Tag Archives: decorative grating

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.


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.


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


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!


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.



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.


Product Comparison – Zurn Z880 vs. NDS Mini Channel

The Z880 Perma Trench is one of Zurn’s most popular residential trench drain product lines.  Its name may sound intimidating, but there’s nothing to fear from this plastic drain.  It was designed for pools, patios and landscape drainage much like its competitor, the NDS Mini Channel.  Both the NDS Mini Channel and the Z880 are 3” wide at the top, and both systems have similar features that give each other a run for the money.

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NDS Mini Channel drain compared alongside Zurn Z880 residential trench drain

Channel Body Differences

The difference between the two systems really starts with the channel bodies.  Take a look at the photo above.

The Mini Channel (shown left) has a gray, honeycombed channel design meant to distribute load stress and prevent the system from collapsing.  This design extends to the grate supports, which hang out from the channel walls in an upside down flying buttress.

You can see that the Zurn Z880 (shown right) has a thicker, solid channel body. It is composed of high density polyethylene (HDPE), the same material as the Zurn Z886 or NDS Dura Slope commercial-grade trench drain systems.  The inherent durability of the channel body gives some “street cred” to this little patio drain.

The Z880 channel body also has “ribs” extending from the outer walls that give the channel extra surface area at vital contact points to the surrounding concrete.  The ribs help “grab” the concrete, anchoring the system in place and providing additional strength.  The channel will not separate from the concrete once installed.  The ribs also add flexibility to the design of the system because they serve as cutoff points in the drain that can still connect to other modular channels or outlets.  I’d estimate the cutoffs are every foot.

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Zurn Z880 plastic drain features include ribs and support legs

The walls of the Mini Channel are made of smooth PVC.  The absence of ribbing is advantageous when installing in a paver patio but poses a problem in the long run if you want to install it in concrete.  Without ribbing to act as anchoring points, the drain body can begin to separate from the concrete years after installation.  In addition, water and dirt may begin to flow between the concrete-channel interface, causing the channel to pinch.  To prevent this pinching effect and the subsequent weakening of the channel wall, make certain that the Mini channel grates are always securely fastened down.

Grating Option Comparison

While Mini Channel grates come in a standard slotted pattern, the Z880 grates (shown below) have a more decorative pattern that gives them a classier appearance.  The thicker grate also holds more weight, providing more structural integrity than thinner Mini Channel grates, but ultimately has less open area for water to drain.

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Color options for the Z880 plastic trench drain system

The Z880 and Mini Channel systems each offer six color options which are the same with one exception.  The Z880 offers a sky blue grate while the Mini Channel offers a forest green grate.

If you choose the Z880 system, you’ll be surprised to see that the channel matches the grates’ color.  Unlike pool drains by other suppliers, the Zurn Z880 eliminates this “edge line of a different color” that borders the grating.  This gives the system an overall nicer appearance.

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Z880 grating matches the trench channel body

Grates for the Z880 system clip into place.  Each grate has several “tongues” on its sides that snap into the channel grooves.  It’s easier than buying grate screws and lock downs, won’t create weak points in the channel structure and can be popped out of place easier for cleaning.

Iron Age Grating Options – Cast iron decorative grating is available for both drainage systems.  Created by Iron Age Designs, the grates are both beautiful and efficient.

The Mini Channel has four decorative patterns that fit the system, three of which are shown below:  Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken.  Each grate is slightly different in terms of thickness and how it sits inside the channel.   Iron Age cast iron grates make NO accommodations for screws needed to lock down the grate.

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The Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken decorative iron grates by Iron Age Designs

So far there is only one cast iron grate option offered by Iron Age for the Zurn Z880 pool drain.  What amazes me about the pattern is that it’s a Regular Joe.  No, really, it is.  I’ve never found out who was behind it, but somewhere along the lines the decorative option for the Z880 drain became a cast iron slotted grate.  Of course, it looks entirely more sophisticated than a standard slotted grate, but it’s something I’ve never stopped being amused about.

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Zurn Z880 plastic grate compared to Regular Joe by Iron Age Designs

One thing that is not amusing about the Regular Joe grate for the Z880 is the placement of its “tongues.”  In the picture above, you can see the inconsistency between the plastic Zurn grate and the Iron Age Designs option.  The lockdown tongue on the cast iron grate is placed too high, which means it probably won’t secure into the channel properly.

I don’t want to sell the Z880 drain short, though.  Zurn does offer four other decorative options, including a bronze decorative grate, for homeowners who want to upgrade from plastic without buying the Iron Age grate.

Whereas, the Mini channel may wear and tear more quickly (especially in regions of freeze-thaw) because of the cellular channel design, the Z880’s solid body design and anchoring points makes it a more rugged product over the long haul.  The Mini Channel is a sleeker, less expensive channel drain system that works well when used with pavers. The Z880 is a sturdier system designed for concrete installation. These two systems are so similar, yet they are worlds apart.

For design assistance and pricing on any of these products, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 or send us an email.


The Catch Basin Medley: Know Your Options

buy plastic grates online, buy 5" plastic grates, buy nds drains online, 5 inch pro series buy nowThe size, shape and material used to make a catch basin vary based on its intended application.  Round plastic catch basins are smaller and usually found in residential applications while larger, cement basins are used for heavier duty projects.  Many residential basins – even those on the larger side of the scale – feature optional decorative grating to make a potentially ugly drainage product look more appealing and less intrusive.

Over time, our sister blog has written several useful articles on the applications, sizes, installation methods and features of catch basins.  They are listed with excerpts below:

Catch Basins and Downspout Drainage

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“A driveway that slopes into a garage can direct storm water toward the house.  Trench drain can be used to remedy this drainage problem by helping to redirect water away from the garage or living space.  However, a big contributor to the water problem can also be downspout water.  Driveways often have downspouts that drain roof water directly onto the pavement.  If the driveway doesn’t slope away from the house or allow for adequate drainage, water pooling or flooding can occur.  This article is about how simple catch basins can help to re-route downspout water…”

Large Residential Catch Basin Options

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“There are a number of options available for landscape contractors and homeowners who need a large catch basin.  By large, I am referring to a basin with a maximum size of 2’ x 2’.  A catch basin of this size (2’ x 2’) is at the boundary that separates commercial products from residential products.  Basins larger than 2’ x 2’ are generally made with the intention of being exposed to heavy traffic.  This article will be discussing some of the “large” catch basin products available for residential application…”

 Residential Downspout Catch Basin Installation

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“I like to think of a catch basin as the “first line of defense” in cleaning up rain water and drainage pipes.  It is common for homeowners to put their downspout water into a pipe that then travels out to the street or a back yard location.  This often leads to clogged drainage pipes.  Over time, leaves, sticks and sand particulate from roofing shingles will build up in the pipe to gradually reduce drainage efficiency.  A catch basin helps to reduce this problem in two ways.  First, the grating that covers the basin filters out the coarse debris that finds its way through the downspout, thus “catching” the biggest contributing factor to clogged drain pipes…” 

To purchase any of the catch basins in these blogs, visit our online store or contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.


NDS 8″ Pro Series Channel Drain

Recently, a number of people contacted us regarding the NDS 8 inch Pro Series Channel Drain. In a previous article, the 8” Pro Series was mentioned, though not in any great detail. In this article, I’ll elaborate on the channel and grating features this popular channel drain system.

The Pro Series by NDS

The Pro Series is a family of plastic channel drain products manufactured by National Diversified Sales (NDS) under licensing agreement from First Plast S.R.L. (Italy). There is a similar product line in Brazil made by Tigre Plastics that may be licensed under an agreement with First Plast, as well.

These injection molded channels are made with PVC containing ultra violet light inhibitors to help prevent fading and cracking. Pro Series channels are neutral (non-sloping), reinforced with ribbing every 4 inches and come in widths of 3”, 5” 8” and 12”. Options on grating, channel length, corner sections and outlets differ between the various width products.

However, each Pro Series channel features a unique, interlocking end joint connection. The reinforcement ribbing doubles as a cutting point (in the event that the channel needs to be shorted) which maintains the interlocking end joint connection. These features help make the Pro Series product line a smart, affordably drainage system for residential applications.

8” Pro Series Channel Details

The 8” Pro Series channel is used in applications where rain water accumulates rapidly or in applications requiring a larger runoff reservoir than is offered by the smaller Pro Series products. Technically speaking, the 8” Pro Series is named for its  width, which is actually 7.875 inches wide. The channel width, or throat, is about 6 inches wide. All channel lengths are ½ meter (20 inches) and are available in shallow or deep profiles (shown below).

The 8” shallow channel is about 4 ½ inches from the top of the grate to the bottom of the channel. Each shallow channel will hold 2 gallons under static conditions (no flow). The 8” deep profile channel, in comparison, is 7 ¼ inches in height and will hold 3.5 gallons under no-flow conditions. The amount of runoff water that these drains will effectively handle depends on the length of the drain, the diameter of the pipe used to drain the system, the pitch of the channel and the size of the openings in the grate used with the system. NDS has technical data that can be used to design a trench drain system capable of withstanding rainfalls typical to your geographic location.

8” Pro Series Outlet Options

Both the shallow and deep profile channels have end caps that can double as a 3” or 4” sewer and drain pipe connections. (See Below) These end caps have knock out sections of plastic that enable water to flow out or in. The shallow profile channel has an additional fitting that allows 3” or 4” S&D pipe to be attached to the drain from the side or the bottom of the channel. The deep profile channel doesn’t have this option. Again, there are knock out plastic sections that cover each of the pipe attachments on this special outlet.

8” Pro Series Grating Options

NDS sells 4 grating options for the 8″ Pro Series. Each grate is 7 ¾ inches wide, 19 5/8 inches long and ¾ inches deep. You will need to have one grate for every section of channel, as they are the same length. Each grate is connected to the channel by 4 stainless steel screws (sold separately).

Two of the most common 8” Pro Series grates are shown below. The top grate in this photo is a pedestrian rated perforated grate (Part No. 836) which is ADA compliant and can drain 15.33 GPM per linear foot of grating. The bottom grate is the standard light traffic slotted grate (Part No. 837) that has over twice the draining capability of the perforated grate. Both grates are made of high impact Polyolefin and are light gray in color. Not shown in this photo is a glass reinforced nylon slotted grate (Part No. 838), which is said to be able to withstand heavy truck traffic while also being ADA compliant.

Two cast iron grates are available for the 8” Pro Series. These are shown below. The black slotted grate (Part No. 888) is made by NDS, has 54 GPM drainage capability per linear foot of grating and is able to withstand truck traffic. The decorative grate beneath the slotted grate is called the 8” Carbochon and is made by Iron Age Designs. This grate was specifically designed to fit the 8” Pro Series channel, is made of ductile iron, is ADA compliant and has a higher open surface area per foot than any of the NDS grating options.

The Carbochon grate isn’t supplied with bolt-down holes or a protective coating to prevent rust. However, the aesthetics and pricing of this Ironage product make it an attractive option to the standard slotted cast iron grate. The Carbochon grates are available from Trench Drain Systems and can be purchased with an oil-baked finish or a custom epoxy coating.

Pro Series Installation Features

The Pro Series channels have three useful installation features that are common to all available sizes. These are illustrated in the photo below.

Pro Series channels have a unique interlocking channel design that is the key to their modular system success. This “tongue and groove” design allows each channel to securely lock to the adjoining piece. The “male” end of the channel easily slides into the “female” side of the adjoining channel when adding length to the drain. This connection joint can be made stronger by using PVC cement at the contacts prior to locking the channel together.

Another key feature that makes the Pro Series a unique modular system is the reinforcing ribs. Not only do the ribs give the channel walls rigidity, they are designed to be a cutting point for channel shortening while still keeping the “male” end of the channel that is necessary for attachment. No other trench drain system on the market has this feature.

Each channel also has “feet” that can be used as a rebar attachment site during installation. Generally, rebar is hammered into the ground at the foot locations. Wire is then wrapped securely around the rebar and channel foot. Final adjustment can be made to the channel to ensure the top of the drain is set to the desired elevation prior to pouring concrete. Instead of rebar, wood stakes can be used. In this case, wood screws can be used to firmly attach the channel foot to the installation stake.


In summary, the NDS 8″ Pro Series is a high volume channel drain for residential applications. The wider channels help insure that water is quickly removed from hardscapes. The unique design of the Pro Series facilitates ease and speed of installation. Grating options are comparatively meager, but growing due to the new selections becoming available by Iron Age Designs. For questions regarding this product line, contact the folks at Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.


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.