Padfoot Roller vs Smooth Drum Roller: What’s the difference?

Compaction equipment comes in a wide range of types and sizes, the most common of which are rollers. Rollers are used to push and compact material to create a flat even surface, for example when preparing a road for paving or asphalting. They create load-bearing subgrade soil by strengthening it through compaction.

If you need to hire a roller, one of the first things you need to consider is whether your project requires a smooth drum roller or a padfoot roller, also called a sheepsfoot roller.

Here’s a look at the differences between the two, what each type is used for, and how to rent a roller for short or long term hire for your project.

What is a padfoot roller?

Pad foot, tamping foot or sheepsfoot rollers are typically used for compacting clay and other fine-grained soils. The textured bumps on the roller assist with compacting silty clays, allowing the padfoot roller to move over the surface without lifting sticky mud or clay off on to the roller drum. These single drum units use a combination of weight, vibration and shearing motions to compact heavy soils.

A padfoot roller is best for working with cohesive (sticky) and high water content materials like clay and mud. They can be used in applications such as preparing subgrade soils for pavement, constructing new roads, compacting soil in dams and tailings ponds, compacting embankments, backfilling trenches and other heavy compaction jobs that involve silts and clays.

Hiring a padfoot roller is an easy solution to heavy compaction requirements on construction, civil and roadwork sites. If you need to roll and compact silts and clays, a padfoot roller will help you achieve this.

Depending on the type of project and the area being compacted, you can choose a single drum padfoot roller ranging in size from 1.5t up to 18t. We’ve also got a range of remote-controlled padfoot trench rollers available for rent.

Contact the team at Orange Hire for advice on the right padfoot roller for your project.

What is a smooth roller?

As the name suggests, the smooth drum of these rollers provides excellent compaction power for a range of different soils. Smooth drum rollers are typically used for coarse fill, granular materials and other mixed soils.

Smooth rollers work by vibrating coarse particles such as gravel into the ground. The soil or gravel particles respond to the vibration by rearranging naturally in size order, making them sit more neatly as the particles fit closely together. This results in a well-compacted finish and a dense surface ready for paving or further work.

Smooth drum rollers are generally best for large areas and coarser fills such as sand and gravel, and larger units are great for compacting large areas quickly. However, some smooth rollers are also great for small tight spaces such as footpaths. These narrow machines make light work of narrow access areas and small spaces.

A smooth roller is the best machine to rent if you are working with granular material like sand, gravel and sub-bases, or completing heavy-duty earthworks to increase the load bearing of the soil.

Smooth rollers and padfoot rollers for rental

Available throughout the East Coast, Orange Hire’s range of smooth and padfoot rollers are available for short or long term hire in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Toowoomba and also throughout regional NSW.

To find out more about our range of padfoot and smooth rollers for hire, take a look at our compaction equipment from well-known brands including Caterpillar, Dynapac, Wacker Neuson, Bomag, Sany and more.

Rollers available for dry hire:

  • 1.5T Padfoot trench compactor
  • 2.5 – 7.5T Smooth double drum roller
  • 8T Smooth or padfoot drum rollers
  • 12T Smooth or padfoot drum roller
  • 15T Smooth or padfoot drum roller
  • 18T Smooth or padfoot drum roller

All our rollers are readily available for dry hire, so get in touch with Orange Hire today for professional advice, efficient service and great rates.

Plus, if you are working on a project for a Tier 1 contractor and need a roller with the absolute best in safety and compliance specs, we can help. Our selection of machines that meet the most stringent safety, service and compliance requirements.

(Not to be confused with the old Tier 1 emissions ratings, these rollers have the ultimate in safety features, with complete service histories available, along with signage, placards, reflective tape, and a range of other compliance features to ensure your major projects go without a hitch – for even the most demanding clients!)

Find out more or get a price on roller hire

Contact our friendly team at Orange Hire to find out prices on smooth and padfoot roller hire.


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