toconn New Reader
3/21/23 7:52 p.m.

My current home has a dirt / gravel driveway and it sucks. I'll leave a list at the end of this for anyone considering owning a home with a gravel driveway, but suffice to say I'm ready to move on. My driveway is close to 800 feet long which has made a traditional asphalt paving job too much to swallow - about $50k. But someone suggested I might be able to get recycled asphalt millings installed for more like $20-25k. I think I might be able to handle that. 


So I'm curious to hear if anyone here has owned or installed a driveway from crushed millings? How is it? Was it solid from day one or did you have to drive on it and let it heat cycle for it to compact and seal? Does it ever shed pieces of material or get loose spots? Does it bow/wave as it settles or does it stay flat and solid? Curious to hear about anything you have to say about it - also how it holds up in snowy climates and a plow blade?


The horrors of a gravel driveway:

1. Car gets dirty driving over it (muddy when wet, dusty when dry)

2. Tires pick up all the sand/gravel and hurl it into your wheel wells - especially bad with hot summer tires. One of the worst sounds ever. 

3.  Rain causes potholes & washout. Pain in the butt for maintenance (lots of work) and can cause lowered cars to scrape if not addressed quickly.

4. Plowing snow in the winter time pushes stones off into the grass - pain in the butt to clean back up in the spring time.

5. Even with diligent maintenance to address washout / potholes / drainage - will inevitably need a regrade every ~5 years or so. More expensive to maintain than asphalt.


Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/21/23 8:41 p.m.

I can't answer on the asphalt millings but a rake behind your lawn tractor does wonders for maintaining gravel. My parents drive is close to a mile of gravel and dad drags it every month or so. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/21/23 9:34 p.m.

My ex and I tried asphalt millings at our Pittsburgh house.  We lived on a hill and we got into a hefty bit of trouble when the first big rain took about half of it into the road.  As long as its flat, I can see it working.  It's really just basically stones with some old, mostly-hardened tar on it.  If you pack it really hard it might stay put, but I wouldn't put too much faith in it.

A plow will cut through it immediately.  It will never seal or re-bond.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/21/23 9:42 p.m.

Here's the thing you need to know about asphalt.  When they deliver it new, it's all hot and melty so they can work with it.  As it cools it hardens some, but the real "glue" is that the volatile, smaller hydrocarbons evaporate out over time.  That's why you're not supposed to drive on fresh asphalt for a while.  They give you a list of rules for a new blacktop driveway.... don't turn your wheels on it for a week, don't park on it for three days, don't park in the same spot for a month, etc.  When you see cracks in asphalt, it's because it has become really old and can't expand/contract anymore without breaking.

So when you get millings, you're not getting something that you can just melt and get it to stick again.  You're getting only the largest hydrocarbons left over after years of hardening.  It's not like a candle that you can just melt the wax and make a new candle.  It's like a decal  that you've taken off one vehicle after ten years and you're trying to get it to stick to a new vehicle.

Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/21/23 10:02 p.m.

My parents do. It seems no more or less prone to washing out of holes than limestone gravel. It gets black E36 M3 everywhere until after a few good rains. However, it was like $120 for a semi truck dump load vs $500 for a 10 ton little guy dump load of #57 limestone. 

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/21/23 10:17 p.m.

I had it. It was better than dirt but I suspect crusher run is better and probably similar cost. I had 2 problems with it; 1- I would get little stones tracked into the house 2- you have to turn in my driveway and that area would get tore up. 
so better than dirt but I would go crushed stone or crusher run (like 1 and 2 stone with some sort of powder E36 M3 that binds it together when compacted). Alternatively if I had 25k and it was 50k to pave it I would pave the half closer to the house. That at least keeps your house clean. Also gets you halfway to your ultimate goal. Millings don't get you closer to the final goal. 

WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/22/23 12:25 a.m.

Yeah, it's definitely better than gravel, but it gets tore up and bumpy. 

I refill my ~350' milled driveway about twice a year.  It takes about 3 scoops at the local stone place (1.5 yards) to level it back out, about $60ish.  That said it's like 2 hours total maintenance per year, so I can't complain too much. 

Yes I would prefer an asphalt driveway, but it would cost me ~30K to get that done, and it's not going to be 30k better for my life than the milled one.

I will say that it seems important to get a roller to compact it when you put it down, that seems to help quite a bit.

buzzboy SuperDork
3/22/23 12:34 a.m.

My parents did it for our quonset. It's rolled out at about 4" thick over compacted dirt. Works great. We park on it and drive on it daily. It sees plenty of rain and never snow. Gets good sunlight to bake it in. I'm a big fan. 


Photo from the day we had it laid

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/22/23 1:13 a.m.

There are different grades of grindings. Your best bet is to get the stuff from a highway job as it is better quality. Some of the grindings from parking lots or older side roads are heavily mixed with gravel and they never set up. And if it is a smaller driveway you can add some oil and go over it with a tiger torch and a compactor and it will look pretty good. 

adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/23 8:30 a.m.

My parents had this done when I was younger for our 150 ft driveway which was gravel. When it was laid down it was packed with a roller and it settled into a really tough, solid base with a rough surface and some loose asphalt/gravel on top. We are in southern Ontario so winter is a thing up here and it was pretty easy to clear with our plow but in the spring there was also some clean up where loose stuff would get pushed onto the lawn with the snow. That would get raked and tossed back on the driveway but that was it for maintenance, I don't ever remember needing anymore.

I'm not sure what the grade was but I would imagine it was pretty high, when it was dropped, graded and packed it actually looked more like a fresh asphalt driveway for the first month or so. I remember hoping we'd be able to rollerblade on it but that definitely didn't pan out lol.

volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
3/22/23 9:16 a.m.

Our driveway is dirt, and I've added 10 ton or so of crusher run to it every couple years. I discovered recycled concrete (RC6 I believe it goes by) is basically the same as crusher run, and like $15 a ton instead of $40. I've managed to fill in all the big potholes that collect rain, and for the small amount of snow we get every year it seems to plow OK. I don't notice it gets super dusty or plinks a lot of stones when I drive over it. Our driveway is also mostly flat. 

Asphalt when done right looks good. The problem is, I've seen a lot of asphalt done poorly, and after a few years it looks like E36 M3. With crush n run, it's kinda hard to screw it up. Spread it and drive over it. 

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
3/22/23 10:28 a.m.

Concrete prices are no joke right now. I got a quote to put in a 60ftx10ft slab as an extension to the driveway into the side yard and to resurface the driveway and it would have broke the bank on me. Best of luck in your search. 

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
3/22/23 12:39 p.m.

$25k seems like a lot of money for what appears to be a lateral move.  Sounds like you'll have similar surface materials.  Curtis had some thoughts on why it won't behave like asphalt but rather more like a purchased stone.

My advice is to deal with the hassle and save your money.  Or pony up for asphalt. 

Karacticus GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/22/23 12:45 p.m.

We've used asphalt millings on the 600 ft lane in to my wife's vet clinic. 

Main issue with it as opposed to something coarser is that if the traffic level is high, it can crush out to essentially sand pretty quick. 

67LS1 Reader
3/22/23 7:14 p.m.

I'm with NY as much asphalt as you can afford now. You can complete the rest in the future when you can afford it.

A buddy of mine has a marina and needed a sea wall. He put in the bulkheads and the local concrete company comes by when ever they need to get rid of left over concrete in their trucks. They don't have to ask or wait or anything that would slow them down, just dump and leave. I'll bet there's 100's of yards of concrete in the wall and now pad sections around the yard. All free.

Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/22/23 10:31 p.m.

All I have to add is to shop shop shop the price on asphalt.  My driveway is much shorter (about 120') and when I got quotes they were all over the place.

I was very close to trying millings and found plenty of folks who had good luck with them, but in the end my peace of mind was worth going for fresh asphalt.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/22/23 11:37 p.m.

One of the secrets with gravel (if you want to try it) is to get a mix.  I forget what it's called, but people often make the mistake of ordering up 6 trucks full of 2B limestone and assume it will be fine.  The problem is, they never "settle in" well.  There is nothing locking them together.  A good driveway has a mix of everything from #2 or #3 up to #411 crushed.  Around here they often call it "road bed." It's a mix of all of the above, from 2" all the way down to dust that is the size of grains of sand.  The different sizes really key in to each other and make things much more stable.  It will always be gravel and will always need maintenance, but it matters a lot what kind of gravel you get.  One single grade of gravel acts more like oddly-shaped marbles and they move all the time.

A while ago (like 20 years) I read about Canadian roads being paved with an aggregate mix (crushed granite and sand mostly) that was coated with a glycerin stuff.  I know that glycerin is used on dirt roads to stabilize it and keep dust down.  Anyone know much about it?  I do know that I drove on one that was being "glycerined" and the little bits of sand that got kicked up were very hard to remove from the fenders of my boat trailer at the end of the day.  Glycerin doesn't really harden, but maybe it does with some catalyst or added chemical?

ShawnG MegaDork
3/23/23 1:22 a.m.

I've driven on those aggregate roads in southern Alberta, nothing special.  I was told it helped prevent frost heaves.

buzzboy SuperDork
3/23/23 11:27 a.m.

Our retail store has a gravel drive/lot. Over the years we've added a few yards at a time and smoothed it out. One year we get a load of crush and run, 5 years later a truck of pea gravel, and who knows what other leftovers my dad bought. That parking lot gets a lot of use and is very easy to maintain.

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