Category Archives: Decorative Grating

Decorative grates, cast iron grating and iron grating finishes for residential trench drain systems

Plastic Driveway Drains do Exist!

Ever since the rise of plastic trench drains, there have been three big misconceptions about plastic driveway drains.

  1. they’re not traffic rated (FALSE)
  2. they’re not sloped (FALSE)
  3. 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

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Traffic-rated  ✔          Decorative Options  ✔

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

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Traffic-rated ✔ Decorative Options ✔

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

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Traffic-rated ✔ Color Options  ✔

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

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Traffic-rated ✔     Color Options ✔

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

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Traffic-rated       ✔            Decorative Options         ✔

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:

  •  Pre-Sloped
    • NDS Dura Slope
    • Zurn Z886
  • Non-Sloped
    • NDS 5” Pro Series
    • Zabel Polylok
    • 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 hannah@plastictrenchdrain.com.
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New “Cathedral” Grating for NDS Mini Channel

Trench Drain Systems expanded its decorative offering for NDS Mini Channel with a new pattern of bronze and aluminum grating. The design, borrowed from Chester Cathedral in Chester, England, (shown below) is heel-proof, subdued and stylish.   It adds a solemn aesthetic to the hardscape and hints of a yearning for the innocence of old.

Chester Cathedral, previously Saint Werburgh’s Benedictine Abbey, was built in the 10th century on the site of a church founded in part by the infamous Lady Godiva.  The grating shown below was probably installed during a major rebuilding that occurred in the 1900s.

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Trench Grating seen at the Chester Cathedral in England

Trench Drain Systems adds the “Cathedral” grate to their decorative grating product line, which also includes a standard slotted grate and an oblong perforated pattern known as “Raindrops.”  All three patterns are available in bronze and aluminum.

TDS-Mini-Channel-Grates-Cathedral

The bronze grates are available in a natural finish or a ground (polished) finish.

The aluminum grates, made from a corrosion resistant alloy, are available in 3 standard powder coatings as well as standard natural finish.   The standard powder coating colors are Sand, Granite and White.  Custom colors are available if your project requires that attention.

buy decorative grates, decorative mini channel, buy patio gratesEach grate lends itself well to drainage applications in elegant outdoor living spaces and swimming pool deck.  With two counter sunk holes allowing the grate to screw into the NDS Mini Channel, these grates are secure for even the most trafficked areas.

For involved drain designs, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 for help with your inquiry.  One of our trained sales professionals will be available to help you with your drainage questions.

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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:

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    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.

NDS

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.

IA-3inch-mini-grate-collage

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

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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The Next Generation Basin by NDS

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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Mini Channel’s Decorative Grating Options

National Diversified Sales (NDS) is a plastic trench drain manufacturer based out of California.  They have a fantastic selection of plastic trench drain systems that are used in residential and commercial applications.  The 3 inch-wide Mini Channel is popular because its honeycomb design and inexpensive price appeals to contractors and homeowners.  However, a big part of the drainage system’s popularity comes from the number of complementary grating options offered. 

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The standard grate offered with the Mini Channel is still a 3 foot long plastic grate, which is offered in six colors (gray, white, green, black, red, and sand).  Gray was the go-to color in the past, but customers are now branching out for colors that blend with the hardscaping; sand and white plastic grates, especially, are gaining popularity.

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For those with a more discriminating taste, NDS offers two slotted brass grating options.   The 1 foot long brass grates come in a satin or polished finish. Besides being simple, shiny, and elegant, they contain chamfered holes for optional screw placement, which helps keep the grates secured in the channel.

Another option available for Mini Channel customers is decorative cast iron grates.  These aren’t the ordinary slotted grates of yester-year; the cast iron grating product lines below illustrate the beautiful side of a functional product that was previously considered a necessary – and ugly – evil by many homeowners.  (Note:  these grates are shown with a baked-on oil finish unless otherwise specified but come standard in an unfinished cast iron.)

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Currently, five styles of cast iron grates work with NDS’ Mini Channel system: the Acanthus, Interlaken, Carbochon, Locust and the Minnione.  There are a few basic differences between these four Mini Channel grates.  The Interlaken is an intricate geometrical pattern while the Minnione has a flowing design.  The Locust pattern evokes the feel of leaves blowing in the wind.  Meanwhile, Carbochon’s open area is only accentuated by its bold pattern.

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Style aside, the most noteworthy difference in the grates is length. The Interlaken (11″ long) is an inch shorter than the Minnione and Locust grates (12″ long).  The Carbochon (14” long) outdoes all three grates by inches.  I think the length of the grates is important because it determines what you can do with the design of the run.  Unfortunately, it is often overlooked during the planning stage and leads to extra work later on.

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Another difference in the grates is how they fit into the Mini Channel.   Take a look at the photo above. Minnione, the thinnest grate, does not rest in the channel with the same depth that Interlaken, Locust and Carbochon do.  While the other grates are cast with tongues that fit snugly into the Mini Channel’s patented “flying buttress” lip, one gets the feeling that the Minnione sits on top of the drain rather than resting inside it.

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The foundry uses cast iron as the standard material when making these decorative grates but also manufactures cast brass, bronze and aluminum grating for an additional cost. We should note that cast iron grates are uncoated (raw) and will form a rust coating over time.  The rusting process, when reproduced artificially to save time, is called a baked-on oil finish.  I find the resulting patina charming.

If your application doesn’t support this view, though, consider painting with an epoxy or powder coating. The powder coating process smoothes out the natural texture of the cast iron grates, giving them a softer, less metallic look.  You can really feel the difference between the painted and baked-on oil finishes; the process encased these grates in paint rather than changing their outer layers.

Let me just demonstrate the difference between the two available finishes in another way.  Look at the Interlaken grates shown below:  in terms of color, they are very similar.  But, if you look closer you can see the different shine, the thickly coated surface of the grate on the right.  It’s been powder coated.  The grate on the left, though, has a baked-on oil finish.   I’ll leave you to decide which one you like better.  For additional information on cast iron grating finishes, visit our “Cast Iron Finishing Options” blog.

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Cost is all in a person’s perspective, especially when talking about trench drain products. A simple plastic grate that comes in six basic colors is available for a very low price per foot. NDS’ brass grate, a beautiful, no-hassle solution for those still worried about rust or decor, is the most expensive. The cast iron grates, which add style and variety, come for the more moderate price that falls somewhere in between and have beautiful finish options. They are the true extra mile, the art to efficiency, and are the balance if a cost-efficient and stylish grate is desired.

For cut sheets and literature on the products discussed here, download the available drawings embedded throughout the article.  If you’d like a quote on a Mini Channel drain system or decorative cast iron grating, contact Trench Drain Systems (TDS) at 610-638-1221 or send an email.

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