Asphalt has a life span of 25 years, give or take, that’s a thing you now know. The give or take depends on the maintenance that it has received over the years. When its day has come the process of milling comes to play.

A milling machine is used to grind the asphalt, move it up a conveyer belt and then load it directly into a truck to be taken to an asphalt plant to be recycled. The same process is used to either completely remove it or only take off a portion of the top surface.

The process of milling only the top surface is in preparation for applying an asphalt overlay, which is generally 1 ½” thick. In the industry it’s called a “mill and fill”, for obvious reasons. While it looks pretty for a while an overlay is still considered a band aid. Asphalt cracks come from the foundation under the asphalt so covering them up doesn’t change the fact that it’s still failing; it just bides a little time.

When the patches, overlay, creak seal, layers and layers of seal coat won’t hold your asphalt together anymore you must accept the truth and move on; it’s time. Now’s when the fun starts. The milling machine, the trucks, the rollers, the skip loaders, etc. All kinds of big toys. Milling is widely used for pavement recycling today, where the asphalt is removed and ground up to be used as an aggregate in new pavement; reducing the impact on the environment. In many cases some of the excess grindings are used as a base material for the new road surface.

When you do get to do a replacement project you must go watch. It is fascinating to see the process and incredible to see how quickly something you’ve looked at and driven on for years and years becomes brand new. Commit to a proper maintenance program and you’ve made a 25-year investment.

My suggestion, when you contract for these types of projects be certain to use paving contractors that are accustomed to working with HOA’s. We all know that when you’re working in someone else’s home territory it can get tricky. At the end of the day, your Board and the homeowners will be happy, and you’ll be the hero.

Featured in San Diego Community Insider – July 2018