What is Milling Asphalt? (Everything to Know)

March 17, 2023

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What is milling asphalt? If you have asphalt on your property, it’s vital that you know the answer! Milling can save you on asphalt repair and replacement costs. Investing in milling and repaving can also mean a smooth, safe surface for vehicles and pedestrians. Also, using millings can save you money on resurfacing and repaving.

Milling is also an eco-friendly choice for new or replacement pavement. With all this in mind, keep reading to find out more about asphalt milling. Then, discuss your property’s driveway or parking lot with an asphalt installation contractor near you as needed. They can help explain your options for a stunning, safe surface.

What Does Milling Mean in Asphalt?

Milling refers to removing some surface layers or the entire section of asphalt or another paving material. There are several reasons why you might choose asphalt milling for your property.

The most common reason for milling is to prepare the material for resurfacing. This process removes damaged, worn, and uneven asphalt across a parking lot or driveway. In most cases, the base layer remains. In turn, an asphalt contractor can then pour new asphalt paving material over that base layer.

Once this new layer cures and hardens, it looks and feels like entirely new asphalt. This milling and asphalt repaving process means a smooth surface free of potholes, cracks, and other blemishes. Additionally, that new asphalt layer offers a strong backdrop for fresh lines and marking.

Also, note that asphalt manufacturers often use the removed material, called millings, as an aggregate for fresh asphalt. This keeps that material out of landfills and reduces the need for new asphalt mixtures. Consequently, milling as a removal process or as materials used in new asphalt are both eco-friendly alternatives to new pavement!

milling asphalt machine

How Do You Mill Asphalt?

A contractor mills asphalt with specialty equipment designed for this process specifically. This heavy-duty equipment uses drums covered in “teeth” that tear up and grind asphalt as they rotate. In some cases, the drums are heated, which helps soften the asphalt as they work.

The milling equipment then deposits this ground asphalt into a bin. That bin usually continues to grind the asphalt, making it more pliable for reuse. Because this process uses such heavy-duty equipment, a property owner typically cannot mill asphalt themselves!

What Does Milling a Driveway Mean?

A contractor might use the milling process for a variety of paving materials including asphalt and concrete. In turn, they might be able to mill a residential driveway in need of extensive repairs. Milling removes those top layers of materials, leaving behind the base aggregate.

Next, a contractor can pour fresh concrete or a tar and chip asphalt layer over that base. This process is faster and cheaper than removing the entire driveway and installing a new one. Additionally, it offers a new surface free of chips, cracks, and potholes.

Additionally, milling refers to adding recycled materials to new pavement mixtures, as said. Consequently, when a pavement contractor suggests “milling your driveway,” they might mean adding those materials to fresh pavement.

The Difference Between Asphalt and Milling

Fresh asphalt uses a petroleum-based binder and aggregate, poured over a surface and then allowed to dry. Milling uses recycled asphalt or concrete pieces, often mixed in with fresh binders. Both offer a safe, durable surface for your property.

To choose between the two, a pavement installation contractor might note the current material’s condition overall. For instance, overly moist soil can damage that first aggregate layer so that it needs full removal. Your installation contractor might also note that the soil itself needs treatment, so it creates a solid foundation for pavement.

what is milling asphalt

On the other hand, if the base aggregate or other layers are in good condition, milling is an excellent choice. It’s also more budget-friendly and can mean less need for new materials. Filling in existing pavement with milling also means a safe, attractive surface.

Do Weeds Grow Through Asphalt Millings?

As with new asphalt, a contractor will tamp down or roll new millings. This allows those materials to solidify into a strong, solid surface. In turn, weeds and grass have a hard time growing through asphalt and asphalt millings!

Additionally, asphalt rarely needs expansion joints like concrete. This refers to gaps between sections that allow concrete to expand as it absorbs moisture. Asphalt’s more pliable nature eliminates the need for these joints or gaps.

While expansion joints keep concrete safe, they’re also famous for allowing weed growth. Consequently, they can mean a very unsightly property. To the contrary, asphalt and asphalt millings can offer a smooth, unbroken surface without weeds.

How Thick Should Asphalt Millings Be for a Driveway?

Driveway thickness depends on its usage. Heavier vehicles require more thickness, to support that weight. Also, a contractor will consider the base aggregate when deciding on how much asphalt milling to apply. For instance, an 8-inch base might only need two inches of asphalt millings. However, a 6-inch base might require three to four inches.

When deciding on your property’s needs, don’t assume that you can skimp on a driveway’s thickness. While it’s often cheaper to pour thin layers of asphalt or millings, this can mean more repairs down the road. Heavier vehicles might result in potholes, cracks, and heaving on thin asphalt.

On the other hand, investing in thick, durable asphalt now can mean strong pavement that lasts. You might have lower repair and maintenance costs over the lifetime of property ownership. That pavement might also look better, with less spalling and other damage. Your pavement installation contractor can also offer some tips and advice when it comes to driveway thickness for your property.

Dallas Asphalt Paving is happy to help answer the question, what is milling asphalt? Hopefully, we’ve helped answer that for you! Check out our other blog posts for more tips and advice on pavement installation.

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