The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project
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The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project

If you’re working on a hardscaping project that requires compact, level soil/ground, a plate compactor is your best choice for guaranteeing you’ll get that. Plate compactors shrink pore space between soil particles, crush small objects that interfere with hardscaping, and increase the density of the soil.

However, plate compactors come in a huge range of sizes, styles, and even uses, so looking around a bit before you take the plunge will help. We’re here to assist – with reviews of the 5 best plate compactors available currently on the market.

The Backyard Boss Top 5 Plate Compactors for 2022

  PRODUCT FEATURES  
Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor with Kohler engine - The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor with Kohler engine
  • Compaction force: 3,000 lbs./ft²
  • Compaction size: 21 in. x 17 in.
  • Blows per minute: 6,400
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YardMax 2500 lb. Compaction Force Plate Compactor - The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project YardMax 2500 lb. Compaction Force Plate Compactor
  • Compaction force: 2,500 lbs.
  • Compaction size: 14.5” x 21”
  • Blows per minute: 5,500
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Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor Tamper with Poly Pad and Wheels - The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor Tamper with Poly Pad and Wheels
  • Compaction force: 3000 lbs.
  • Compaction size: 22 inches
  • Blows per minute: 6,400
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Wen 7 HP 4500-Pound Compaction Force Plate Compactor - The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project Wen 7 HP 4500-Pound Compaction Force Plate Compactor
  • Compaction force: 4,496 lbs.
  • Compaction size: 24 in. x 17-3/4 in.
  • Blows per minute: 5,400
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Tomahawk Power 3 HP Honda Vibratory Rammer Tamper with Honda GX100 Engine - The Best Plate Compactor For Your Next Hardscaping Project Tomahawk Power 3 HP Honda Vibratory Rammer Tamper with Honda GX100 Engine
  • Compaction force: 3,550 lbs.
  • Compaction size: 26 inches
  • Blows per minute: 680
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Why You Can Trust Us

We at Backyard Boss are all about the outdoor projects – whatever type they be – and work hard to find the best possible products. We spend hours at our own homes working with products like those we recommend, researching information on those products, and experimenting and learning with them.

We perform outdoor projects daily and have decades of experience in home and yard maintenance and landscaping projects. We love our yards and our tool collections – and constantly seek to improve our knowledge and skills in using them. We research, study, and review products regularly to increase our knowledge and deeper our skills as reviewers and gardeners – learning the best brands, the right features to look for, find the best product warranties, and honestly evaluate the issues products have.

We’ve been where you are now – looking for the right choice in equipment for big, medium, and small projects around the house and home. With our experience, resources, and know-how, we’re able to give help you dig through products more quickly and find the right one for your projects.

BackyardBoss 5 Best Plate Compactors

Best “No Frills” Plate Compactor

Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor with Kohler engine
    Vibratory plate compactor with 3000 lbs. compaction force.

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Why We Like It: A powerful, easy-to-maneuver plate compactor that most folks can afford and use without stress.

The engine and build of the plate compactor are robust (well-built and durable, with some heft to it). The TPC80 vibratory plate is capable of fairly significant jobs in hardscapes, landscapes, and even roadways.

The plate compactor uses a 6 HP Kohler Command PRO CH260 engine to quickly crush and compact granular, and aggregate for laying down your walkways, patios, driveways, and paver surfaces. The compactor travels at a max speed of 79 feet per minute with nearly effortless ease with low fuel consumption.

Who Should Buy It: Do-it-yourselfers looking for a mid-range model for their surface compaction needs will find this Tomahawk vibratory plate compactor easy to use and perfect for basic jobs.

Best Plate Compactor For Budget-Friendly Projects

YardMax 2500 lb. Compaction Force Plate Compactor
    Self-propelled mid-sized plate compactor on a budget

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Why We Like It: This self-propelled plate compactor is affordable, easy to use, compact, and provides mid-sized compaction.

The plate compactor is easy to use, thanks to its compact size and transport wheels. The self-propelled machine delivers 5,500 blows per minute using the 6.5 HP engine. The machine uses a one-piece stamped plate with no weld beads, preventing rust damage and adding strength, flatness, and smoothness to the plate.

The compactor uses a centrifugal flywheel for enhanced engine control, and the OHV-overhead valve engine delivers reliable, high performance – all on a budget.

Who Should Buy It: For folks looking for decent coverage in speedy times at a budget-friendly price, this Yardmax plate compactor is just the ticket.

Best Plate Compactor With Poly Pad and Wheels

Tomahawk Power Vibratory Plate Compactor Tamper with Poly Pad and Wheels
    Cast iron plate compactor with wheels and poly plate with compact design

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Why We Like It: This plate compactor from Tomahawk Power is perfect for compacting soil, asphalt, gravel, and other materials in narrow, awkward spaces, thanks to its compact design.

This plate compactor is designed to fit into tight, awkward spaces while still providing a powerful punch of force at 3,000 lbs. per square foot, with 6,4000 blows per minute. The compactor maneuvers easily through narrow passages and in cramped spaces, crushing down soil, asphalt, gravel, and more for your hardscaping and landscaping needs.

The compactor uses a chain-driven 6 HP Kohler OHC engine and has achieved 100% compaction ratings on-field density tests and nuclear densitometers. The compactor uses a cast-iron poly plate and steel exciter box and plate with an optimized speed of 5,800 RPM and a travel speed of 79 feet per minute.

Who Should Buy It: Those looking for a compactor for use in narrow spaces will find this easy to maneuver, thanks to the compact design and attached wheels.

Best Plate Compactor For Heavy-Duty Projects

Wen 7 HP 4500-Pound Compaction Force Plate Compactor
    Heavy-duty plate compactor with robust engine offering 4,496 lbs. of force at 5,400 blows per minute

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Why We Like It: This plate compactor provides you with loads of power, intense compaction, and plenty of blows per minute to get the job done in a timely fashion.

The plate compactor provides you with 4,496 pounds of force at 5,400 blows per minute, using a 212cc engine (larger than most in its class). The compactor has easy maneuverability, thanks to the unique swing over the handle and compact design. The machine is heavy and has no wheels, but most folks report being able to use it with ease.

The machine is designed for durability at an affordable price for a mid-sized compactor with an angled combustion chamber engine, pull recoil start, and low-oil shutdown functions to protect the engine. The vibrator isolators between the welded steel plate and engine also help to reduce unnecessary vibration and thus extend the engine’s life.

Who Should Buy It: This compactor from Wen is great for folks looking to do heavy-duty jobs, thanks to the powerful engine and incredible compaction force.

Best “Jack” Plate Compactor

Tomahawk Power 3 HP Honda Vibratory Rammer Tamper with Honda GX100 Engine
    Jack hammer style plate compactor for tight spaces and lower loads - with as loads of power.

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Why We Like It: This is a small compactor with a “jackhammer” style design, allowing easy use with plenty of power.

Designed for use for retaining walls, patching asphalt, trenches, and other smaller compacting jobs, this Tomahawk Power jack plate compactor gives up to 3,000 lbs. force per square foot.

The small compactor is powered by a 3 HP Honda GX100 engine and designed for incredible balance with a lightweight design for easy use. The compactor has a lifting hoof, and loading rollers, and loads and unloads easily. Plus, it’s built as tough as the other Tomahawks and works just as well.

Who Should Buy It: This compactor is made for small jobs that still require plenty of power.

How to Choose the Right Plate Compactor for Your Projects

Flat Plate Vibratory Compactor
Image credits: daseaford via Canva

Whether you’re getting a plate compactor for use for your home projects like that new driveway or patio, or you’re a contractor getting new equipment for the biz, there are several things you’ll want to consider as you look through plate compactor choices.

Types of Plate Compactors

First off, it’s important to know what kind of plate compactor you’re looking for and what they do. The whacker plate (plate compactor) is typically made of steel or cast iron, and the compactor runs on either gasoline or diesel. The plate vibrates rapidly, compressing the soil/asphalt/gravel as the compactor runs over it.

There are two basic types of compactor: reversible and single. Most of the mid-sized and small compactors are single. Single compactors move in only one direction – but thanks to their smaller size, the good ones are easily maneuvered in whatever direction you need. Reversible plate compactors can also move backward (as the name implied), but they’re generally more difficult to control.

For most folks, we’d recommend you a single plate compactor, because they’re generally easier to use.

Style of Compactor

There are two basic styles of compactors for non-commercial use as well. The most common is the standard style with a singular raised handle. These are typically used for larger jobs like patios and driveways.

The second style is the jackhammer style – which is most often used for smaller projects like retaining walls and patch repairs.

Compaction Force

Compaction force is one of the main things to consider as you shop for your plate compactor. Most have a minimum of 2,000 lbs force per square foot, but in many cases, this simply isn’t enough.

Heavy-duty commercial compactors offer forces up to 20,000 lbs. per square foot. Generally, somewhere in between is enough for most folks. For driveways, retaining walls, patios, and similar, ideally, compaction levels will be 2,500 to 6,000 lbs. per square foot.

Additionally, consider the VPM (vibrations per minute) or BPM (blow per minute). The vibrations are what help the soil and other granules to settle in, so the vibrations or blows are equally important. Most mid-sized plate compactors that do the trick run between 2,000 and 6,000 BPM. Those with lower BPM will still do it but may take a little longer.

plate compactor in garden
Image credits: Zbynek Pospisil via Canva

Engine Power

Of course, the power of a plate compactor also affects the effectiveness of a given compactor for the job you’re looking to get done.

Horsepower is the more commonly known way to rate this, but you might see cc’s listed. Cc’s are cubic centimeters, and the best models for effectiveness usually range from 160cc to 260cc.

Horsepower (HP) is a more accessible representation of what the machine will do, though. The higher the horsepower, the stronger the power of the machine. Typically engines with 3 HP or higher will do the trick unless you’ve got some massive workloads on your schedule.

Plate Size

The size of the plate on the compactor will affect primarily the space the compactor will work on at a time. In the case of self-propelling compactors, this isn’t necessarily as big of a deal unless you’re working in tighter spaces.

Generally speaking, if you’re working on projects around the home, you want to aim for smaller plate sizes as they’ll be more versatile for your use. This will mean a bit more time working on an area like a driveway or large patio, but you’ll be more able to use these smaller compactors on retaining walls and path projects than you would a larger model.

How We Picked

As we examined for the best plate compactor options to recommend, we kept in mind all the qualities we recommend you look for in such a product. From there, we looked for the best, highest-rated plate compactors from reliable brands to suggest in this top 5 list. Each comes from a well-known brand that’s respected in the business, has high ratings, and comes highly recommended by pros and consumers alike.

The Right Plate Compactor for You

Choosing the right plate compactor shouldn’t be too hard if you keep the suggestions above in mind. Your budget, of course, should also be a consideration as you shop, so keep that in mind. The choices we found for you to choose from should give plenty of food for thought, but our top pick is the basic, no-frills option of the Tomahawk Power Plate Compactor

This right plate compactor meets all the requirements with no signification “extras” while offering plenty of power and BPM. It’s also one of the highest-rated options out there.

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