Q&A: Retrofitting Plastic Patio Drains

Last week we had a reader email us with a patio drain question. Namely, how could he replace the worn plastic channels of his patio drain, which was separating from the concrete floor?

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Curiosity about the drain itself aside, I am more concerned with the installation’s integrity. As you see in the photo, he pulled up some of the drain. No trench drain – not even a plastic patio drain – should pull up so easily.

A patio drain installed in concrete should be “gripping” the concrete. As plastic drains age they tend to separate, letting water between the edges. Ultimately, this deteriorates the concrete and creates troublesome moisture within the patio floor. For more information on sealing damp concrete, this helpful article by The Concrete Network has more detail.

buy patio drains, buy plastic channel drains, buy pro series drainsThis is why most new models of plastic channel drains feature some sort of rib or ledge. Extra surface area gives more “grip” and lends the drain more longevity it wouldn’t otherwise have.
The NDS Pro Series channel drain product line prides itself on this feature.

I see two solutions to the underlying problem here:

  1. Using a concrete saw, cut a minimum 4” on either side of the drain. Remove the old channels and concrete. Pour concrete around a new patio drain of the same size – but one that has more “grip.”
  2. Without widening the trench, remove the current patio drain. Secure and install a smaller channel drain in concrete. Since the channel is smaller, you may need an outlet adapter to meet the old piping hook-up (e.g., a 2” outlet to 4” pipe adapter).

I hope this gives you a couple ideas about how to fix separating patio drains. Still have questions? Send me an email at hannah@plastictrenchdrain.com. For purchasing questions, give Trench Drain Systems a call at 610-638-1221.


Mini Channel Grating Expose’

Mini Channel is a popular 3 inch wide profile channel drain manufactured by NDS.  It is produced in Fresno, CA and stored in one of the four company warehouses and multiple distributors across America.  It is arguably the most versatile channel drain in its class on the market today.  Here’s why:

  1. nds mini channel, mini channel, plastic channel drain, plastic pvc drain,
    Mini Channel Extrusion Process

    The extruded, PVC cell-core construction of Mini Channel makes it inexpensive while also sturdy enough for popular residential applications, including pool decks and patios.

  2. The 3″ wide and 3″ depth dimension makes it large enough to handle most patio run-off scenarios while still being small enough to be inconspicuous.
  3. The straight wall construction of Mini Channel makes it compatible for most paver projects, while also being great in poured concrete decks.
  4. The grating selection of Mini Channel is one of the largest in the industry.  At last count, this mighty channel boasts of over 30 different grating options (All available at Trench Drain Systems)

Currently, there are four companies that produce grating products for the Mini Channel.  The color, material and design options are widespread making this system virtually perfect for any home decking or patio project.  Check out the selection below.


plastic drain grates, 2.75 grates, 3in plastic grates, nds channel grates,Of course, the manufacturer of Mini Channel will have some grates to use with their system.  They originally began with a six color plastic slotted grate offering and two brass grates (polished and brushed).  After competition in the marketplace proved that decorative grating was a viable option, NDS developed two decorative patterns of their own: “Wave” and “Botanical.” They began offering these two patterns in four colors (plastic) and in cast iron.  In all, NDS has 18 different grate selections for the Mini Channel.

Trench Drain Systems

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“Raindrop” (top) and “Slotted”

The most recent contributor to the Mini Channel grating selection is Trench Drain Systems.  Their contribution has been centered on providing simple, time tested, patterns in bronze and powder coated aluminum.  Currently, the patterns they offer are slotted and raindrop.  The bronze selections are sturdier than the NDS brass grates, having 50% more mass and capable of higher loads.  Bronze grates are available with a natural and brushed finish.

The bronze grate selections are sturdier than those offered by NDS for two reasons.  First, bronze is structurally a stronger material than brass.  And second, the grating offered by TDS have 50% more mass.  In comparison to the NDS product, they are heavier, sturdier and capable of higher loads.

nds mini channel grates, aluminum mini channel grates, 3in aluminum gratesLikewise, TDS makes the aluminum grates available in the same two patterns but with the added feature of being powder coated.  The color choices are Caramel Beige, Textured White and Granite Grey.  The coated aluminum grates are popular around custom pools.  The aluminum grate won’t rust, as will the cast iron grates.  Also, the aluminum isn’t susceptible to deterioration in UV light and won’t break when the foot of a chair is placed on it.  Forget about needing to replace your plastic pool grates every third season.  For large projects, custom powder coatings are available for an added cost.

Iron Age Designs

Iron Age Designs popularized the idea of making decorative grates for the standard, off-the-shelf drains like Mini Channel.  In fact, their “Minione” cast iron grate was the first of 5 decorative grate patterns made for the Mini Channel system.  They also offer their decorative products with a baked on oil finish.  Iron Age’s success in capturing a portion of NDS’s trench drain grate market led to the development of the previously mentioned NDS deco grating products.


Jonite USA

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Baby Pebble grate by Jonite USA; Mini Channel by NDS

Though not a newcomer to the drainage market, Jonite USA is new to the Mini Channel band wagon.  They manufacture a unique material, called Jonite, which is made from the re-constitution of ground granites and other natural stones.  The product is reinforced during the forming process to meet the engineered property requirements of the application.  Their Baby Pebble (shown here) and Interlace patterns are available in Desert Beige and Charcoal Black.  The grates are made to ride on top of the Mini Channel and are meant to be used in paver applications.  The thickness of the grate extends far beyond the top edge of the Mini channel.  The paving stone is installed just flush with the top of the channel/grate combination.

As this is a new company to the US Market, they haven’t quite gotten their distributorship established.  Nothing is stocked in the United States as of print.  Lead time on an order is about 4 months, as it will be coming to you on a boat from Singapore.

If you want more information on the NDS Mini Channel and how it can be designed into your next pool or hardscape project, call Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.  You can also send an email request to sales@TrenchDrainSystems.com


NDS Revamps 5 inch Pro Series

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In 2012, NDS rolled out an improved channel for the 5 inch Pro Series. The 5 inch Pro Series is the workhorse of the Pro Series line, which ranges from 3” – 12” wide. The 5 inch Pro Series is sold in hardware stores around the country, though only in kit form. If you want to buy special grates or additional components, you’ll need to find an online store.

Rebar Connection

The first striking difference between the new and old design is the rebar attachment feature. (See below.) In the original rebar attachment design, a hole in the channel’s supporting foot allowed the installer to thread a piece of construction wire to connect rebar. The new rebar attachment design features a plastic clip that affixes to a No. 4 rebar (1/2”) without a tie wire.

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New channel design (left) vs. Old design (right)

Enhance Ribbing

The new 5 inch Pro Series model also sports a new rib design. The ribbing was originally designed into the system to define the location where the channel could be cut during final channel length adjustment. Compared above, one can see how one of the ribs in each pair has been extended. The extended rib has three purposes.

  1. It acts as a guide to assist in manual trimming of the channel,
  2. It gives more rigidity to the channel body, and
  3. It is part of a new, snap-fit tongue-and-groove channel connection design.

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There is a fourth purpose of the rib re-design, shown above. Three of the extended ribs have pedestal extensions, which are great for leveling the channel during installation on a tamped gravel surface. In the previous 5 inch Pro-Series design, the bottom outlet prevented the channel from setting level on a flat surface. The new design eliminates this issue to improve the overall installation experience.

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Improved Channel Connection

Probably the best outcome of the 5 inch Pro Series redesign is the new channel connection snap fit. Above, one can see both designs are still a tongue and groove fitting. The big difference is in the small “snap housing” at the top of the new design (left channel). Upon completion of the tongue and groove connection, a tab on the male end of the channel makes a “snap fit” with this housing and secures the assembly.

With the previous design, PVC glue was used to secure the channel connection. Though, PVC glue would make the joint between the two channels water tight, it’ application was sometimes an afterthought and made for a more complicated installation.

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 Different Plastic Composition

You may have noticed a slight color difference between the two channels in comparisons above. That’s because NDS altered the plastic composition of the channels. The early version was made of a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) composition while the new channel is made from Poly Ester (PE). The grates used in the system have not changed. They are still as reliable as they were in the past.

There are property differences between the two plastics. However, these differences may be more significant to the manufacturer than the customer. Two helpful observations I’ve made between the two plastics:

  1. You can’t use PVC Glue to connect your new 5 inch Pro Series channels. It doesn’t work. You’ll have to find another product other than “good ol’” PVC glue. I initially learned of the new channel design from an irate customer complaining that he couldn’t glue these new channels together. At that point, NDS still had an old installation data sheet circulating. Oops!!
  2. If you freeze and drop PVC components, they will crack. I learned this after receiving a January shipment of NDS PVC catch basins. The product arrived in the box shattered due to poor handling by the trucking company. If it was July, they probably wouldn’t have been broken.

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Channel Weight

The final difference between the two 5 inch Pro Series designs is the channel weight. The new channel weighs 15 percent less than the previous channel. This may be due to the actual density of the plastic itself. Or, it could be related to some reduced channel dimensions. My gut feeling is that the weight change is an inherent property of the plastic rather than reducing the amount of plastic in the design. In fact, with the added features of the new design, it seems that NDS has “beefed up” on the volume of this channel. Again, this is my gut feeling and not based on any technical evidence.

NDS’s design change to the 5 inch Pro-Series hasn’t changed the width or length, but new design features make installation easier. Some installation problems may crop up if one is trying to make a construction blending the two designs.

I’ll miss the old design because we spent so many years together. However, I look forward to working with this new channel. Good job NDS, Inc.!!!


Mini Channel Plastic Grates are Prettier, Sturdier than Ever!

Mini Channel, the 3” plastic channel drain that has long been one of NDS’ most popular systems, now offers slotted plastic grates with a smoother, more decorative appeal.

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New mold die (top) next to old plastic grate (bottom)

NDS overhauled the design of slotted Mini Channel plastic grates following the release of decorative plastic grating for the 3” channel drain in 2013.

The new design eliminates hard edges and flashing made when using the old injection mold die. The new die gives the grates a smoother look and the Mini Channel system a cleaner appearance.

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Supporting ribs on new slotted grate (top) vs. old grate design (bottom)

The new Mini Channel grate pattern isn’t just for appearance’s sake, either. The new mold lengthens the plastic grate’s supporting ribs, which run perpendicular to the trench’s length (think hamburger, not hot dog). Supporting ribs increase a grate’s longevity under traffic and serve to make the plastic channel grate sturdier. The better a grate’s support structure, the less vehicle stress will affect it.

While the updated look on the Mini Channel won’t increase the channel drain’s overall load bearing capacity, it does make the grate more rigid.

It is important to point out that this improvement didn’t increase the cost of the Mini channel grating.  For an estimate on a Mini Channel system for your patio application, request pricing from one of the specialists at Trench Drain Systems today.


5 Questions to Ask Before Installing Plastic Trench Drain

This is how you choose a plastic trench drain:

When I started my career with trench drain, I didn’t know the benefits of using plastic trench drains on drainage projects.  Since then, I’ve seen enough projects to tell the difference between good and bad trench drain systems.  From what I learned, all trench drain is good as long as you have the proper product for the application. Here’s how you get it right.

1.  Is the drain located in an area with extreme freeze/thaw?

NDS Photos 007 - prPlastic is more susceptible to freeze-thaw than other materials (such as metal or polymer concrete) used for trench drains.  Plastic trench drains can separate from the concrete that holds them in place during extreme temperature changes.  Also, PVC becomes brittle in the extreme cold and could crack under impact at those times.  So, be aware of environment factors before you choose your trench drain material.

2.  Is the drain being installed in a paver surface or in a pour concrete floor?

Mini Channel, Zurn Z880, plastic channel drain, channel drain for paver patio,Trench drains used in paver patio applications usually are straight walled  so to accommodate the close proximity of a paving stone.  Plastic drains that have built-in pedestals or an exaggerated grating seat impart greater strength to the drain and are best suited for concrete installations.

3.  Are the aesthetics important? 

decorative stone, stone grating, decorative trench drain grates, decorative residential drains, residential trench drains, residential catch basins,  decorative catch basin gratesNarrow plastic drains, also called strip drains, come in 1-2” widths and don’t offer decorative grating options. Larger plastic systems (3” wide and larger) often feature decorative grating options in plastic, cast iron or stone.  Some systems even use stainless steel grates.  Or, how do you feel about the plastic channel edge being exposed at the drain-floor interface?  There are systems which minimize or eliminate unsightly channel details.

4.  What are the load requirements for the drain?

Not all residential-grade plastic trench drains are built with vehicle traffic in mind.  But some applications, such as driveways, require load bearing drains.  Small plastic channel drains are designed to incorporate the strength of the surrounding to achieve higher load standards.  Often, these systems offer cast iron grates and reinforcing frames to assist in transferring the load away from the plastic channel.  This allows the plastic channel to achieve industrial-grade load ratings.

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5.  Is the drain being installed by you or a  contractor?

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Superior trench drain design promotes easy installation.  Engineers thought through the installation process to design easy-to-install trench drains.  Plastic trench drains are lightweight and easier to handle.  Still, some of the larger plastic systems can be unwieldy in inexperienced hands, especially when being installed in concrete.

This list of considerations is by no means exhaustive. Maybe you have some other ideas. If so, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Need a price quote? Have installation or replacement questions? Feel free to speak to one of the professional sales staff at Trench Drain Systems by calling 610-638-1221.


Decorative Plastic Trench Grates Exist!

Ever since the first line of plastic trench drains emerged on the market, homeowners have welcomed the convenience of lightweight, affordable drainage systems. Easily purchased and installed, plastic drains bring patio and driveway drainage systems to an accessible level.

But a lingering flaw in plastic drainage systems has been the same simplicity that made them popular. The smallest plastic drains are about 1.5” wide and, though they come in up to three colors (usually gray, sand or white), are just narrow strip drains with no ornamental grating options. Larger drains between 2” – 4” wide come standard with plastic slotted grates that offered new colors but no design improvements.

Now NDS’ design efforts allow anyone to buy decorative plastic trench grates for new and preexisting NDS drain systems. The new Botanical and Wave designs are both beautiful. (see a side by side comparison below). While the pattern options are still developing, both styles come in trademark NDS colors of sand, black, green and gray.

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These grates are available for the 3” Mini Channel and the 4” Spee-D Channel systems, and they also work with 12” catch basins. Overall, I think the new decorative grates improve the 3” and 4” NDS profile drains. Let me show you why.

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NDS Mini Channel plastic drain system

The Mini Channel and Spee-D Channel profile drains feature honeycomb chambers within the wall. Spee-D Channel drains (not shown here) have thicker walls to accommodate their greater width, but the basic construction is the same. Profile drain grates rest on a lip in the channel body and are screwed into place.

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Mini Channel with Botanical grate (left), with Gray Slotted Grate (right).

Traditionally, either system’s slotted plastic grates rest fully within the channel and do not hide its edge (see above photo, right). Gray channel edges are visible on either side of plastic slotted Mini Channel or Spee-D Channel grates, a detail frequently commented on in upscale applications.

“[The visible channel border] has been a long running criticism of the Mini Channel and Spee-D Channel,” says Mike Schreiber, District Sales Manager at NDS.

Personally, I always felt this was a design flaw on the part of NDS not only because water can gather between the grate and the channel but also because it’s not aesthetically appealing. I’m pleased that NDS is taking steps to improve on the design.

NDS’ decorative grating (see above photo, left) is thicker. The grates hang over the channel walls. Once installed, all you see of the drainage system on the left is the Botanical pattern grate.

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The photo above shows how nicely the new decorative plastic grates fit into NDS profile drains. I do like these grates better because their added thickness makes the systems more durable. It also makes the grates sit higher in the channel, which means you’ll have to use special screws to secure the grates.

At first I was concerned that the additional height would tempt the Fates and lead to broken drains. However, NDS specifications recommend profile channels be recessed up to a quarter inch to improve drainage. Recessed drains also protect the channel from snow plows, which have been known to tear up grates. If there are any issues they will probably occur in preexisting drains that were not installed in a recess. But if the existing drains were installed properly there shouldn’t be a problem.

When decorative cast iron grates became a reality for homeowners, plastic drain manufacturers realized they were missing out on a large market. Contractors and homeowners saw cast iron grates as an upgrade to basic slotted plastic worth the extra cost, but decorative plastic was unsold real estate in the trench drain market. So far, only NDS has done anything to fill the market need.

Seeing an unmet market need, NDS began developing their line of decorative plastic grates a year ago. The manufacturer conducted surveys among customers and contractors to help choose which designs would be most popular before sending out small batches for trial runs. The end result is that homeowners can now buy Botanical and Wave pattern plastic grates for their profile drains and catch basins.

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A sampling of NDS’ decorative catch basin grates

The decorative grates are making in-roads on applications where drainage systems are visible such as commercial pools, patios and sidewalks. While they aren’t driving new sales – nobody who doesn’t need a trench drain is buying the grates just to have them – homeowners and contractors lean toward decorative plastic because of its improved aesthetics.

“I’m really starting to see the decorative channel take off,” Schreiber says.

Many NDS drains have a decorative iron option available (see our blog about decorative cast iron grating here). Plastic decorative patterns are still limited at the moment, but I expect options to expand once the idea of affordable plastic replacement grates sinks into the public’s mind. NDS, now busy incorporating new acquisitions such as KBI flow control and ADS drainage systems, is going to wait before expanding their decorative offerings.

Thanks for reading! Do you like the new decorative plastic grates?

Visit DrainageKits.com to buy replacement plastic grates for your NDS profile drains or catch basins. You can also call Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 to speak with a trench drain specialist or leave a comment below!


Made In America: Iron Age Designs

Iron Age Designs is a Washington-based designer that embraces its Made in the U.S.A. identity as it sells decorative iron grates, tree grates and custom casting at prices homeowners can afford.

Founded in 2005 by Mark Armstrong and Craig Diamond, industry professionals who had already worked together for years designing decorative castings for landscape projects, Iron Age brought high-end design to homeowners and contractors everywhere.

“We started with the drain grates where there hasn’t been much variety at a price most folks could afford,” says Dominique Watkins, a partner at Iron Age Designs.

Making their signature decorative iron grates in the U.S.A is important to Iron Age for a number of reasons. Manufacturing domestically doesn’t just present practical benefits such as little to no language barrier, a standard currency or similar quality standards. Domestic manufacturing also allows the company to take part in a shared business culture and a sort of patriotic loyalty during each grate’s design, manufacture and ultimate sale.

“It’s just easier to pick up the phone and talk to a person in the same country,” Watkins says. “Also, I have noticed that our business partners feel like we are the same team. U.S. manufacturing has been embattled for many years, and we share a determination to work together to succeed in making things right here at home.”

Iron Age, like many Made in the U.S.A. companies, has difficulty competing with imported drain grates and tree grates. The low cost of labor in foreign countries translates to price differences that don’t favor American manufacturing. “Value engineering” – a euphemism for cutting costs by buying the cheapest option available – disregards design in favor of budgeting.

It might be better for Iron Age to scout for manufacturers across the border, but they don’t. Though the Internet makes it easier to collaborate on new trench grate designs over long distances, being geographically close has its benefits. Meetings take on a different tone in person and product development is easier to manage, for example.

“Communication is better when you are in the same room,” Watkins says. “For production, it is best when you can see the progress of the actual product and touch the prototype as a product evolves.”

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6″ Decorative Grates Installed in Residential Driveway

The grating designer sets itself apart from the competition by continually creating grating designs not found elsewhere in the industry and by embracing its Made in the U.S.A. identity.

Iron Age Designs sells more trench drain grates and catch basin grates than any other product. The designer supplies drain grates that fit a number of trench drain systems by leading industry manufacturers such as NDS, ACO, ABT, ADP, MEA and Zurn.

“Drain grates are successful because we have something really unique to say in terms of our design,” Watkins says. “Also, nobody else carries the kind of breadth and depth of decorative offering that we do.”

The product niche is very narrow, with only a handful of competitors. Many foundries manufacture their cast iron grates outside the U.S. and import. Other designers who hire domestic foundries don’t offer decorative products. Neenah Foundry, a titan in the cast iron grate industry, gears itself toward industrial projects instead of homeowners.

“That leaves only a couple who produce a variety of decorative grates in quantity in the USA, and among them we are probably the most reasonably priced,” Watkins says. “As far as trench grates and catch basins grates go we have no peer in the variety of design palette.”

Trench Drain Systems is happy to have brought you this article, and we want to know: Why do you buy American?

If you have a question about Iron Age grates or decorative grating upgrades, email us or call one of our drain specialists to discuss your application. Decorative patio drainage kits and cast iron grates are available online at www.DrainageKits.com.



Infinity Drains: A New Era for the Shower Drain?

In our previous blog on stainless steel shower drains we touched on the growing trend of rimless showers. At the time, though, stainless steel was a high end solution and out of reach for many homeowners. The economy had consumers cutting back but the needs of the baby boomers were – and are – the same. It’s been a few years, but public interest in shower drainage systems never went away. Actually, I’ve seen the demand for information on shower drains increase.

I’m excited to say that shower drains are finally becoming a standardized product line. Some manufacturers make flanged shower drains from 28” to 70” long with six patterned grates. Others are more select, showing limited lengths on their stainless channels but offering artisanal grating options. True, custom stainless steel shower drains are still around in a big way, but they are becoming less necessary as standardized drains gain popularity. The setback isn’t in finding a drain anymore but in finding which drain works best.

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One of the newest concepts within the stainless steel drain market is that drain bodies no longer have to be stainless steel. One manufacturer, Infinity Drain, had the moxie to design a series of linear drain systems for showers that combine aspects of low profile channel drains and full-bodied stainless steel drain systems. Though their drainage systems have been used in patios, pools and driveways for some time, their products make the biggest mark on bathroom and shower drainage, a market previously dominated by expensive, custom stainless steel drains. Infinity Drain has opened a huge market for residential trench drains and trench drain users by offering not only full stainless steel systems but plastic-bodied linear drain systems with stainless steel grates, too.

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Infinity Drain has an edge over the competition. Unlike traditional center floor drains, which require a pitch in the floor in four different directions, Infinity Drain products allow the shower floor to be pitched in only one direction. The drain itself can be located anywhere in the shower stall because it features adjustable outlets. Eliminating restrictions on tile size or slab material within a shower, Infinity Drain systems allow for design flexibility.

The basic appeal of Infinity Drain is its simplicity. Take a look at the photos below. The AG Series, identified by its architectural slotted stainless steel grate, and the DG Series (stainless steel perforated grate) are the same system. Infinity Drain’s plastic-bodied AG and DG Series shower drains come in two widths: 38mm (1-1/2”) and 65mm (2-7/8”). While these grates and channels can be combined or cut to create custom lengths, Infinity Drain also acknowledged the current market standard by providing their linear drains in ready-to-assemble kits at set lengths.

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Another option is to “hide” the shower drain using the TIF Series (short for Tile in Frame). Like the AG and DG Series, it uses plastic channels that can be combined for any length of drain. Again, the only real difference here is the grating option. Instead of a slotted or perforated grate, the TIF Series uses a stainless steel grate frame that sits inside the channel. The frame supports a tile or solid insert to camouflage the drain. I think the result (shown below) is pretty cool.

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To those who prefer a stainless steel channel body but want design flexibility, Infinity Drain offers the AS Series (shown below), a full-bodied stainless drain that can be adapted for custom lengths that only comes in 2-7/8” wide. At only 1” tall, the channel is considered low profile and mostly used in shower areas with thin flooring; the shallow channel body also makes the AS Series grate unique to this product line. The AS grate has tightly grouped slot openings, meaning it has relatively less open surface area for water to drain through.

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There is an air of mystery surrounding the FX Series, a 2-3/4” wide stainless steel channel and grate system that comes in complete kits with a center outlet. Designed with fixed lengths, this system can be customized to a specific length or grate pattern by the manufacturer upon request, but this isn’t a do-it-yourself drain. Where would you be if all the bases weren’t covered?

Overall, if you are a homeowner and wanted a shower drain for your home, Infinity Drain has placed your goal within reach. They have taken the stainless steel market to an affordable level so you can obtain the quality of a stainless steel drain without dramatically affecting your pocketbook.

Now that more are more options on the market, I think it’s safe to say we are beginning to enter into a new shower age. With more reasonable options, the average consumer can re-design their bathrooms and showers to incorporate the trench drain and make it more accessible.

Trench Drain Systems is happy to have brought you this article. If you have a question about shower drains or any of the Infinity Drain product lines, send us an email. To discuss your application with one of our sales professionals, call us at 610-638-1221. 


Patio and Driveway Drainage Solutions Part II – New Catch Basin Drain Grate Options

We left off our previous blog after after introducing standard grating options such as the plastic slotted grate and the painted black iron grate.  The neat thing, though, is that multiple grates fit the 12″ x 12″ size profile adapters and catch basins.

Three new grating options recently became available to the market, which open up the design possibilities for every budget. Now there are designer grates available in plastic, cast iron and reinforced stone.

Designer Plastic Grates by NDS

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Earlier this year, NDS came out with two new grating designs that are expected to replace the standard plastic slotted catch basin grate. Their Wave (left) and Botanical patterns (right) come in four colors and fit the 12” x 12” catch basins and low profile adapter for both NDS and ADS products. They are interchangeable. The price of these designer grates are a few dollars more than the standard slotted plastic grates. This allows for the affordable replacement of existing basin grates.

Decorative Cast Iron Grates by Iron Age Designs

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Iron Age Designs has been around for a few years in the designer cast iron grate market. Their 12” x 12” catch basin grating options, designed to fit the NDS 1200 basin series, are top notch.  Coincidently (or by default), they also fit the ADS and Old Castle 12” catch basin product lines. These grates are strong enough to use in a driveway drainage application. They will easily support the weight of a delivery truck or car. Expect to pay over $100 dollars for one of these grates. Also, expect years of enjoyment from one of these grates being an heirloom in your outdoor living space.

Color Coordinated Stone Grating by Jonite

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Jonite has been around for years but is only now getting a foothold in North America. Headquartered in Singapore, they supply decorative grating and custom furniture made from a reinforced stone composite. The product they manufacture is resort quality. This is a drain option to be considered for a paver, tile or stone deck around your pool or in your outdoor living space. For custom jobs, Jonite is able to make personalized designs and match existing stone colors and textures.

The product selection in the United States is limited but growing. Six color options are available which match a common assortment of pavers and tile flooring. The photo below shows three patterns; Slotted, Baby Pebbles and Chiseled Rain. More options are to be available soon.

Any of the products you’ve seen today are available from Trench Drain Systems. Patio and driveway drainage kits are available online at www.DrainageKits.com.  If you have any questions, please contact a Trench Drain Systems expert at 610-638-1221 or via email.


Patio and Driveway Drainage Solutions – Low Profile Drain (Part 1)

Just about any place in need of a drainage point can use catch basins (or one of their many variations) to evacuate water. Homeowners can use catch basins for driveway drainage, pools, patio point drains and landscape area drains. And, the installation techniques employed will be as diverse as the application.

buy plastic grates online, buy 5" plastic grates, buy nds drains online, 5 inch pro series buy nowAn interesting variation of a catch basin is the low profile adapter. This is truncated, or shallow housing that is designed to accept a standard 12” x 12” catch basin grate and allows for direct connection to a vertical drainage pipe. These drains are similar in character to single point floor drains used inside the home, but without the flanges and waterproofing features. They have no reservoir to collect debris from the run-off water. They simply fit on top of the vertical 3”, 4” or 6” PVC drain pipe that is part of the drainage system (shown below without grating).

NDS Low Profile Adapter on Pipe, nds, low profile drain, shallow catch basin

There are at least three companies that manufacture a 12” x 12” low profile adapter: ADS (American Drainage Systems), NDS (National Diversified Sales) and Old Castle (Formerly Carson Industries). All three companies have slightly differing product designs while maintaining the ability to accept a 12” x 12” x 1.25” thick grating. Two of these are compared below. At first glance, the ADS and NDS low profile adapters seem the same. And, from a strictly drainage functionality aspect, they are.

Low Profile Adapter Comparison, nds low profile, ads low profile adapter, ads catch basin, plastic drainage system

Both products have a similar dimensioned housing to carry the grate. The grates used in each drain are actually interchangeable. Each product requires a twist-in adapter (3 – 4” and 6”) to interface with the drainage pipe. Both are black colored. Even the company acronyms are close. ADS? NDS? What’s the difference?

There are a few subtle differences between the two low profile adapters that become apparent when you hold them. The ADS product is made from Polyethylene (PE) whereas NDS makes their product from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Parts made from polyethylene are a little more flexible and durable than PVC parts. PVC is easier to crack or break, especially in cold temperatures. But this characteristic may not have any bearing on longevity or performance, especially when the drain is installed in concrete.

The flip-side of that material analogy is that PVC, being a slightly stiffer material, gives the impression that the NDS product is a well designed, cleaner fitting drain body. Of course, the ADS drain body has the same design quality as the NDS product. However, the flexibility and feel of polyethylene may give an impression of it being an inferior product. This is certainly not the case, however.

ADS, NDS, pipe adapter, pipe fitting, low profile adapter, low profile drain, shallow residential drain

The pipe adapter is an important part of the low profile adapter. It is the link between the grate housing and the drain pipe. As we all know, there are many drain pipes that can be used for an outdoors application, depending on the amount of water anticipated. Generally, 3” and 4” diameter pipes will handle the flow of water experienced in a residential setting. The two adapters, shown above, are designed to attach to both pipe sizes, both PVC and corrugated PE. Both adapters work well with their respective drain housing. For higher volume flow applications, pipe adapters for 6” diameter pipes are available from both manufacturers.

When installed in a patio or driveway, the low profile drain will be hidden from sight and the only thing visible is the top grating. There are a number of products available made to fit both of these housings. Each manufacturer has their own set of standard plastic and cast iron slotted grates, which are affordable, functional and diverse. We will discuss more decorative grating options in our follow-up blog.

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