A Complete Guide to Asphalt Millings for Driveways & Paving

Unlock the Secrets of Asphalt Millings for Driveways & Paving. Get Pro Tips for Durable & Eco-Friendly Solutions. Start Now! Build a Lasting Surface Today.

Judson Burdon
Posted by Judson Burdon on September 07
  • Asphalt millings are made of crushed bits of old pavement and repurposed so they can be used to construct new roads and patch potholes.
  • In this article, you'll get an overview on how to build a driveway using asphalt millings.
  • You'll also learn how to use it to repair potholes and large cracks.

Asphalt millings might sound like a term from a construction site, but it's likely something you've driven over countless times.

Download 5 Ways To Ruin a Paving Job

At its core, asphalt millings are recycled bits of old asphalt that have been crushed and repurposed. Picture a road or driveway that's seen better days. When it's time for an upgrade, this old asphalt is ground down, resulting in what we call 'asphalt millings'.

Not only are these millings cost-effective, but they also offer an eco-friendly solution to repaving needs. Instead of creating brand-new asphalt, we're giving the old stuff a second life.

Now, what makes asphalt millings a superstar? They're crucial in mending the bane of every driver's commute: potholes. Additionally, they are employed in various other paving projects, from driveways to parking lots.

Stick with us as we dive deep into the world of asphalt millings, uncovering the benefits, applications, and expert tips on how to utilize them effectively. 

Whether you're a homeowner eyeing a sturdy driveway or a contractor striving for sustainability, this guide has got you covered.

Table of Contents

How to Use Asphalt Millings

Using asphalt millings for your paving project requires methodical preparation and application. By understanding the process, you can ensure a smooth, long-lasting surface. Here's your go-to guide.

Worker leveling fresh asphalt on a road construction site Worker leveling fresh asphalt on a road construction site

1. Preparing the Area

Clear the site. Begin by removing any existing asphalt, debris, or vegetation from the area where you wish to pave. You can use a street broom and/or a leaf blower to get rid of dust and debris.

Grade the surface. Ensure proper drainage by grading the surface. This prevents water accumulation and subsequent damage.

Compact the base. A strong foundation is paramount. Compact the soil using a mechanical compactor to provide a solid base for the millings.

2. Infrared Asphalt Repair

Infrared asphalt repair is a unique method where the existing asphalt is heated using infrared rays. This allows the old and new asphalt to merge seamlessly.

Heat the area. Use infrared heaters to warm the damaged spot. This makes the old asphalt malleable.

Remove damaged asphalt. After heating, the deteriorated parts are removed, leaving space for the milling.

Add the millings. Pour the asphalt millings into the prepared area and merge it with the existing, softened asphalt. We recommend using an asphalt hot box when transporting your millings to ensure optimum temperature throughout.

3. Spreading and Compacting Millings

Spread evenly. Using a shovel or skid steer, distribute the millings uniformly across the area.

Compact: To create a sturdy surface, compact the millings using a roller. Multiple passes might be necessary to ensure the asphalt is solid and void of any air gaps.

4. Recommended Thickness

The ideal thickness of asphalt millings varies depending on the purpose of the project.

Driveways: A thickness of 2-3 inches is generally sufficient for residential driveways.

Parking Lots: Given the heavier traffic, a thickness of 3-4 inches is recommended.

Heavy-Duty Roads: For roads subjected to heavy trucks and continuous traffic, 4-6 inches is ideal.

Related: What is Asphalt Stabilization? Understanding Physical and Chemical Techniques

Environmental Considerations

In today's rapidly changing environment, it's imperative to make choices that are sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint. One of these eco-conscious choices can be as simple as the materials we use for our driveways and roads.

Eco-friendliness of Asphalt Millings

Reduced waste. Instead of discarding old asphalt, it's repurposed into millings. This not only minimizes waste but also reduces the need for new raw materials.

Energy efficiency. The process of creating fresh asphalt involves mining, transporting, and intense heating of raw materials. Using millings skips these energy-intensive steps, leading to significant energy savings.

Reduced carbon emissions. Since asphalt millings bypass the production phase, it leads to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Comparing Asphalt Millings with Traditional Paving Materials

Traditional paving materials, when produced, consume vast amounts of energy and resources. They also contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions, especially when compared to the reuse of asphalt millings. 

Freshly produced asphalt or concrete can also result in habitat destruction due to mining. In contrast, asphalt millings champion the principle of recycling, thus leaving a lighter ecological footprint.

Laying Out a Driveway with Asphalt Millings

driveway-repair-ultimate-guideDriveway installation using asphalt millings

The beauty of asphalt milling is that it blends the durability of traditional materials with an environmentally responsible approach. Here's your guide to a greener driveway.

1. Design and Layout

Mark the perimeters. Outline the driveway's boundaries using wooden stakes and string. This ensures you work within your intended space.

Excavate. Dig up the area to the desired depth, considering the thickness of the milling layer. Typically, a depth of about 2-3 inches works well for driveways.

2. Prepare the Base

Compact the soil. Using a mechanical compactor, press down the soil. A solid base is essential for longevity.

Lay a weed barrier or road fabric. Place a fabric weed barrier to prevent unwanted plant growth beneath the asphalt.

3. Laying the Millings

Pour and spread. Transfer the millings to the driveway area. Use a shovel or skid steer to spread them evenly.

Compact. Achieve a solid finish by compacting the millings. Remember, multiple passes with a roller will ensure a seamless surface.

4. Finishing Touches

Sealant application. For a sleeker look and enhanced durability, consider sealing the surface after a few months.

Tips for a Smooth and Durable Asphalt Surface

Regular maintenance. Periodically check for uneven spots or depressions. Address them early to prevent more significant issues.

Water runoff. Ensure the driveway has a slight gradient to allow water to run off. This minimizes water damage.

Re-compaction. Over time, it might be beneficial to re-compact the driveway, especially after intense weather conditions.

Related: The Impact of Weather on Asphalt (+ How to Protect Your Pavement)

Using Asphalt Millings in Pothole Patching

Patching a pothole and applying asphalt millings rejuvenator

Potholes. Those road blemishes we all love to hate. But with the innovative combination of infrared technology and asphalt millings, repairing them has become more efficient and sustainable. Here's how the process unfolds.

1. Identifying and Cleaning the Pothole

Spot the problem. Not all road depressions are potholes. It's vital to ensure that what you're fixing is a genuine pothole to guarantee a lasting solution.

Clean the area. Remove any debris, water, or loose materials from the pothole using a poly street broom, a power broom, or a gas blower. A clean pothole ensures better adhesion of the new material to the existing surface.

2. Infrared Pothole Repair

Heat it up. Position the infrared heater over the pothole, warming the area. This softens the existing asphalt, making it pliable and ready to merge with the asphalt millings.

Mix and remove. Once heated, the deteriorated asphalt within the pothole is easier to mix and remove, ensuring that only damaged parts are taken out.

3. Introducing the Asphalt Millings

Pour and combine. Transfer the asphalt millings into the pothole. The key here is to mix them with the softened, heated existing asphalt around the pothole. This ensures a cohesive and robust repair.

4. Using an Asphalt Millings Rejuvenator

asphalt kingdom asphalt millings rejuvenatorAsphalt Kingdom Asphalt Millings Rejuvenator

Asphalt millings, though recycled, can sometimes lose their inherent oils and binders. That's where rejuvenators come in.

Spray the rejuvenator. Before compacting, spray the asphalt millings rejuvenator over the millings in the pothole. These rejuvenators restore the lost oils and binders, making the millings as good as new. It ensures that the milled asphalt binds effectively with the surrounding pavement.

Rejuvenators don't just restore oils and binders; they enhance the flexibility and resilience of the millings. This means a repaired pothole that's less likely to reopen in the near future.

5. Compact and Seal

Roll it out. Using a vibratory roller or tamper, compact the milled asphalt. Proper compaction ensures a smooth and even surface.

Seal for longevity. Once compacted, seal the area to protect against water infiltration and extend the life of the repair.

Equipment Needed for Installing Asphalt Millings

Whether you're looking to pave an entire driveway or patch up a pesky pothole, having the right equipment can make all the difference. Here's a rundown of the tools of the trade for installing asphalt millings.

1. General Paving Equipment

Skid Steer Loader

This versatile machine is essential for transporting and spreading asphalt millings over a large area. With its maneuverability and power, a skid steer ensures that the millings are evenly distributed.

Compactor

Once the asphalt millings are spread, you need a compactor. This machine presses down on the millings, ensuring a solid, cohesive surface.

Compactors come in various sizes and types, from hand-held tampers to larger vibratory rollers, depending on the project's scale.

Grader

Before laying down millings, a grader helps level the ground. It ensures proper drainage and provides a smooth foundation, critical for the longevity of the paved surface.

2. Equipment for Infrared Asphalt Repair

Infrared asphalt repair is a specialized process and, as such, demands its unique set of equipment and tools.

Infrared Heater

The hero of the infrared method, this machine emits infrared rays to heat the damaged asphalt. The resulting softened asphalt becomes malleable, allowing for efficient merging with new pothole patching material.

Asphalt Rake

Once the old asphalt softens, an asphalt rake is used to mix and spread it. It helps in ensuring an even blend of the old and new materials.

Asphalt Hot Box

An asphalt hot box is a specialized piece of equipment designed to keep asphalt warm, ensuring it remains at a workable temperature for patching or paving tasks. 

It's especially handy for road crews and contractors, allowing them to transport hot asphalt to distant sites without it cooling down, ensuring efficient and effective repairs. Think of it like a thermal container for asphalt, keeping it ready and usable on the go!

Temperature Gauge

Consistent temperature is crucial for effective infrared repair. A temperature gauge monitors the heated asphalt, ensuring it reaches and maintains the desired temperature for optimal repair.

Asphalt Roller or Tamper

After introducing millings and rejuvenators, compaction is essential. Depending on the repair's size, an asphalt roller, a plate compactor or a tamper tool can be used to compact the millings, ensuring a smooth, solid finish.

Longevity of Asphalt Millings

Asphalt milling has become an increasingly popular choice due to its cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness. But a question that often arises is: How long do they last?

Average Lifespan of Asphalt Millings

When correctly installed and maintained, asphalt millings can serve as a driveway or road surface for about 10 to 15 years. This longevity makes it a commendable alternative to traditional asphalt. For pothole repairs, the millings can last even longer, especially if the repair is done meticulously and factors like drainage and load are taken into consideration.

Factors Influencing a Pavement's Lifespan

Installation quality. Proper preparation of the base, correct thickness of millings, and thorough compaction are foundational elements. A well-laid surface or repair will invariably last longer.

Drainage. Water is an enemy of any paved surface. Proper drainage ensures that water doesn't seep into the base. This prevents issues like freezing and thawing, which can compromise the millings.

Load and Usage. A driveway or road frequented by heavy vehicles will experience wear faster than a lightly used pathway. For pothole repairs, the surrounding asphalt's condition and the traffic over the repaired spot play a role.

Maintenance. Regular monitoring for wear or damage and timely interventions, such as re-compaction or sealing, can extend the lifespan of the surface.

Weather Conditions. Areas with extreme temperature fluctuations or heavy precipitation may see a quicker degradation of their asphalt surfaces, including those made from millings.

Rejuvenators. As previously mentioned, rejuvenators can restore lost oils and binders in millings, enhancing their flexibility and resilience. This can significantly extend the life of millings, especially in pothole repairs.

Related: 5 Parking Lot Eyesores You Can Fix Yourself

Compacting Asphalt Millings

mature-manual-worker-laying-asphalt-at-road-constrManual worker laying asphalt at road construction site

Achieving a robust and durable surface with asphalt millings largely depends on one critical step: compaction. 

This process, often seen as a mere formality, is in fact a cornerstone in ensuring the longevity and performance of the paved area. Let's dive deeper into the art and science of compaction.

Techniques for Proper Compaction

Even distribution. Before the compaction begins, it's crucial to spread the millings uniformly. Any inconsistencies can lead to weak spots in the final surface.

Layer by layer. If you're working with a thick layer of millings, compact in stages. For instance, for a 4-inch depth, you might compact after every 2 inches. This ensures thorough compaction from bottom to top.

Water assistance. Slightly dampening the millings can aid the compaction process. The water acts as a binder and makes the millings more malleable, leading to a tighter compaction.

Multiple passes. One sweep of the compactor won't cut it. Several passes, in different directions, ensure every inch of the surface gets the attention it needs.

Choose the right machine. Depending on the size of the project, choose a compactor that fits the bill. For smaller areas, a hand tamper might suffice. Larger projects will benefit from vibratory rollers that deliver consistent and powerful compaction.

The Importance of Compaction

Stability. Compacted millings create a solid surface that can handle vehicular traffic and resist deformation. A well-compacted surface ensures that cars, bikes, or pedestrians can use the area safely without causing indentations or ruts.

Erosion Prevention. Loose millings are susceptible to being washed away by rain or displaced by wind. Compaction binds these millings together, reducing the risk of erosion.

Durability. A compacted surface is more resistant to wear and tear. Whether it's the pounding of daily traffic or the natural elements, compacted millings are better equipped to handle the challenges.

Improved appearance. Aesthetically, a well-compacted surface looks smooth, neat, and professional. It enhances the overall appearance of the driveway, path, or road.

Cost-effective. Proper compaction can prevent future issues and reduce maintenance costs. It ensures that the investment in asphalt millings yields long-term dividends.

Rejuvenating Asphalt Millings

As with many things in life, time can wear down even the sturdiest of pavements. However, the beauty of this material is that it can be rejuvenated. 

With a few effective strategies, aged and weary millings can be refreshed, ensuring they continue to serve their purpose and look good doing it.

Tips for Reviving Aged Asphalt Millings

Rejuvenator Sprays

These are specialized solutions designed to replenish the lost oils in asphalt. By applying a rejuvenator, the asphalt's flexibility and moisture resistance can be restored. It penetrates the millings, filling voids and binding them together once more.

Check out this Asphalt Kingdom blog for a more detailed look on asphalt millings rejuvenation.

Sealcoating

AsphaltKingdom_starting-a-sealcoating-business-15-tips-for-success-1Applying asphalt sealer on a driveway

Sealcoating is a process involves applying a protective layer over the surface of the millings. Not only does it refresh the appearance, making the millings look brand new, but it also provides a barrier against water, UV rays, and chemicals.

Regular Cleaning

Simply keeping the asphalt millings clean can boost their appearance. Removing debris, leaves, and dirt prevents stains and keeps the surface looking neat.

Fill Cracks Promptly

Over time, small cracks might appear. Address these quickly with crack fillers. This prevents water infiltration, which can exacerbate the cracking and cause further deterioration.

Re-compaction

Over time, especially in areas with heavy traffic, the millings may lose some of their compactness. Running a compactor over the surface can restore its evenness and solidity.

Maintenance Practices for Extended Lifespan

Routine Inspections

Periodically, take a walk over the asphalt milling surface. Look for signs of wear, cracks, or any loose areas. Early detection can save significant repair costs down the line.

Proper Drainage

Ensure that water runoff is efficiently directed away from the asphalt surface. Standing water can weaken the binders in millings and lead to erosion.

Limit Heavy Loads

If possible, avoid frequent heavy vehicle traffic in areas with asphalt millings, especially if they're not designed for such loads. It can prevent undue pressure and reduce wear.

Apply Sun Protectants

Just like our skin, asphalt can suffer from prolonged sun exposure. Using sealcoat with UV protectants can shield the millings from sun damage.

Regular Resealing

Depending on the traffic and environmental conditions, consider resealing the asphalt milling surface every few years. It acts as a protective layer and refreshes the appearance.

Related: Asphalt vs Concrete: What's the Best Driveway Material?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I pave over existing asphalt with asphalt millings?

Yes, you can pave over existing asphalt with asphalt millings. Before doing so, ensure the underlying asphalt is in reasonably good condition. It might be necessary to repair any significant cracks or holes first.

2. What are the benefits of using asphalt millings for driveway or parking lot projects?

Asphalt millings are not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly since they reuse old asphalt. They also require less maintenance than other materials.

3. Are there any special maintenance requirements for surfaces paved with asphalt millings?

Generally, surfaces paved with asphalt millings require less maintenance. However, periodic inspections for wear, timely filling of cracks, and occasional re-compaction can help extend their lifespan.

4. Can asphalt millings be recycled or reused for future projects?

Absolutely! One of the significant benefits of asphalt milling is that it can be recycled and reused multiple times without degrading its quality.

5. How do I ensure proper compaction when using asphalt millings?

Use appropriate compaction equipment, ensure the millings are evenly spread, and make multiple passes in different directions. A slight dampening of the millings can also aid compaction.

6. Are there any limitations or challenges when using asphalt millings for paving?

While asphalt millings are versatile, they might not be suitable for high-speed areas or places requiring specific asphalt formulations. Weather conditions, especially extreme cold, can also influence the compaction and setting of millings.

7. What is the recommended thickness for laying asphalt millings?

For driveways and low-traffic areas, 2 to 4 inches is typical. However, for heavier traffic zones, you might need to go up to 6 inches.

8. Can I use asphalt millings for both residential and heavy traffic areas?

Yes, but ensure you have the appropriate thickness and preparation for heavy traffic areas.

9. How do asphalt millings compare to gravel in terms of performance and durability?

Asphalt millings, when compacted, provide a more solid and less dusty surface than gravel. They're more durable and resist erosion better than loose gravel.

10. Are there any specific guidelines or regulations I need to follow when using asphalt millings?

Local regulations might dictate the use of asphalt millings, especially concerning environmental considerations or specific road standards. Always check with local authorities or regulatory bodies.

11. Can I mix asphalt millings with new asphalt for paving projects?

Yes, asphalt millings can be mixed with new asphalt. This is often done to achieve specific consistencies or to make use of available materials.

12. How do I determine the quantity of asphalt millings needed for my project?

To determine the quantity, you'll need to measure the area's width, length, and desired thickness. Consulting with an asphalt professional or using online calculators can give you a good estimate.

Conclusion

We hope these answers provide clarity on the versatile world of asphalt milling. Whether you're a homeowner or a contractor, understanding these aspects can guide you to successful projects and lasting results.

We're only one phone call or email away if you have questions about asphalt millings, using asphalt millings rejuvenator, or anything about pothole repair. And if you're starting an asphalt maintenance business, then Asphalt Kingdom's Build Your Own Business Blueprint is your handy guide. Jumpstart a brighter and more profitable future in asphalt maintenance here.

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Topics: Asphalt Maintenance, Pothole Repair

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