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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the past couple years we have posted several articles discussing catch basins and catch basin installation. More specifically, we have found ourselves focusing on the broad selection of catch basin products for yard and downspout drainage manufactured by National Diversified Sales (NDS).
This article is devoted to one of my favorite NDS catch basin products called the Next Generation Basin, or 1200 NGB. The 1200 NGB is a unique 12” x 12” catch basin that allows you to adjust the invert elevations of the catch basin without changing elevation at grade (at the grating). No other residential grade catch basin has this feature!
Take a look at the 1200 NGB catch basin kit (above), which contains two open adjustable wall panels. The round openings in the basin’s wall panels are specifically designed to accept one of NDS’s universal outlets. So, not only are the inverts for the 1200 NGB adjustable, but it can fit a variety of piping options, too. In the photo below, a 1243 pipe adapter is shown alongside a panel wall.
If only one outlet is needed for the catch basin, the 1266 plug adapter can be inserted to seal up the wall. NDS also offers a solid wall panel (or plug side) can be inserted to close the open side (see photo below). Still, the plug side does offer a knock-out for a pipe adapter if you later change your mind about having an outlet at that location.
The 1200 NGB system was developed to make catch basin installation easier and more convenient. You can see in the photo below that it has three snap off side-outlet options, each changing the slope of drainage slightly. The lowest setting eliminates most sitting water from the basin, leaving less room for a sump to catch debris but draining the quickest. The center setting is the standard and connects with the middle of the catch basin. The highest setting gives the catch basin more elevation for drainage that needs to travel a longer distance. Depending on the situation, each of these outlets can be just what is needed to complete the job.
The 1200 NGB basin also gives you options in bottom discharging. In the bottom of every basin is an adapter knock-out (similar to the plug side knock-out), which can attach to solid a PVC pipe that feeds off your drainage system. By attaching the bottom outlet to a perforated pipe, you can create a leaching system uses storm water to recharge the ground water. Small “weep hole” knock-outs are also located in the bottom corners of the catch basin for those who are just trying to rid the basin of standing water.
The fourth option offered by the Next Generation Catch Basin is a total bottom cut-out, which allows the maximum amount of storm water to be put back into the ground. As the ground becomes saturated, excess water reaches the pipe elevation and is taken away in the drainage system. Though this option maximizes the water that remains on site – a popular choice among those interested in water sustainability – it is not the best option next to home foundations.
One of the best things about the 1200 NGB system, though, is the amount of grating options available for it. Standard plastic grating comes in 4 colors: black, sand, green and gray. Also, there are bronze, brass, galvanized steel and cast iron options. Below are examples of the standard slotted cast iron grating (left) and the black plastic grating (right).
Other ornamental cast iron grating options are manufactured by Iron Age Designs are also available for this catch basin. Below are four gorgeous patterns that are popular in patio and downspout catch basins. Clockwise from the upper left, the pattern names are Interlaken, Locust, Sun and Oblio.
These grates fit perfectly with the 1200 NGB. What makes the designs so fantastic is how each one incorporates a different image of nature into what would otherwise be a simple work of cast iron. The Interlaken Grate on the top left has a beautiful yet strict design; it must be a representation of the solid form of earth. On the top right, the Locust Grate provides a breezier feel; the leaf patterns soften the harshness of the material until it seems to flow. With the grate pictured on the bottom left, the Oblio Grate, you can get a sense of water in the concentric circles; the grate is reflecting the distorted surface of water during a rain. At the bottom right, the Sun Grate exudes warmth and intensity; the sun seems to pop out of the plain background of circles. Consider painting this grate in bright colors prior to installation.
Thanks for stopping by our blog to learn about the Next Generation Basin, the catch basin that does what no other residential basin can do! All of the products mentioned in this article are available from Trench Drain Systems. Call them at 610-638-1221 or email your inquiry.