Asphalt Milling Versus Resurfacing: What's the Difference?


When it comes to asphalt maintenance, the two main options are milling and resurfacing. Both processes have their own advantages and shortcomings, so you might not always be sure which one is best for your business.

This blog post takes a closer look at both processes and outlines the steps involved in each one to help you make an informed decision.

Asphalt Milling

Milling is the removal of a thin asphalt layer from the outer surface of your pavement or driveway. Experienced contractors use this process to repair small potholes or other minor defects on the asphalt surface.

First, your paving contractor identifies and marks the area that needs repairs. They then use a milling machine to remove the asphalt. This machine has a series of sharp blades that grind through the top surface to remove huge chunks of the asphalt layer. The grinding process leaves behind a smooth and level surface.

Interestingly, milling doesn't require a lot of equipment or man power. That's what makes this process a relatively cost-effective way to repair damaged asphalt surfaces.

Other advantages of asphalt milling include:

  • Time efficiency. Milling is a relatively quick and easy process that doesn't cause major disruptions to normal traffic.

  • Durability. The results are usually quite durable and can last for several years.

Keep in mind that the milling process only fixes the surface layer of the asphalt. If there are more profound defects, they will still be visible afterward. Your contractor may only recommend this option on asphalt surfaces that aren't too deteriorated.

Asphalt Resurfacing

For asphalt resurfacing, your contractor replaces the damaged asphalt layer with fresh asphalt. They apply a new layer over the existing surface to create a smooth and even finish. This process can repair extensive asphalt defects, including wear and tear or harsh weather damage.

An expert contractor will first identify and mark the area that needs attention. Sometimes, the asphalt expert first performs the milling process before they resurface the asphalt layer. After they remove the outer layer, the contractor will then clean and prepare the section for resurfacing.

They'll then use an asphalt paver machine to apply a new asphalt layer over the existing surface. The paver spreads the asphalt over the surface and uses a series of rollers to compact the new layer to create a smooth finish. This step ensures that the new asphalt layer stays in place, so it doesn't crack or peel.

The asphalt layer now needs to dry for several hours. Afterward, you can open the surface to traffic and resume normal operation.

Resurfacing is more comprehensive than milling since it fixes the surface asphalt layer and any existing deeper defects. Therefore, resurfacing is a good option for businesses that want to restore their asphalt surface to its original condition.

You can also use resurfacing:

  • To fix severely damaged asphalt surfaces

  • To repair a wide range of common asphalt problems

  • To ensure the longevity of your asphalt surfaces

However, resurfacing is a more expensive process than milling because it requires more man power and equipment. A resurfacing project also takes longer to complete and disrupts normal traffic flow.

The Bottom Line

If you want a more comprehensive repair solution, resurfacing is better. The procedure is more expensive than milling but is also a highly effective way to fix major asphalt problems.

If you're only looking to fix minor issues on your asphalt surfaces, milling is a more cost-effective solution that avoids the cost and inconvenience of asphalt resurfacing. Milling is also a quick, easy process that you can complete in a shorter time.

Consult with experienced paving contractors like Star Paving to understand the best option for your needs.