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!
Just about any place in need of a drainage point can use catch basins (or one of their many variations) to evacuate water. Homeowners can use catch basins for driveway drainage, pools, patio point drains and landscape area drains. And, the installation techniques employed will be as diverse as the application.
An interesting variation of a catch basin is the low profile adapter. This is truncated, or shallow housing that is designed to accept a standard 12” x 12” catch basin grate and allows for direct connection to a vertical drainage pipe. These drains are similar in character to single point floor drains used inside the home, but without the flanges and waterproofing features. They have no reservoir to collect debris from the run-off water. They simply fit on top of the vertical 3”, 4” or 6” PVC drain pipe that is part of the drainage system (shown below without grating).
Both products have a similar dimensioned housing to carry the grate. The grates used in each drain are actually interchangeable. Each product requires a twist-in adapter (3 – 4” and 6”) to interface with the drainage pipe. Both are black colored. Even the company acronyms are close. ADS? NDS? What’s the difference?
There are a few subtle differences between the two low profile adapters that become apparent when you hold them. The ADS product is made from Polyethylene (PE) whereas NDS makes their product from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Parts made from polyethylene are a little more flexible and durable than PVC parts. PVC is easier to crack or break, especially in cold temperatures. But this characteristic may not have any bearing on longevity or performance, especially when the drain is installed in concrete.
The flip-side of that material analogy is that PVC, being a slightly stiffer material, gives the impression that the NDS product is a well designed, cleaner fitting drain body. Of course, the ADS drain body has the same design quality as the NDS product. However, the flexibility and feel of polyethylene may give an impression of it being an inferior product. This is certainly not the case, however.
The pipe adapter is an important part of the low profile adapter. It is the link between the grate housing and the drain pipe. As we all know, there are many drain pipes that can be used for an outdoors application, depending on the amount of water anticipated. Generally, 3” and 4” diameter pipes will handle the flow of water experienced in a residential setting. The two adapters, shown above, are designed to attach to both pipe sizes, both PVC and corrugated PE. Both adapters work well with their respective drain housing. For higher volume flow applications, pipe adapters for 6” diameter pipes are available from both manufacturers.
When installed in a patio or driveway, the low profile drain will be hidden from sight and the only thing visible is the top grating. There are a number of products available made to fit both of these housings. Each manufacturer has their own set of standard plastic and cast iron slotted grates, which are affordable, functional and diverse. We will discuss more decorative grating options in our follow-up blog.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The 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:
“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…”
“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…”
“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.
Are most residential drainage projects solved by plastic trench drain?
It’s starting to look that way.
As society’s attention to stormwater runoff issues grows, so does our need to learn about water control products such as trench drains. Concrete and fiberglass trench drains dominated the commercial market for years. These polymer concrete or fiberglass based drainage systems proved too costly, which leaves plastic as the alternative material for household drainage products. For many homeowners, plastic trench drain offers the best value – if they can find a drainage system right for their needs.
Go to the local landscape supply or home improvement store and you’ll only see a small sample of plastic drainage products. Maybe you’ll even find actual trench drain on the shelves. But ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” Most likely, this is not what you originally envisioned. Maybe you expected a bigger variety. Maybe you are uncertain of all the products available on the market or how to find them.
PlasticTrenchDrain.com is here to shed some light on plastic trench drain systems and manufacturers plastic drainage products. Homeowners and contractors alike will see products and find possibilities to solve drainage problems using plastic systems.
I will occasionally give you website links that will help you on your quest for knowledge. I will show systems that meet your engineering requirements, budget and aesthetic needs. If you have immediate questions that need answering, feel free to leave a comment below or email me.