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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ellis

Your Ultimate Guide to Asphalt Milling

Asphalt milling, also known as asphalt grinding, is a process used to remove the top layer of an asphalt pavement surface. It is typically done as part of road maintenance or reconstruction projects to prepare the surface for a new layer of asphalt or to correct surface imperfections.


Asphalt Milled Road


During the milling process, specialized equipment called a milling machine or cold planer is used. The milling machine features a rotating drum with cutting teeth that grind and remove the asphalt surface. The depth of material removed can vary depending on the project requirements, but it is usually around 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 centimeters).


The milling machine moves along the road surface, cutting and grinding the asphalt to the desired depth. The removed asphalt material, known as millings, is typically collected, and loaded onto trucks for disposal or recycling. Millings can be recycled and used in new asphalt mixtures, reducing the demand for new aggregate materials.


Asphalt Milling

Asphalt milling offers several benefits. It provides a smooth and uniform surface for the new layer of asphalt to be placed, improving ride quality and safety. It also helps to restore the proper cross slope and profile of the road, ensuring proper drainage and preventing water accumulation. In addition, milling can be used to remove surface irregularities, such as cracks, bumps, or rutting, improving the overall condition of the road.


Asphalt Milling

Overall, asphalt milling is a cost-effective and efficient method for road maintenance and rehabilitation. It allows for the removal of deteriorated or damaged asphalt while minimizing disruption to traffic flow and reducing the need for extensive excavation.

Determining the need for asphalt milling typically involves a visual inspection of the pavement surface and an assessment of its condition. Here are some signs that indicate you may need asphalt milling:


1. Surface Deterioration: Look for signs of extensive cracking, potholes, raveling (loose aggregate), or rutting (depressions or grooves). If the surface is severely damaged, milling may be necessary to remove the deteriorated layer and provide a smooth base for resurfacing.


2. Drainage Issues: Observe how water drains from the pavement. Standing water or poor drainage may indicate surface irregularities that can be addressed through milling to restore the proper cross slope and promote effective water runoff.


3. Unevenness or Bumps: If the pavement has significant irregularities, bumps, or uneven areas, milling can help level the surface and improve ride quality. These issues may be caused by previous repairs, settling, or natural wear and tear.


4. Surface Smoothness: Assess the overall smoothness of the pavement. If the surface is rough, uneven, or has undulations, milling can create a smoother base for a new asphalt layer, enhancing driving comfort and safety.


5. Surface Layer Thickness: If the existing asphalt layer is too thick and adding another layer would exceed height restrictions or cause problems with curbs, gutters, or other adjacent structures, milling can reduce the thickness to maintain proper elevations.


6. Preparation for Resurfacing or Rehabilitation: When planning for resurfacing or rehabilitation projects, asphalt milling is often performed to remove the existing surface and create an appropriate foundation for the new asphalt layer or other treatments.


HSC Pavement Maintenance

It's important to involve professionals such as engineers, contractors, or pavement specialists to assess the condition of the pavement accurately and determine whether asphalt milling is necessary. They can conduct detailed inspections, perform core sampling, or utilize non-destructive testing methods to make informed decisions about the best course of action for your specific pavement needs.

Contact HSC Pavement Maintenance for a free project assessment!

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