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
- Zurn Z886
- NDS 5” Pro Series
- Zabel Polylok
- MEA’s MEArin 100