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Roller or Compactor: Which is right for you?


1st October 2022

At Henson Plant, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality, well-maintained, and up-to-date machines. This includes a range of compactors and rollers and while some people may use these terms interchangeably, they are different machines and can be used in diverse ways for different purposes. Whether you need to compact a new driveway or roll a new road, having the right equipment for the job is the best way to get results, avoid excessive costs and have peace of mind. 

Firstly, let's understand what a roller and compactor is.

What is a roller?  

A roller is a piece of machinery that is used to compact materials like soil, sand, and tarmac. It is usually a large ride-on machine to roll large areas in big projects. Rollers are usually used to create large compact ground foundations for a range of construction jobs or projects. While these are typically used in road works, they can also be purposed for landfill or agricultural settings.

There are a few types of rollers available with varying features and functionalities depending on your requirements. 

What is a compactor? 

A compactor or plate compactor is a small hand-held machine. These smaller machines are designed to compact smaller areas, such as a path or driveway.

A compactor is a great and versatile machine to use on a construction site or for a do-it-yourself project. The main advantage of using a compactor is being able to access hard-to-reach places and service smaller areas without the need for a large machine. You are also able to move the compactor into limited-access sites, such as a back garden. 

How to decide? 

While there are both advantages and disadvantages to both a roller and compactor, there are a few key things we think you should consider when choosing the right machinery.

Cost Efficiency:

It can be easy to consider that renting the cheapest machine possible would provide the best results however if you intend to use a plate compactor for a large area then it might be more cost-efficient to hire a roller to get the job done quicker.


It is no secret that the area you need to compact is going to influence the machine you need, a larger area will benefit from using a roller; as you can complete the job quicker. Potentially costing you less money and keeping the project on track.

Site Access:

An often-overlooked area is how you are going to get the machine onto your site. In many cases this may not be an issue, especially if it is a public road. But if you are planning to use this in your back garden, for example, a small plate compactor might be the only option as you can easily manoeuvre it wherever you need it. 

Which is right for your project? 

Both Rollers and Compactors present their own advantages and unique use cases depending on your job. A Roller is a larger piece of machinery which can be great for covering large areas in an efficient way. While a compactor is a much smaller machine aimed to be used on smaller areas, such as a path or driveway, but also allows you access to hard-to-reach locations, such as a back garden.

There are a few things to consider when deciding if you need a roller, compactor or even both, the cost, size of your area and site access. Paying more for the roller might be best, as you can cover a large area in a shorter amount of time. Or you only need to compact a small area in your back garden, this is when a plate compactor comes into its own and is clearly the best option. 

Whether you're looking to hire a large 120 roller or a small plate compactor, Henson Plant has the perfect plant for your project. We are happy to offer our expert advice on which machine is the best for you. All our machines can come with the choice of being operated, for even more peace of mind.

Get in Touch here and let us help you complete your project!

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