How to Use Recycled Tires as Construction Material

How to Use Recycled Tires as Construction Material

Recycled tires can be a versatile and environmentally friendly construction material. There are several ways to reuse old tires in building projects. This article will examine the benefits of using recycled tires in construction and provide a guide on how to use them effectively.

Benefits of Using Recycled Tires in Construction

Using recycled tires for construction has many advantages:

  • Saves landfill space. There are millions of scrap tires discarded every year. Reusing them reduces waste and the need for more landfills.

  • Prevents mosquito breeding. Stagnant water collects inside tires in landfills creating ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Using the tires prevents this.

  • Conserves resources. Making something new from used tires reduces the need for additional raw materials like rubber.

  • Can be inexpensive. Scrap tires can often be obtained for free or cheaply since tire dealers pay to have them hauled away.

  • Noise reduction. Materials made from shredded tires can absorb sound effectively.

  • Insulating properties. Their rubber content helps materials made from tires insulate against temperature changes.

  • Shock absorption. Shredded tires compress under pressure making them useful for surfaces requiring cushioning.

  • Durability. Tire derived materials last a long time without much degradation.

Uses for Recycled Tires in Construction

Here are some of the most common ways recycled tires can be used:

Tire Derived Aggregate

Tire derived aggregate (TDA) is produced by shredding scrap tires into small chunks. The pieces typically range from 12mm to 50mm in size.

TDA performs similar to traditional aggregates like gravel. It can be used as:

  • Drainage material
  • Landfill cover
  • Sub-base material under road surfaces and foundations
  • Lightweight embankment fill
  • Backfill for walls and bridge abutments

Rubberized Asphalt

Adding ground tire rubber to hot mix asphalt creates a road surface material called rubberized asphalt. The rubber makes the asphalt more flexible and durable.

Key benefits include:

  • Noise reduction – Rubberized asphalt can decrease traffic noise by 50% or more.
  • Rut resistance – The elasticity of the rubber helps the asphalt resist deforming from vehicles.
  • Skid resistance – The texture from the rubber provides good traction.
  • Longer lasting – Rubberized asphalt roads can last 50-100% longer before needing repair.

Molded Products

Entire scrap tires can be compressed and bonded together to create molded rubber products. Common uses include:

  • Traffic barriers – Molded tire barriers are lightweight yet strong absorbers of impact. They are reusable too.
  • Dock bumpers – Molded dock bumpers made from tires cushion impacts from trucks and ships.
  • Tree planters – Large molded tire planters hold soil and plants in landscaping.
  • Playground equipment – Poured in place rubber from tires is used for playground surfaces.


Tire shreds and chips contain lots of air pockets that provide excellent insulation against temperature extremes. Applications include:

  • Drainage layers – Tire shred drainage layers under roadways double as insulation to prevent frost heaves.
  • Landfill liners – Tire chips used in landfill liners help contain leaks and insulate the trash.
  • Subgrade insulation – A layer of tire chips under concrete slabs insulates the slab from the ground.
  • Embankments – Shredded tires used in embankments provide lightweight, insulating fill.

Lightweight Fill

The low density of tire chips and shreds make them useful as lightweight fill material. Advantages as fill include:

  • Reduced load – Lightweight tire fill reduces the load on underlying soil compared to using dense gravel or soil.
  • Good drainage – The air space in loose tire fill creates drainage channels for water flow.
  • Land reclamation – Tire chips can be used to fill voids and add elevation in land reclamation projects.
  • Vibration damping – The elasticity of tire chips dampens vibrations well.

Civil Engineering Applications

Civil engineers have found numerous uses for recycled tires:

  • Retaining wall backfill
  • Bridge approach fills
  • Landslide and erosion control
  • Vibration damping under rail lines
  • Septic system drain fields
  • French drains
  • Artificial reef construction

How to Acquire Scrap Tires

There are a few good options for sourcing recycled tires:

  • Tire retailers – Most tire shops have piles of old tires they pay to dispose of and are happy to give away or sell cheaply.

  • Scrap yards – Many scrap and recycling yards stockpile used tires. Check locally for availability and pricing.

  • Municipal collection sites – Some waste management agencies collect tires and will have stockpiles available.

  • Online listings – Search sites like Craigslist for people giving away or selling used tires.

When picking up tires, be sure to protect against mosquitoes breeding in any water caught in them during transport. Completely drain any water and spray truck beds with insecticide.

Processing Tires for Use

Before tires can be used in construction, they typically need to be processed in some way:


Most applications require the tires to be shredded into smaller pieces. Specialized shredding equipment is used to efficiently reduce tires into consistent sized chips or shreds.

Caution: Tire shredding produces dust that contains fibers and chemicals requiring protective equipment. Wet suppression is also used to control dust.


Grinding turns tires into very small particles like sand. This produces material for uses like rubberized asphalt. Cryogenic freezing is often used first to make the tires brittle for easier grinding.


Punching pressed shapes like circles or squares out of tire sidewalls leaves the openings behind to use. The punched out shapes have applications like floor tiles.


Molding applications require compressing whole tires under heat and pressure to fuse them together into solid blocks. The right process ensures the tire pieces bind together.


Tires can be precisely cut with sharp knifes and high pressure water jets. This allows control over the size and shape of the tire pieces.

Best Practices for Success

Follow these tips when using recycled tires for building:

  • Consult local regulations – Some areas restrict certain tire uses.

  • Control for mosquitoes – Prevent water pooling and use pesticides.

  • Monitor for odor – Ensure proper drainage and ventilation.

  • Consider appearance – Shred size and color affects aesthetics.

  • Mix with soil – Combine tire pieces with soil for improved compaction.

  • Get technical guidance – Consult engineering specifications for proper use in structures.

  • Consider logistics – Transporting and handling tire pieces takes planning.

With an abundance of used tires needing disposal, reusing them for construction provides environmental and economic benefits. Follow the principles here to take advantage of recycled tires in your next building project.