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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!!
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
NDS offers a line of channel drain systems called the “Pro Series”. These channels are injected, molded from polyvinyl chloride, and have a neutral slope (no slope). They come in a variety of widths (3”, 5”, 8” and 12”). According to NDS literature asterisk notes, this product is technology licensed from the Italian trench drain manufacturer First Corp.
This product line really has many options if you don’t want pre-sloped channels. From a manufacturing point of view, it makes sense. NDS production facilities would need to stock a bunch of injection mold dies of varying depth in order to make pre-sloped channel systems Injection mold dies are expensive!
With the Pro Series, NDS instead opted to make four channel widths to account for different flow situations. Three of the widest products have two depths (shallow and deep channels). So, in effect, there are seven different channel options in the Pro Series.
The photo above shows three of the four width options (I didn’t show the 12” wide option). The 3” and 5” wide channels come in 40 inch lengths (1 meter). The 8” and 12” wide channels come in 20 inch lengths (1/2 meter).
Pro Series Channels Mean a Flexible Layout
A key feature of the Pro Series trench drain product line is the ability to cut the channels to any desired size. The channels come with a “double ridged” cut line every four inches (4”) along the length of the channel. This makes it possible to trim, for instance, 8 or 12 inches from the channel in order to custom fit the drain into a tight area.
Trim the channel using a simple hand saw. By making your cut in the slot formed by the double ridges, you can easily change the length of the drain while retaining an edge that allows all the standard hardware (end caps and other channels) to be attached . There is no patching of the channel in a custom length situation.
While you can cut a channel to a specific length, specialty channels are available for making 45 and 90 degree bends in the drain.Side outlets are available in 5” and 8” wide channels. Another notable feature is that every channel has a bottom knockout. This gives you flexibility when it comes time to place a bottom discharge. You can place a bottom outlet wherever you want.
Pro Series Grates: Know Your Options
Grating options are not extensive with this brand and vary by channel size. For instance, the 3” wide Pro Series channel only has a gray plastic grate suitable for pedestrian or light vehicle traffic. This may be adequate for home owners that are looking for a budget driveway drain.
The 5” wide Pro Series drain, however, has the most grating options. Plastic slotted grates (class B loading) are available in six (6) colors. Perforated plastic grating is available, but only in gray. A cast iron grate and a high impact resistant plastic slotted grate are also available in 5” width.
The 8” and 12” wide Pro Series products have fewer grating options. With the 8” wide channels, you have a choice of three plastic grates, one of which is perforated, and one slotted cast iron grate. The 12” wide channel only has a plastic slotted grate (light vehicle traffic) and a cast iron grate for heavy traffic. All grates, no matter the width, come in 20 inch lengths.
One thing I like about the Pro Series product line over other NDS brands (such as the Mini or Spee-D series) is that it offers more durability and life to your drain system because of the grate to channel width relationship. I feel it is important to have your grate wider than the channel of the trench. This is particularly important in plastic trench drain products. If the grate is wider than the channel, then the concrete that surrounds the trench will be giving added strength to the channel. Systems that don’t have this added support have to rely solely on the strength of the plastic channel. In this later case, if the ledge that supports the grate breaks, the load capabilities of the grate fail. More on this when I cover other NDS channel drains.
List prices of the NDS Pro Series cover a broad spectrum. The least expensive is, of course, the 3” wide system and prices go up as do the channel widths. Grates with higher load capabilities also come at a premium.