Deteriorating roads and parking lots are a constant problem for cities and private businesses alike.
City officials and businessmen need an efficient, cost-effective way to upgrade old, cracking asphalt. But repaving is expensive, so it’s helpful to reduce expenses where you can.
Are you interested in learning how full depth reclamation can benefit you?
Let’s get started!
What Is Full-depth Reclamation?
Full-depth reclamation is a process of repaving a road where you grind up the old pavement to create a base for a new pavement layer. This method allows you to eliminate all potholes, ruts, alligatoring, and other flaws while still making good use of all the old material.
Here are the steps to how full-depth reclamation works:
- The first step to implementing FDR on a road or parking lot is to pulverize the existing asphalt pavement with a roadway reclaimer machine. Your pulverization should be deep enough to include the top pavement plus a portion of the base, subbase, or subgrade.
2. After you pulverize and mix the old road, grade it down to your desired depth. If it’s too thick, remove some of it.
3. Once everything is graded, a stabilizing agent is added to the base to make it strong and tough. Some common stabilizing agents include:
- Portland cement
- Liquid asphalt (asphalt emulsion)
- Calcium/magnesium chloride
4. The mixture is then compacted into a firm, tough base layer for the new road and moist cured or sealed.
5. After that, the road is ready for a new layer of asphalt.
There are a surprising amount of benefits to implementing full depth reclamation instead of using traditional remove and replace paving methods. We will take a closer look at these benefits in the next section.
Alternatives to Full Depth Reclamation
If your road is deteriorating, there are options you could implement other than full depth reclamation. Here are a few things you could do:
1. Thin asphalt overlay
If your paved area looks terrible or has minor flaws, one option is to cover them with a thin layer of new asphalt. This can temporarily fix minor flaws and extend the life of your pavement. However, it does not deal with root problems like structural issues.
2. Thick asphalt overlay
A thicker asphalt overlay can take care of surface issues for a little longer than a thin layer, but it will cost you more. Plus, even a thick layer of fresh asphalt does not always deal with the cause of asphalt issues.
3. Removal and replacement
If your pavement is in really bad condition, you could completely remove and replace it. However, this is more expensive and wasteful than full depth reclamation.
If you have big potholes and fissures in your pavement, you can fix them by patching asphalt in small areas. Remember: patches are usually a different color and texture than the rest of the pavement. If you’re concerned about your fix looking slip-shod, this might not be the best method for you.
If you crunch the numbers, sometimes it’s cheaper to use full depth reclamation than patching. If the total area of full-depth patching exceeds 15-20% of the paved area, it will be less expensive to simply perform full depth reclamation on the entire area. Plus, with FDR, you get a superior result than with patching.
Note: while full depth reclamation is a great way to fix issues, the best way to get asphalt longevity is to do it right in the first place! If you’re laying asphalt for the first time, read our blog post on Asphalt Paving Dos and Don’ts.
7 Advantages Of Full-depth Reclamation
Here are a few ways FDR could benefit you over traditional remove and replace options.
1. FDR is eco-friendly
Every small action we take towards protecting our planet makes a difference, and when we take small steps to reduce the carbon footprint of large projects, the effect can be huge.
In general, asphalt can be a good option for going green, and full depth reclamation reduces the carbon footprint of repaving projects in four ways:
- It reduces the amount of materials you must haul to the construction site, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- It reduces the amount of new materials that need to be quarried for the project since you are recycling the old road. This also cuts down on energy usage.
- It reduces or eliminates the materials you have to haul off the construction site and dispose of since you reuse all the old materials.
- It reduces or eliminates the amount of materials you need to landfill.
The good news is that recycling your old pavement also saves you money while you help the environment, which we will talk about in another point.
2. Increased durability
Full-depth reclamation provides a strong, consistent base that reduces stress on the earth directly below the first base layer, known as the subgrade. The reduced stress results in fewer subgrade failures, potholes, and general road roughness.
The strength and toughness of stabilized full depth reclamation bases are simply unmatched by granular bases, which sometimes fail when the aggregates start to lose their interlock. This increased durability increases the life of your pavement.
3. Saves money
Full depth reclamation can save you money in several ways:
- Recycling old materials cuts down on the cost of new materials.
- Using on-site materials reduces fees for hauling new materials in. It also eliminates fees for hauling old materials out, unless you need to get rid of some of the old materials to retain the correct elevation for the road.
- FDR shortens construction time and reduces the amount of labor you need for a project, saving you money on labor.
- Recycling old materials reduces or eliminates fees for disposing of the old materials.
By reducing the effort involved in removing old material and replacing it with new material, you save time, labor, and money compared to remove-and-replace construction methods.
The result is that you also save money! Recent stats have shown that full-depth reclamation is roughly 20-30% cheaper than traditional remove and replace options.
4. Shorter construction time
Isn’t roadwork annoying?
It’s a nuisance, taking detours and waiting in traffic jams. And to the casual observer, roadwork always seems to take forever!
If you are a business owner resurfacing your parking lot, you know every second counts. Every minute your business is down because you are working on your lot is a minute you are not serving customers and not making money.
The good news is that full depth reclamation provides a much shorter timeline than remove-and-replace options construction options. By eliminating the time it takes to get rid of old pavement and import new materials, you cut down on your total construction time.
5. Less community impact
Besides having a shorter construction timeline, FDR roads can reopen almost immediately.
That means the project is less disruptive to the surrounding community. You can be in and out in short order and leave things ticking away as normal.
This can be especially nice in urban areas where it’s critical to maintain residential or commercial access to certain areas.
6. Enables a thinner top layer
Since full depth reclamation provides a more robust base layer that distributes weight more evenly, it enables you to apply a thinner top layer of asphalt. The reduced amount of new asphalt you need cuts down the cost of repaving your parking lot or road.
7. Allows you to widen roads while maintaining an even base
If you need to widen a road while staying on a budget, full depth reclamation could be a good solution for you. For one thing, it allows you to easily widen a road while maintaining a solid, uniform base layer, and for another, it’s cheaper than other road repaving options.
Numerous companies have been pleased with the success of widening their roads without breaking the bank using full depth reclamation.
When Is Full-depth Reclamation A Good Idea?
You can see there are quite a few perks to using full depth reclamation!
But it is not suitable for everything. When should you use it, and where are the limits?
Here are a few cases where it would be a good idea to utilize FDR:
When To Use FDR
- You need to widen a paved area
Sometimes traffic increases as an area develops, and companies need to widen areas such as roads after they are built. In that case, full depth reclamation could be an excellent option.
It would be good for several reasons:
- It keeps the road base uniform and strong.
- It keeps the road surface uniform, so it doesn’t look like part of the road has been tacked on.
- It’s a low-cost option.
- It allows you to improve the geometry and structure of the existing road.
If you ever need to widen your road or parking lot, you should consider looking into FDR as an option.
- You need to upgrade structural design
Some pavement failures are caused by problems in the base or subgrade structure. For example, surface pavement distresses like deep depressions, alligatoring, and soil stains are all signs of issues in the base structure of the road.
Simple patching or surface overlays will not fix your problems when you have serious issues like this. In these cases, full depth reclamation is probably your quickest, cheapest, and most effective option.
- Your paved area is excessively patched
If you need to patch more than 15-20% of your paved area, it’s cheaper to redo the whole thing using FDR. The cost of patching simply becomes too expensive to be worth it.
Plus, if you redo your pavement using FDR it allows you to fix any structural issues you may have, and it gives you a much better-looking result than patching!
- You need to correct pavement cross-slope
The cross slope of a road drains water off of it and helps minimize the water pooling on the pavement. FDR is a good idea if your cross slope does not function properly and you need to fix it.
- You need to increase capacity for future loads
In some cases, you may need to upgrade a paved area’s structural capacity to prepare it for heavier loads in the future. In these cases, full depth reclamation is justifiable as a great way to strengthen an area for heavy weights.
When NOT To Use FDR
Like all methods, FDR has its limits.
Here are a few scenarios where it would not solve your problems:
- You have DEEP subgrade issues
Full depth reclamation does an excellent job of fixing road structure issues and surface problems. But it doesn’t go deep enough to treat serious problems deep in the subgrade such as weak soil or pavement damage because of freezing and thawing cycles.
- There are utility lines at shallow depths
Buried structures such as manholes and utility lines can pose safety hazards during the process. When performing FDR, we recommend you lower all utilities at least 4-6 inches below the mixing depth.
Be sure to check underground structures and utilities before you select FDR as your pavement solution.
- You have drainage issues
If you have drainage problems such as saturated subgrade or inadequate systems to divert water away from the pavement, full depth reclamation will not fix the issues. You will need a deeper overhaul for those problems.
- You have fixed elevations that can’t change
Sometimes having fixed elevations (like three buildings surrounding a parking lot) makes it cost prohibitive to effectively perform an FDR. Remember, most of the savings comes from the lack of import/ export. If you’re required to export a lot of material due to fixed elevations you will lose some of those savings, though you’d still gain all the strength.
- Your base and subgrade are fine, you just have surface issues
The need for FDR is only justified when you actually need to fix a base issue. You could easily treat surface issues with an overlay or even just asphalt sealcoating.
Pavement deteriorates – and it can be a pain to keep up.
That is why numerous property managers or businessmen are using full-depth reclamation as a fast, cheap (yet quality) solution for repaving.
If you are interested in full-depth reclamation, give us a call at DRYCO! We offer a variety of asphalt and concrete services, including full depth reclamation.
Some of our other services include:
Give us a call today! We would be happy to help, and we look forward to hearing from you.
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