Ever since the rise of plastic trench drains, there have been three big misconceptions about plastic driveway drains.
they’re not traffic rated (FALSE)
they’re not sloped (FALSE)
they’re not decorative (FALSE)
Popular plastic channel drains only provide surface level view of your options. Based on a trip to their local chain store, a homeowner would expect a gray plastic Spee-D Channel. But you can do better with your driveway drain.
Pre-Sloped Driveway Drains
Pre-sloped trench drains aren’t a necessity, but they do make things easier. A trench drain with a built in grade drains water faster than non-sloped drains, meaning less sediment build up inside the trench drain.
I’d recommend one of two big names in plastic trench drains for a residential driveway project:
NDS Dura Slope Driveway Drains
NDS Dura Slope is a 6” commercial grade system made from HDPE (high density polyethylene). It comes in 4ft sections that combine to create longer runs of sloped drain. At .7% slope, Dura Slope ranks among the highest flow rates of any system its size.
You can also use outlet options to adjust Dura Slope’s layout. Though 4” end outlets are most common, you can build in a 4” bottom outlet. Catch basins with trash baskets create a handy water reservoir during big storms that also prevents leafy debris from getting past the drain into the piping below.
And Dura Slope is built for traffic right down to the grates. The system’s “basic” grate option is a light traffic plastic grate perfect for cars, SUVs and light trucks. From there you’ll be able to upgrade to iron grates, which are rated for more commercial traffic such as delivery vans and trash trucks.
Storing tractors or fork trucks in your garage? You may want to consider frames for your Dura Slope system.
Zurn Z886 Driveway System
Zurn’s HDPE Z886 is a popular name in 6” commercial systems, which doesn’t make it better so much as a brand to be reckoned with. With a 4” ID width, it has roughly the same water capacity as the competition. Capacity aside, Z886’s .75% slope actually offers the most slope of any system its size.
The big perk of using Z886 for driveways comes on bigger projects. Z886 channels are two meters (80”) long, meaning a faster installation and fewer joints. Fewer joints mean less chance of the drain going crooked or needing to be re-leveled during installation.
The area where Z886 excels is grating options. Though they don’t have traffic rated plastic grates, Zurn does offer ductile iron, fiberglass and stainless steel in traffic-rated varieties. The price and material can get excessive for a simple residential project, but luckily Z886’s ductile iron grate is a good standard to fall back on. Don’t let the options get to your head.
Non-sloped Driveway Drains
Slope isn’t a given, and you’re not likely to see it in drains smaller than 6” wide. Lest we get nervous about effective drainage, however, it is worth reviewing a principle: water always seeks its own level. If there is a lower place where water can go, it will find its way there. Don’t agonize over it.
Non-sloping drains will generally be smaller than 6” and have fewer options. For example, don’t expect catch basins.
Polylok for Driveways
Polylok is surprisingly heavy duty for a 5” plastic drain that works in driveways. Its sturdy channel walls enable it to handle H-20 wheel loads, but you’ll have to install the drain in concrete to see the benefits. Luckily, the system is designed for easy assembly and quick concrete installation.
Homeowners, whether installing Polylok in a driveway or a patio, enjoy Polylok’s layout flexibility. The system offers T-intersections and corner segments without the special fabricating you’d need with pre-sloped systems like Z886 and Dura Slope.
Notably, Polylok’s color options extend to the channel itself. Your choice of black, gray, sand or green grates come with matching drain body, eliminating pesky edge lines so common in trench drains. And, if you need a ductile iron grate, it’s easy to maintain style by pairing the grate with a black channel.
Pro-Series 5 in Driveways
The 5” Pro-Series by NDS combines a solid channel construction with the bells and whistles of a bigger system. Pro-Series is a commercial system disguised by its HDPE composition. But Pro-Series 5 has a lot going for it.
For starters, the channel drain comes in shallow (2-5/8”) and deep (4-3/4”) varieties. Both include grooves every 4 inches in case you need to cut the system to a shorter-than-standard lengths. While shallow channel drains don’t allow you to design corners, they do offer side outlets that you can’t get with deeper channels. Pro-Series’ deeper channels, meanwhile, offer 90- and 45- elbows. They also include radius couplers, allowing the system to “bend” by six degrees.
Both channel profiles accept the same grates, which range from pedestrian-only perforated to galvanized steel slotted and H-20 rated iron grates. The most common grate for residential driveways, however, is a light traffic slotted grate (available in six colors) that handles up to 72 gallons per minute… per foot.
Plastic trench drains are giving traditional drains serious competition in driveway applications. But don’t make the mistake of buying from a chain hardware store expecting to get the strength or full range of design available on the market.
The Pro Series channel has a grating recess that is supported by concrete rather than the plastic channel itself.
MEArin 100 is actually a fiber-reinforced plastic system, but it is popular on residential projects because of its affordability and decorative grating options.
At 5.3” wide, MEArin 100 has the chops to take on more commercial systems. Each fiberglass channels comes with a solid construction and provides a pre-marked recess for bottom outlets.
Unlike many pre-sloped drains, MEArin 100 also offers affordable, pre-fabricated corners to make installation in large driveway pads easier.
You can choose from 20 grating options, Class A (pedestrian only) to Class C. Ductile iron and galvanized steel grates will work in driveways and garages.
Here’s a quick reference list of the top plastic driveway drains available:
NDS Dura Slope
NDS 5” Pro Series
MEA’s MEArin 100
Have a driveway related question? Give us a call at 610-638-1221 to discuss your driveway drain project. Or, send in photos and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trench Drain Systems gets a lot of questions about the 5 inch NDS Pro-Series product line. Our expert, John, went over some standard product features to help you know a bit more about the drains.
NDS designed the channels to join together without couplers. They fit together tongue-and-groove.
That’s already an improvement. Most residential drains need an extra part to fit together, and eliminating that saves a lot of hassle.
But each channel also has these anchoring ribs every 4 inches that really grab the concrete. If you need a smaller piece of drain, just cut at any of these points to get a smaller channel that still interlocks.
Pro Series outlets connect directly, whether it’s this bottom outlet or an end outlet. Everything attaches to 3” S&D and 4 inch S&D fitting SPT.
The shallow version – yes there’s a shallow option – only has an inch and a half outlet for Sch. 40 pipe. There’s no built-in bottom outlet, but the shallow profile DOES have a nifty extension for 3 inch S&D bottom outlets and inch and a half side outlets.
Now. If you choose the Deep or Shallow profile … either way, they connect the same, and they take the same grates.
And those grates have a lot of variety.
5″ Pro Series has a gray perforated grate perfect for pedestrians. With these small openings, you get a trade-off: It doesn’t handle much water but it is ADA compliant and heel-friendly.
This light traffic grate handles almost three times as much water as the perforated grate. It’s also more robust, so you can drive across it. This one’s the most popular option because it comes in 6 colors and is still ADA Compliant.
These two grates are commercial-grade. Both are H-20 load rated, so start thinking tractor-trailers and forklifts.
When faced with the prospect of selecting a channel drain for your swimming pool deck, your task can seem overwhelming. Your contractor may only have a handful of the drain products available in his regional marketplace. Additionally, if you are looking for custom or design-specific grating options, you may have to spend many nights researching on your own for a product that is just right. A deck drain consultant can be a big time saver.
Pool deck drain selection is a balancing act between deck design, functionality, aesthetics, safety and cost. It is important that the pool owner weigh the relative value that each of these features have to his project prior to designing the pool drain.
1. Budget Considerations
Is cost the overall driving factor in your selection? Or, would you consider a drain with a little something extra to act as a conversation piece? In the pool drain world, there is a broad spectrum of product costs. The standard 1.5″ wide deck drains, which inevitably get clogged and break, are at the bottom of the spectrum. From there, systems are available in all cost ranges, up to 10 times the cost of the low end product. I should point out that quality systems are available at affordable prices for those watching the budget. In general, pre-sloped systems are more expensive than neutral (non-sloped) systems. However, pre-sloped systems have installation advantages that we will point out below.
2. Functionality Considerations
When I start discussing a pool deck drain with a client I ask them, “How is the pool deck to be constructed?” Is the deck made of poured concrete, pavers, or tile? All drains can be installed in a concrete deck construction, but not all drains work well with paver stone or tile. Drainage systems that are designed with straight walls provide a linear surface that are great for laying paving stones against. If the drain body has legs or support structure that are too close to the top edge of the channel, abutment of pavers will be compromised.
Examples of this are shown below. Mini Channel and Polycast are both systems with straight walls and play well with paving stone. Dura Slope and Pro-series #5 have rebar connection features that make it impossible for pavers to lay adjacent. These latter products need to be encased in concrete prior to laying the paving stone. In streetscape applications, this may be a reasonable design approach.
3. Drain Capacity
Wrapped in this conversation we should begin to consider how large of a drain we need for the deck application. How large is the project and how much water is the drain required to handle? Is this an Olympic sized pool or are we looking at a back yard sauna? Long drains generally need to have a pre-sloped channel body if you plan to have only one drain outlet. Neutral drain bodies, like NDS Mini Channel, can be used in long or complex drain designs as long as they are designed with bottom outlets every 15 – 20 feet. This requires a parallel plumbing design running beneath the deck drain. Though a little more complex in the construction, frequent bottom outlets gives you design flexibility that you can’t get with some wider, higher volume deck drain systems.
4. Aesthetic and Safety Considerations
Once a deck drain is installed in your pool, the only evidence you have is the top grate – or grille, as some call it. The selection of the grate will determine how much attention is brought to the drain and how safe the grate will be to pool goers. My first “Rule of Thumb” is to make deck drain grates “barefoot friendly”. The openings should be small enough to prevent a toe from getting caught in it. This is not always possible if you have some really inquisitive children, however.
Decorative grates bring an added touch of elegance to the pool deck, but need to be selected with safety in mind. Cast iron metal grating not only can rust and become unsightly but have a high heat capacity that are hot to the touch during summer months. Plastic, aluminum and bronze grates seem to be a more popular grating choice for deck drains in high foot traffic areas.
Grating color is another aesthetic parameter that comes into play. Grates made from plastic, metal and stone are all available in a varieties of color. White, tan and light grey are the three most popular deck drain colors. Darker grey grates are used in bluestone and some paver pool deck designs. Brass, bronze, stainless steel, cast iron and aluminum grates are popular in modern, designer pools.
Where to do research…..
After you have a drain design roughed out, visit www.DrainageKits.com and see some of the options available in kit form for pool applications. Look through all the drain options, not just pool and patio drains. You will be able to see options and pricing. While doing this research, you will begin to narrow down exactly what it is you want. If you still need to discuss the project, contact one of the drain professionals at Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221. They can offer more direction to your search and help with the project estimate.
Trench Drain Systems (TDS) is a leading supplier of trench and channel drain systems for residential and commercial applications. In addition to having a full line of products used for walk-in shower and driveway drainage applications, they carry an attractive assortment of swimming pool deck drains that are chosen for both their safety features and great looks.
If you’ve been looking for a MEArin 100 installation guide, you’re in luck!
Trench Drain Systems partnered up with a customer last month to create an accurate install guide designed specifically for the MEArin system.
I love MEArin 100. I worked with it for years, and I’ve found that it has some great things going for it, especially for homeowners who need an affordable drain around the house.
Versatility. MEArin 100 is the right size for a patio or pool situation, yet it’s tough enough for driveway applications.
Cover Selection. To quote a coworker, MEArin 100 comes with “billions and billions of grating option.” While I don’t think it’s quite so high, MEArin 100 does
DIY Friendly. All the parts assemble easily in MEArin 100. And, installation doesn’t require technical expertise. It’s great for the residential do-it-yourselfer!
Here’s how it happened:
When we asked MEA to send us an accurate install bulletin for MEArin 100, they sent us the same incorrect one we’d been using for years. They didn’t have an installation guide for the system, either.
We wouldn’t send contractors off to install commercial drains without a bulletin, so why were we doing it to homeowners with less experience? It wasn’t acceptable. So we decided to make our own.
At the same time, one of our customers who had purchased MEArin 100, offered to send us photos from his installation. A retired engineer, he even took the time to make suggestions for our new installation guide based on his experience installing the drain.
We’re proud to have an installation guide that is easy for DIY homeowners to reference. Use it for your own MEArin 100 installation – or as a basic guide for any driveway installation.
Need professional advice? Give Trench Drain Systems a call at 610-638-1221 or send a request to our estimating department!
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?
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.
This 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:
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.”
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 email@example.com. For purchasing questions, give Trench Drain Systems a call at 610-638-1221.
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.
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.
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?
Plastic 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?
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?
Narrow 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.
5. Is the drain being installed by you or a contractor?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!