating feature allows the vibratory roller to compress soil and other materials deep beneath the ground’s surface.

Vibratory rollers are used to compact materials such as asphalt, gravel, concrete, and crushed rock. The vibration they produce helps reduce the pockets between pieces of material, helping improve the stability of the ground. This helps reduce the risk of damage to the structure that will be placed on the surface.

Some Factors to Consider When Choosing a Road Roller for Your Project

Road rollers differ in terms of capabilities and suitability for specific applications. Before you purchase or rent a road or construction roller, consider the following factors.

The Size of the Area to Be Compacted

One of the most important considerations when choosing among the types of rollers available is the size of the project you’re taking on. For instance, if you’re working on big construction sites, invest in a double-drum road roller. Meanwhile, if the project is in a tight space, you’ll be better served by a smaller road roller that’s easier to maneuver.

Small projects that require leveling and compaction, like residential driveways and village roads, can be handled adequately by single-drum roller. If you need help determining which type of construction roller is best for your needs, consider talking to a company that supplies or rents out this type of equipment so they can advise you.

The Type of Project

Will you be working on a mostly flat surface, or will you be compacting angled spaces? Are you prepping a construction site for a foundation, a driveway, or a highway? These are just some questions to ask yourself before purchasing or renting a road roller.

For instance, single-drum rollers have better traction than double-drum and work well on sloping surfaces. On the other hand, road rollers with more power are best for lengthy projects that require you to work on large areas.

The Type of Surface

Knowing the type of materials you will be leveling and compacting is critical. Otherwise, you may choose a roller that functions poorly on the desired surface.

Before shopping for a roller, check the soil type first and determine whether it’s granular (loose) or cohesive. You can then choose a road roller type that works best on the kind of soil you’ll be compacting.

Some construction sites will have different types of soil. Some road rollers can work on multiple kinds of soil. However, you might need to buy or rent several types of rollers to complete the job.

Renting vs. Buying a Roller: What’s Best for You?

Unless you own a construction company and frequently take on projects that require the use of a roller or heavy equipment, you are better off renting than buying. A brand-new roller can cost several thousands of dollars. On top of the upfront price, you’ll also need to factor in how much it would cost to get your roller/heavy equipment serviced.

You can cut costs if you have staff knowledgeable in the maintenance of your roller, like heavy equipment technicians. Otherwise, you’ll need an outside expert to ensure your roller remains in excellent running condition. This helps prevent heavy equipment roller breakdowns that could jeopardize the timeliness and quality of your construction project.

On the other hand, renting a roller or heavy equipment means you won’t have to worry about huge upfront costs, maintenance fees, and other pitfalls of buying your own. You can augment your existing fleet whenever you get a project that requires it, helping you meet deadlines while saving you money. Moreover, some rental providers also offer subcontracting services, which are helpful when you need extra people for your projects.

If you already have a roller, you’ll find that renting another one is helpful when your own equipment breaks down. Roller rentals are an on-demand resource that can help get you out of a tight spot and help ensure that you meet your responsibilities to your clients.

However, when renting a road roller, choose a reputable company. This helps ensure that the equipment you rent is properly serviced, so you don’t have to deal with malfunctioning rollers.

Get Your Road Rollers From a Trusted Equipment Rental Group

National Dispatching is a full-service equipment rental group serving the construction industry. Our services are geared toward contractors of any size throughout California.

Apart from equipment rentals, we offer a wide range of services to help our clients complete their projects correctly and on time. These include site security subcontracting, materials transport, specialty hauling, fleet maintenance, and service, as well as saw-cutting and coring.

To learn more about National Dispatching and our services, feel free to get in touch. A member of our team will reach out to you as soon as possible.

Service territory via our qualified partner network

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming