Category Archives: Stegmeier

Stegmeier plastic channel drains and residential plastic drain comparisons

Extruded Channel Drains (Part 2)

Last entry discussed differences and commonality between extruded channel drains manufactured by NDS and Stegmeier. I wanted to continue along this path and discuss two other very similar extruded products — NDS’s Spee-D Channel and Stegmeier’s Flowmaster. The Flowmaster is marketed as a professional grade channel drain for swimming pool decks. The Spee-D Channel is sold as a general purpose drain for residential applications that include driveways, paver patios and pool decks. Let’s first look at the two products side by side. NDS-Stegmeier-Comparison-pr1-300x199NDS Spee-D Channel is to the left while Stegmeier’s Flowmaster is to the right. Both channel drains have a similar cross section and have similar geometry. Both are about 5 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Both products are made from extruded PVC.

Two things stand out in the photo above. First, the wall thickness of the plastic is greater in the Stegmeier product. They also have a smaller amount of open air space than does the NDS product. This makes the Flowmaster channel much sturdier than the Spee-D channel. You can feel the difference when you hold the product. Normally, I don’t like to recommend extruded channel drains in regions that see frigid temperatures because of my concern for cracking during freezing and thawing. I think the Spee-D channel is susceptible to rapid deterioration in this environment. The Flowmaster channel drain stands a much better chance of holding up in colder regions because of the more rugged wall design.

The second apparent difference between these two products is the design of the grate rails. The Stegmeier product has a curved rail that requires a specially designed grate. The NDS product has a straight rail. This may not be much of a difference. But, I think the NDS design makes grate replacement and removal easier. Their design also lends itself to easy adaptation by other grate manufacturers.

Let’s look at some of the grating options of the two products. Below you see the Flowmaster with an aluminum slotted grate. It snaps into place wonderfully. You can buy this in three colors (silver, tan and white). This grate also comes in plastic (again three colors). However, if you wanted to use this product for anything other than a pool or deck application, you would have a difficult time with the grate. I feel the grate would compress or crush a little under car tire applications, for instance. Maybe I am trying to “over apply” this product.

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On the other hand, The NDS Spee-D channel has a variety of structural foam grating that is capable of small automotive traffic. If you want ornamental cast iron grating, it is available from Iron Age Designs. Maybe, the Spee-D channel doesn’t look as good as the Flowmaster in a pool deck application, but it has a broader residential appeal due to the grating options.

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Another difference between these two products is in the way they couple. The photo below shows NDS (left) and its well-engineered channel coupler versus Stegmeier’s simple design internal coupler. I don’t know which is best. I think the Stegmeier coupler is simple and gives a sturdier connection. I think the NDS system is neat looking, though. And my gut feeling is that the Stegmeier coupler will allow water to seep into the wall cells easier than the NDS coupler. It’s just my gut feeling folks!!

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I guess the last thing to talk about is pricing and availability. List prices of both channels are comparable. However, the popular home improvement stores usually carry the Spee-D channel at well below list pricing. Grating is where the pricing differences will be felt. The

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Flowmaster grates are generally more expensive than the “off the shelf” Spee-D channel grate. However, you will most likely have to special order any Spee-D channel grate if you don’t want gray plastic. Cast Iron grates for Spee-D channel can be ordered online in raw iron or with a Baked-on oil Finish. The Stegmeier channel products are sold in pool supply stores and by special order. Their distribution network is not as well developed as NDS. If you like the Flowmaster product line, and can’t find a dealer, you can purchase this product over the internet.

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Extruded Channel Drains (Part 1)

Last month, I wrote an article about a plastic channel drain product marketed by NDS under the “Pro Series” brand. This neutral channel product line is manufactured by injection molding. While injection molding is great for making intricate shapes, manufacturing costs associated with injection molding drive product costs up.

There are design and mold costs associated with all formed plastic products.  However, extrusion, as a plastic manufacturing method, is well suited for high volume, simple shape production.  Being a continuous method, the extrusion process is continuously producing products (more units per hour) and drives down unit of the finished part.

Designed in the cross-section shape of the final product, extrusion dies are less complicated and less expensive to make.  When hot plastic is passed through the die in the actual extrusion process, a continuous stream of product is made.  Plastic PVC pipe in manufactured by this process.

In the case of plastic channel drain, this “stream” of molded plastic comes out looking like a plastic roof gutter (see photo below).

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This article will address extruded plastic channel drains. In part 1, I will discuss common features in pool deck drains manufactured by NDS and Stegmeier. I also discuss the NDS Mini Channel product.

NDS Micro Series vs. Stegmeier Deck Drains

The NDS Micro and Stegmeier deck drains are narrow channel drains designed specifically for swimming pool decks. Generally speaking, these extruded PVC channels are 1.5” wide and 3.25“deep. The channels are used to form a perimeter around a swimming pool to create a drain for incidental pool water. All the products are designed to be installed in concrete.  However, channel anchoring techniques during installation differ between the two brands.

Below you can see the NDS Micro Channel (left) compared to Stegmeier’s standard deck drain. Both products are extruded “box” channels. Later, slots are cut into the top surface to form the drain holes. NDS seems to use a small mill to form this slot while Stegmeier appears to use a carbide saw blade. The NDS Micro is actually more narrow (1.25”) than the Stegmeier products (1.625”). The Stegmeier product also has a more rigid feel to it.

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NDS offers its Micro Channel pool deck drain in three different colors. That’s it. Stegmeier’s deck drains come in 4 colors and 4 styles. Two of the styles are like the above “box” channel with the integral drain grate. However, they have two other products that have an awesome “press fit” grate that make channel clean out very easy. Stegmeier’s Frontier Deck Drain has plastic “press fit” grates that come in 4 colors. Stegmeier’s Treadmaster Deck Drain has an aluminum grate for the more commercial swimming pool look. These grates come in tan, white and silver. I’m sorry I don’t have photos of these now. In the interim, check out their website www.stegmeier.com.

NDS Mini Channel – The next “size up” in extruded plastic channels is the NDS Mini Channel. This is a unique product that is both economical and sturdy enough to be used in light traffic areas. The 3” wide and 3” deep channel allows for larger water flow than deck drain while giving the home owner a greater selection of grating options. As with deck drains, the Mini channels are connected with couplings and are available with a broad selection of special junction sections.

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The highlight of the Mini Channel system is with the grating options. You can select from six colors of plastic slotted “light traffic” grates. These come in 3 foot lengths and can be screwed into place.  NDS also offers decorative plastic grates in two patterns and six color options.

If you want a more durable or ornamental product, you can have a slotted brass or cast iron grate. The brass grates are available in polished or brushed finishes and come in one foot lengths. The cast iron grate is available in four patterns (Minione, Interlaken, Carbochon, Locust).

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If you have any questions or comments on these products, please send us an email. You can also visit our website for more information on the NDS product lines.

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