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- Jul 15, 2022

What is a handheld compactor?


A handheld compactor is a compacting tool that you walk along behind and steer by hand, usually using a single handle bar or a pair of handles. Handheld compactors are also known as plate compactors

Handheld compactors are useful tools for compacting areas of material. Compacting is the process of forcing air out from between the particles within material. Compacting serves to create a more solid, level and stable surface. By removing air pockets compacting can also make material more durable as it reduces the chance of water getting between particles and eroding it.

Plate compactors use a plate that vibrates at a high frequency to compact material such as soil, gravel, asphalt or sand. The vibration of the plate not only compacts the material, it also helps the plate compactor to move. That means the operator just needs to guide the movement of the plate compactor rather than pushing it to where you need it to go.

Plate compactors can come in single direction or reversible models. Single direction plate compactors only move forward while reversible models can move both forwards and backwards. Being able to move in both directions can be useful to suit the size of the area you’re working in. Reversible plate compactors are often heavier in weight and bigger, and are great for applications like roading, driveways or foundation work.

Is a rammer as good as a compactor?

Choosing between a rammer (also known as a ‘Jumping Jack’) and a compactor is really as straightforward as making sure you’re picking the right machine for the job you have to do. Both a rammer and a plate compactor are designed to compress material and remove air pockets. A plate compactor does this over a larger area, making it a more efficient tool if you’re compacting a large space like a driveway or building foundations.

A rammer uses similar technology but rather than a large vibrating plate uses a smaller vibrating foot. Instead of using vibrations to compress the ground below, a rammer uses impact force to compress the ground. The foot is lifted off the ground and slams it back down. That means a rammer is a great tool for small footprints like trenches or smaller narrower areas that require compaction.

What can you use instead of a hand tamper?

Hand tampers are great for compacting small areas but if you’ve got a big job, a machine can make it much easier. Plate compactors and Rammers come in a range of sizes and power levels, making them a great upgrade from the hard work of a hand tamper. Plate compactors and Rammers are often available to hire from your local hire company. Your hire company should be able to help you choose the right size and type of machine for the compaction job you need to do.


Why do I need to use a compactor?

Compacting material is an important part of the process if you’re building, landscaping or creating a solid road surface, including driveways and parking areas. Compacting removes the air pockets from material making it stronger, levelling it, and reducing the risk of water getting into it and eroding it in the future.

Handheld compactors are great tools for home projects like laying paving or creating level seating areas for garden furniture. Handheld compactors are easy to use and do not require any qualifications before you can operate them. It is worth remembering that they are still heavy machines so it’s important to take the time to follow safety instructions and protect yourself before operating a handheld compactor.

Safe use of a handheld compactor includes wearing appropriate footwear – ideally steel cap safety boots to protect your feet from the weight of the compactor. Compacting can generate large quantities of dust and may throw up debris so it’s also worth making sure you have a dust mask and safety goggles. Ear protection can protect your hearing to make sure the sound of the machine’s engine doesn’t hurt your ears.

Hire a Handheld Compactor, Rammer or Roller from Allways Hire

We have a wide range of compaction tools, selected to make sure you have the right tool for your next job. Browse our range here, call the team on 06 872 6774, or email us at