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Pad Foot Roller vs Smooth Drum

When determining which type of compaction you need for a project, you need to understand your options. Rollers are used extensively in various industries, such as construction, civil works, mining and more. But there are two distinct types you can choose from, depending on your project needs. Pad foot rollers and smooth drum rollers perform similar tasks, but they do it differently. Each is also more effective on different types of surfaces. So, let’s look at the key differences between pad foot rollers and smooth drum rollers to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

What is a pad foot roller?

A pad foot roller, also known as a sheep foot roller, is a heavy-duty piece of machinery specially designed for compacting surfaces. The drum of the pad foot roller features several ‘feet’ or ‘pads’, giving it a distinct, spiked appearance. These feet perform a sort of kneading action, compacting and breaking up the surface simultaneously.

The pad foot roller works best on clay or silty, fine-grain surfaces and combines weight, motion and vibration to break up and compact the soil.

What is a smooth drum roller?

Unlike a pad foot roller, a smooth drum roller features a smooth, round drum designed to compact granular materials and asphalt. The smooth drum works over a larger surface area and has terrific compaction power. Generally, operators favour a smooth drum roller when working with coarse materials. The drum’s vibration and force help compact coarse particles into the ground, smoothing the surface before additional work occurs.

When to use a pad foot roller

As mentioned, if you’re working with cohesive soils such as clay, mud or silt, you’ll want to use a pad foot roller. The kneading and compression function compresses the soil, removing air pockets and improving the soil’s density. Some common uses for pad foot rollers include:

·        Construction of dams and reservoirs

·        Compaction of sub-grade layers in roads

·        Landfills and other waste compaction activities

Essentially, it comes down to the material and terrain you’re working on, but typically a pad foot roller compacts a surface more than it smooths it.

When to use a smooth drum roller

On the other hand, smooth rollers (as their name suggests) perform more of a smoothing function. They also compact soil and materials but deliver a smoother finish than a pad foot roller. Generally, you use a smooth drum roller for non-cohesive materials such as gravel, sand, asphalt and more. The drum’s vibration helps reposition coarse materials for a smoother finish, with less focus on compressing or compacting the soil. Smooth drum rollers suit non-cohesive soils like gravel, sand, and crushed rock. Some common uses include:

·        Highway and road construction

·        Car parks and other large paving projects

·        Sub-base and base compaction in road construction

Again, the material you’re working with is the main focus here and informs your decision on which roller to choose.

Impact of weight and vibration

If you’ve already decided which roller is right for you, it’s also important to understand how weight and vibration affect performance. The heavier the machine, the more force it delivers. The level of vibration determines the depth of compaction and the soil density.

Both pad foot and smooth drum rollers offer vibration. However, all rollers (regardless of their design) are different weights. For example, Solution Plant Hire offers rollers from 2.5 to 19 tonnes. However, over-compacting your soil can have an adverse effect, so you need to choose the right weight and vibration level for your job. The team at SPH is always here to offer the right advice and ensure you get the right equipment every time.

Roller maintenance

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Another similarity between pad foot rollers and smooth drum rollers is the maintenance requirement. While the rolling mechanisms are quite different, the engines and cabs are similar. Therefore, the maintenance requirements don’t vary too much.

You need to visually check the drum for damage and keep all parts of the machine clean. Perform these checks regularly to keep your equipment in good working order. Whether you’re using a pad foot roller or a smooth drum roller, maintenance is crucial for their longevity and optimal performance. The main difference in maintenance is that the pads of a pad foot roller require slightly more attention when cleaning compared to the smooth, easy-to-clean surface of a smooth drum roller.

Need the best pad foot rollers and smooth drum rollers in town?

When you need top-quality compaction equipment, make Solution Plant Hire your first call. We offer a wide range of machinery for sale and lease, including pad foot rollers and smooth drum rollers, all fully customised to meet your project’s specific requirements. With competitive pricing and the best rollers on the market, you can’t go wrong with SPH. Contact us today to find out more.

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