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Single Drum vs Double Drum Roller
Single Drum vs Double Drum Roller
Single Drum vs Double Drum Roller: A Comprehensive Comparison
4 minute read
Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
November 16, 2023

Single Drum vs Double Drum Roller: A Comprehensive Comparison

Updated: March 26, 2024

Construction projects demand precision, efficiency, and the right equipment. Among these machines are the single drum roller and double drum roller. Because every road, building, and structure needs a strong foundation, these rollers are crucial in preparing the ground for further development. They help by leveling uneven terrain, creating smooth surfaces, and ensuring the ground passes the soil density test and can support the structure.

When picking between the different types of compaction equipment, the choice often revolves around whether a single drum roller or a double drum roller is better. Learn more about the two drum roller types below to help you make an informed decision for your project.

Diving into the Basics: The Single Drum Vs Double Drum Roller

While at first glance both types of soil compaction equipment achieve the same objective, the single and double drum rollers contribute slightly differently to a construction project. Below, we discuss the two types of rollers, highlighting the distinction between a single drum design and a dual drum design.

What Is A Single Drum Roller?

Featuring a large drum at the front and two pneumatic tires at the back, single drum rollers help compact soil to prepare the ground for building foundations. This design allows for effective compaction and maneuverability, making them ideal for various terrains and tasks. Because of the drum and tire combination, they have excellent traction and are great for compacting soil.

There are three types of single drum rollers: Padfoot rollers, sheepsfoot rollers, and smooth drum rollers. It's also common to call these machines soil compactors. Padfoot and sheepsfoot rollers have jagged teeth on the front drum, making them better at compacting materials like clay, silt, and mud. Smooth rollers are better when the project requires working with gravel, limestone, and asphalt.

Padfoot, sheepsfoot, and smooth drum rollers can have small and large drums, ranging from 47" in width to 84". This makes them well-suited for large-scale projects like parking lots, covering large surfaces with ease. The machines can come with an operator cab but it is not a requirement on many models.

What Is A Double Drum Roller?

Double drum rollers, also called tandem rollers, road rollers, dual drum rollers, or asphalt rollers, have two cylindrical drums – one at the front and one at the rear. These two drums help the machine achieve compaction on road construction projects quickly and efficiently.

Mostly used for asphalt paving, this roller design has a high compaction efficiency. Some examples of jobs where a road roller is a must-have would include multi-lane roadwork, highway paving, and parking lot construction. Similar to the single drum roller, road rollers have a variety of drum widths, ranging from 36" to 84". This allows operators to cover a wide surface area quickly, depending on the construction project requirements.

Single drum rollers and asphalt rollers are both used for roadwork projects. Single drum rollers are typically used for building foundations for the road, compacting materials below the asphalt like sand and gravel. The road rollers are used for the leveling of the asphalt.

Pros and Cons of Single Drum Rollers

While each drum roller type has its specific use case, each also comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages.

Benefits of A Single Drum Roller

Maneuverability: Single drum rollers are often more agile and can turn in a small radius, making them suitable for projects with tight spaces. The two pneumatic tires also increase traction when driving on rough terrain.

Versatility: Single drum rollers excel in a variety of terrains, from granular soils to non-cohesive soils, as long as it's equipped with the right kind of drum.

Prep Phase: They compact materials with great efficiency, readying sites before construction, such as leveling the ground for building foundations.

Size: They can be with both large drums and small drums, making them great for both narrow projects like sidewalks and large-scale landscaping projects that could require miles of land to be compacted.

Drawbacks of The Single Drum Roller

Less Power: Because they're used for compacting softer, looser materials, their engines have less power than double drum rollers.

Smaller Compaction Width: The compaction width may be narrower for maneuverability compared to double drum rollers, requiring more passes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Double Drum Rollers

Double drum rollers offer unique strengths and weaknesses that cater to specific project needs.

Advantages of The Double Drum Roller

Enhanced Compaction: Compaction efficiency is significantly increased with two drums working in tandem. Double drum rollers are also more powerful and efficient because they compact both asphalt and soil sub-bases, materials that require more compaction.

Ideal for Cohesive Soils: Double drum rollers excel in compacting cohesive soils due to their increased weight distribution and wider set of drums.

Disadvantages of The Double Drum Roller

Less Maneuverable: They might be less agile, making navigation through tight spaces more challenging. They also have less traction due to the two-drum design, rather than having wheels that provide some traction.

Terrain Specific: Double drum rollers are often more suitable for flat and stable terrains. They should not be used on rough terrain.

Single Drum vs Double Drum Roller pros and cons

How to Choose Between Single and Double Drum Rollers

To make the right choice for your project, consider factors such as soil type, project size, and maneuverability requirements. Examining the project requirements should help you determine which type of drum is the best.

A general rule is that a double drum roller would be the most efficient if the job requires large amounts of compaction in a relatively open area. But if the job requires precise compaction in tight spaces, or involves rough terrain, a single drum roller would be the right choice. It's also important to consider that single drum rollers can be fitted with padfoot or smooth drums to provide a wider variety of compaction options.

Real-World Applications: Single Drum vs Double Drum Rollers in Action

Single drum rollers have proven invaluable in several construction projects, efficiently leveling ground for the foundations of high-rise buildings. Double drum rollers have demonstrated their prowess in large-scale highway and interstate construction, ensuring thorough compaction for durable and safe roadways.


There's no one-size-fits-all answer when comparing a single drum roller vs double drum rollers. Single drum rollers and double drum rollers each have situations in which they perform better. If you're working with non-cohesive or cohesive materials, go with a single drum roller. When working on road projects with asphalt and sub-base layers, then the double drum roller will be more efficient.

We hope this comparison assists you in choosing the right roller for construction. Whether it's a padfoot roller, smooth-drum roller, or an asphalt roller, you can use DOZR to find your next rental partner.

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Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.
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