Tag Archives: plastic trench drain

Four Considerations when Choosing your Swimming Pool Deck Drain

When faced with the prospect of selecting a channel drain for your swimming pool deck, your task can seem overwhelming.  Your contractor may only have a handful of the drain products available in his regional marketplace.  Additionally, if you are looking for custom or design-specific grating options, you may have to spend many nights researching on your own for a product that is just right.  A deck drain consultant can be a big time saver.

Pool deck drain selection is a balancing act between deck design, functionality, aesthetics, safety and cost.  It is important that the pool owner weigh the relative value that each of these features have to his project prior to designing the pool drain.

1. Budget Considerations

Is cost the overall driving factor in your selection?  Or, would you consider a drain with a little something extra to act as a conversation piece?  In the pool drain world, there is a broad spectrum of product costs.  The standard 1.5″ wide deck drains, which inevitably get clogged and break, are at the bottom of the spectrum.  From there, systems are available in all cost ranges, up to 10 times the cost of the low end product.  I should point out that quality systems are available at affordable prices for those watching the budget.  In general, pre-sloped systems are more expensive than neutral (non-sloped) systems.  However, pre-sloped systems have installation advantages that we will point out below.

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2.  Functionality Considerations

When I start discussing a pool deck drain with a client I ask them, “How is the pool deck to be constructed?”   Is the deck made of poured concrete, pavers, or tile?  All drains can be installed in a concrete deck construction, but not all drains work well with paver stone or tile.   Drainage systems that are designed with straight walls provide a linear surface that are great for laying paving stones against.  If the drain body has legs or support structure that are too close to the top edge of the channel, abutment of pavers will be compromised.

Examples of this are shown below.  Mini Channel and Polycast are both systems with straight walls and play well with paving stone.  Dura Slope and Pro-series #5 have rebar connection features that make it impossible for pavers to lay adjacent.  These latter products need to be encased in concrete prior to laying the paving stone.  In streetscape applications, this may be a reasonable design approach.

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6″ Dura Slope (left), 4″ Spee-D Channel (right)

3.  Drain Capacity

Wrapped in this conversation we should begin to consider how large of a drain we need for the deck application.  How large is the project and how much water is the drain required to handle?  Is this an Olympic sized pool or are we looking at a back yard sauna?  Long drains generally need to have a pre-sloped channel body if you plan to have only one drain outlet.  Neutral drain bodies, like NDS Mini Channel, can be used in long or complex drain designs as long as they are designed with bottom outlets every 15 – 20 feet.  This requires a parallel plumbing design running beneath the deck drain.  Though a little more complex in the construction, frequent bottom outlets gives you design flexibility that you can’t get with some wider, higher volume deck drain systems.

4.  Aesthetic and Safety Considerations

Once a deck drain is installed in your pool, the only evidence you have is the top grate – or grille, as some call it.  The selection of the grate will determine how much attention is brought to the drain and how safe the grate will be to pool goers.  My first “Rule of Thumb” is to make deck drain grates “barefoot friendly”.  The openings should be small enough to prevent a toe from getting caught in it.  This is not always possible if you have some really inquisitive children, however.

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Decorative grates bring an added touch of elegance to the pool deck, but need to be selected with safety in mind.   Cast iron metal grating not only can rust and become unsightly but have a high heat capacity that are hot to the touch during summer months.  Plastic, aluminum and bronze grates seem to be a more popular grating choice for deck drains in high foot traffic areas.

Grating color is another aesthetic parameter that comes into play.  Grates made from plastic, metal and stone are all available in a varieties of color.  White, tan and light grey are the three most popular deck drain colors.  Darker grey grates are used in bluestone and some paver pool deck designs.  Brass, bronze, stainless steel, cast iron and aluminum grates are popular in modern, designer pools.

Where to do research…..

After you have a drain design roughed out, visit www.DrainageKits.com and see some of the options available in kit form for pool applications.  Look through all the drain options, not just pool and patio drains.  You will be able to see options and pricing.  While doing this research, you will begin to narrow down exactly what it is you want.  If you still need to discuss the project, contact one of the drain professionals at Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221.  They can offer more direction to your search and help with the project estimate.

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Trench Drain Systems (TDS) is a leading supplier of trench and channel drain systems for residential and commercial applications.  In addition to having a full line of products used for walk-in shower and driveway drainage applications, they carry an attractive assortment of swimming pool deck drains that are chosen for both their safety features and great looks.

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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:

  1. nds mini channel, mini channel, plastic channel drain, plastic pvc drain,
    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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NDS Revamps 5 inch Pro Series

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In 2012, NDS rolled out an improved channel for the 5 inch Pro Series. The 5 inch Pro Series is the workhorse of the Pro Series line, which ranges from 3” – 12” wide. The 5 inch Pro Series is sold in hardware stores around the country, though only in kit form. If you want to buy special grates or additional components, you’ll need to find an online store.

Rebar Connection

The first striking difference between the new and old design is the rebar attachment feature. (See below.) In the original rebar attachment design, a hole in the channel’s supporting foot allowed the installer to thread a piece of construction wire to connect rebar. The new rebar attachment design features a plastic clip that affixes to a No. 4 rebar (1/2”) without a tie wire.

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New channel design (left) vs. Old design (right)

Enhance Ribbing

The new 5 inch Pro Series model also sports a new rib design. The ribbing was originally designed into the system to define the location where the channel could be cut during final channel length adjustment. Compared above, one can see how one of the ribs in each pair has been extended. The extended rib has three purposes.

  1. It acts as a guide to assist in manual trimming of the channel,
  2. It gives more rigidity to the channel body, and
  3. It is part of a new, snap-fit tongue-and-groove channel connection design.

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There is a fourth purpose of the rib re-design, shown above. Three of the extended ribs have pedestal extensions, which are great for leveling the channel during installation on a tamped gravel surface. In the previous 5 inch Pro-Series design, the bottom outlet prevented the channel from setting level on a flat surface. The new design eliminates this issue to improve the overall installation experience.

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Improved Channel Connection

Probably the best outcome of the 5 inch Pro Series redesign is the new channel connection snap fit. Above, one can see both designs are still a tongue and groove fitting. The big difference is in the small “snap housing” at the top of the new design (left channel). Upon completion of the tongue and groove connection, a tab on the male end of the channel makes a “snap fit” with this housing and secures the assembly.

With the previous design, PVC glue was used to secure the channel connection. Though, PVC glue would make the joint between the two channels water tight, it’ application was sometimes an afterthought and made for a more complicated installation.

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 Different Plastic Composition

You may have noticed a slight color difference between the two channels in comparisons above. That’s because NDS altered the plastic composition of the channels. The early version was made of a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) composition while the new channel is made from Poly Ester (PE). The grates used in the system have not changed. They are still as reliable as they were in the past.

There are property differences between the two plastics. However, these differences may be more significant to the manufacturer than the customer. Two helpful observations I’ve made between the two plastics:

  1. You can’t use PVC Glue to connect your new 5 inch Pro Series channels. It doesn’t work. You’ll have to find another product other than “good ol’” PVC glue. I initially learned of the new channel design from an irate customer complaining that he couldn’t glue these new channels together. At that point, NDS still had an old installation data sheet circulating. Oops!!
  2. If you freeze and drop PVC components, they will crack. I learned this after receiving a January shipment of NDS PVC catch basins. The product arrived in the box shattered due to poor handling by the trucking company. If it was July, they probably wouldn’t have been broken.

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Channel Weight

The final difference between the two 5 inch Pro Series designs is the channel weight. The new channel weighs 15 percent less than the previous channel. This may be due to the actual density of the plastic itself. Or, it could be related to some reduced channel dimensions. My gut feeling is that the weight change is an inherent property of the plastic rather than reducing the amount of plastic in the design. In fact, with the added features of the new design, it seems that NDS has “beefed up” on the volume of this channel. Again, this is my gut feeling and not based on any technical evidence.

NDS’s design change to the 5 inch Pro-Series hasn’t changed the width or length, but new design features make installation easier. Some installation problems may crop up if one is trying to make a construction blending the two designs.

I’ll miss the old design because we spent so many years together. However, I look forward to working with this new channel. Good job NDS, Inc.!!!

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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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Infinity Drains: A New Era for the Shower Drain?

In our previous blog on stainless steel shower drains we touched on the growing trend of rimless showers. At the time, though, stainless steel was a high end solution and out of reach for many homeowners. The economy had consumers cutting back but the needs of the baby boomers were – and are – the same. It’s been a few years, but public interest in shower drainage systems never went away. Actually, I’ve seen the demand for information on shower drains increase.

I’m excited to say that shower drains are finally becoming a standardized product line. Some manufacturers make flanged shower drains from 28” to 70” long with six patterned grates. Others are more select, showing limited lengths on their stainless channels but offering artisanal grating options. True, custom stainless steel shower drains are still around in a big way, but they are becoming less necessary as standardized drains gain popularity. The setback isn’t in finding a drain anymore but in finding which drain works best.

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One of the newest concepts within the stainless steel drain market is that drain bodies no longer have to be stainless steel. One manufacturer, Infinity Drain, had the moxie to design a series of linear drain systems for showers that combine aspects of low profile channel drains and full-bodied stainless steel drain systems. Though their drainage systems have been used in patios, pools and driveways for some time, their products make the biggest mark on bathroom and shower drainage, a market previously dominated by expensive, custom stainless steel drains. Infinity Drain has opened a huge market for residential trench drains and trench drain users by offering not only full stainless steel systems but plastic-bodied linear drain systems with stainless steel grates, too.

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Infinity Drain has an edge over the competition. Unlike traditional center floor drains, which require a pitch in the floor in four different directions, Infinity Drain products allow the shower floor to be pitched in only one direction. The drain itself can be located anywhere in the shower stall because it features adjustable outlets. Eliminating restrictions on tile size or slab material within a shower, Infinity Drain systems allow for design flexibility.

The basic appeal of Infinity Drain is its simplicity. Take a look at the photos below. The AG Series, identified by its architectural slotted stainless steel grate, and the DG Series (stainless steel perforated grate) are the same system. Infinity Drain’s plastic-bodied AG and DG Series shower drains come in two widths: 38mm (1-1/2”) and 65mm (2-7/8”). While these grates and channels can be combined or cut to create custom lengths, Infinity Drain also acknowledged the current market standard by providing their linear drains in ready-to-assemble kits at set lengths.

Infinity Drain, plastic shower drainDG38 and DG65 PR

Another option is to “hide” the shower drain using the TIF Series (short for Tile in Frame). Like the AG and DG Series, it uses plastic channels that can be combined for any length of drain. Again, the only real difference here is the grating option. Instead of a slotted or perforated grate, the TIF Series uses a stainless steel grate frame that sits inside the channel. The frame supports a tile or solid insert to camouflage the drain. I think the result (shown below) is pretty cool.

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To those who prefer a stainless steel channel body but want design flexibility, Infinity Drain offers the AS Series (shown below), a full-bodied stainless drain that can be adapted for custom lengths that only comes in 2-7/8” wide. At only 1” tall, the channel is considered low profile and mostly used in shower areas with thin flooring; the shallow channel body also makes the AS Series grate unique to this product line. The AS grate has tightly grouped slot openings, meaning it has relatively less open surface area for water to drain through.

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There is an air of mystery surrounding the FX Series, a 2-3/4” wide stainless steel channel and grate system that comes in complete kits with a center outlet. Designed with fixed lengths, this system can be customized to a specific length or grate pattern by the manufacturer upon request, but this isn’t a do-it-yourself drain. Where would you be if all the bases weren’t covered?

Overall, if you are a homeowner and wanted a shower drain for your home, Infinity Drain has placed your goal within reach. They have taken the stainless steel market to an affordable level so you can obtain the quality of a stainless steel drain without dramatically affecting your pocketbook.

Now that more are more options on the market, I think it’s safe to say we are beginning to enter into a new shower age. With more reasonable options, the average consumer can re-design their bathrooms and showers to incorporate the trench drain and make it more accessible.

Trench Drain Systems is happy to have brought you this article. If you have a question about shower drains or any of the Infinity Drain product lines, send us an email. To discuss your application with one of our sales professionals, call us at 610-638-1221. 

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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.

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Common Plastic Terminology for Trench Drains

It’s time to discuss some plastic terminology!

Disclaimer: I am not an organic chemist or a plastics engineer. I’m gathering this information from other sources and I may not be explaining it as accurately as I need to.

Polyolefin — is a polymer produced from a simple olefin, or alkene as a monomer. For example, polyethylene is a polyolefin produced by “polymerizing” the olefin “ethylene”. Another common polyolefin is polypropylene. I consider polyolefin a general term for a family of plastics. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyolefin)

Polyethylene — is a semi-crystalline plastic with excellent chemical resistance, good fatigue, and wear resistance. They can have a wide range of properties which are determined by the length and degree of branching of their polymer chain. In general, polyethylenes have good resistance to organic solvents, high impact strength, are light weight, resistant to staining, and have a low moisture absorption rate. They are easy to distinguish from other plastics because they float in water. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyethylene)

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) — HDPE is the most common polyethylene used in industry. It offers excellent impact resistance and high tensile strength. Technically speaking, it has a low degree of branching and thus a stronger intermolecular forces. HDPE is non-toxic and meets FDA and USDA certifications for food processing. It is commonly used for the manufacturing of milk jugs, margarine tubs, detergent containers and trash cans. It is also an excellent material for use in trench drain and storm sewer pipe.

Polypropylene is an economical material that offers a combination of outstanding physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties not found in any other thermoplastic. It has a lower impact strength that does HDPE, but it also has better tensile strength and superior heat resistance.

Structural Foam — is a structure imparted to an olefin during processing that gives the plastic addition strength and resilience. More on this later.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) — Is a widely used thermoplastic polymer. Over 50% of the PVC products manufactured are used in construction as a building material. PVC offers excellent corrosion and weather resistance and has a high strength-to-weight ratio. PVC is inexpensive, easy to clean, and a popular replacement for wood and concrete building materials. It is used in house sidings, drainage pipe, window profiles and plumbing fixtures (such as some trench drain). Despite appearing to be an ideal building material, concerns have been raised about the costs of PVC to the natural environment and human health. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polyvinyl_chloride)

Fiberglass Reinforced Polyester — Polyester is a category of condensation polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. This group also includes polycarbonates. Polyesters are popular for being used as a woven fabric. When fiberglass is added to polyester, the resultant material is more durable and resistant to impact.

UV Inhibitors — These are chemical additives that are added to plastic which help to retard the damaging effects of ultraviolet light to the plastic.

Injection Molding — This is a forming method by which intricate trench drain products (or other plastic shapes) can be shaped. In this process, a heated and liquid thermoplastic is injected into a mold that contains a cavity that has the shape which is desired. Once injected with plastic, the mold and part is cooled. The resulting plastic shape is removed from the mold and trimmed of flashing (excess plastic). This method is needed to form pre-sloped trench channels. Though mold costs are expensive, one mold is required for each size of pre-sloped channel.

Extrusion — Another method of making trench channel is extrusion. In this process, a heated batch of thermoplastic is continuously injected through a water-cooled die. The shape of the die will determine the cross-section of the extruded part. This method can be used to make simple, non-complex parts such as pipe, tubes and u-shaped channels. The most inexpensive channel drain products are made using this forming method.

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Plastic Trench Drain vs. Residential Trench Drain

Are most residential drainage projects solved by plastic trench drain?

It’s starting to look that way.

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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.

Read: Top Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Plastic Trench Drain

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.

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Pro’s and Con’s of Plastic Trench Drain

When I started my career with trench drain, I didn’t know the critical questions that determine whether plastic trench drain is appropriate in a drainage project.

At the time, I handled a polymer concrete product line. Polymer concrete is a mixture of an inert material (such as silica sand) and a two part polyester resin binder. The sand-resin mixture is poured into a mold, where the bond sets and the shape dries. Further curing can then be done in large driers. The resultant product is heavy, hard, durable, and brittle.

My sales manager instructed me that polymer concrete trench drain products were “good” or “superior” and plastic products were “bad”. Of course, he had a vested interest in promoting his polymer concrete trench drain. It made me ponder the reasons that lead to the contractor’s decision to use one material versus another material.

Since then, I have seen enough applications and selling situations of trench drain to have legitimate opinion on what is “good” trench drain and what is “bad”. And, from what I’ve seen, it’s all good…depending on whether or not you have the proper application.

When looking for a trench drain product, determine what is needed and what can be sacrificed. Where is the project? Is the aesthetics or functionality more important? Are you or someone else installing the product? What equipment is available to use in the installation? What are the load requirements for the drain? What is the budget? All these are necessary questions to the drain selection. And, all may have an impact on whether you use a plastic based product. Selection considerations are discussed below.

Advantages of Plastic Trench Drain:

trench drain grates, trench grates, channel drain grates, channel drains, plastic trench drain, patio trench, patio drain, drain channelGreater Selection Options — Plastic trench drains come in many widths, lengths and styles. Products are available in 1” to 21” widths and can come in up to 10 foot lengths.  Narrower channels use lightweight grates with decorative options.  On the larger side, plastic trench drains can use heavy duty iron grates for situations with heavy vehicle traffic.

Plastic Trench Drain is Light Weight — Being lightweight gives plastic trench drains two benefits:

  • Easier handling during installation — One person can handle a 10 foot section of drain. Other products, such as polymer concrete and fiberglass, are heavy and come in shorter lengths.
  • Better shipping — Small orders of plastic trench drain can be shipped by UPS or Fedex. Similar orders of polymer concrete product would require a freight hauler and a fork truck to unload.

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Ease of Installation — The high degree of processing sophistication allows for superior trough designs that promote an easy installation. The designers thought through the contractor’s process and came up with plastic drainage systems that are both adjustable and quickly installed.

Lower Product Costs — Plastic trench drain is more affordable than polymer concrete drains at widths up to 8”. Plastic systems also offer a wider range of decorative grating options, corner angles and color choices.

Forgiving to Impact (at times) — If you drop a section of plastic trench drain on the floor, it won’t break like polymer concrete will.

Disadvantages of Plastic Trench Drain:

Freeze/Thaw problems — Plastic has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion than does polymer concrete. This can lead to problems in environments that see extreme cold and heat. The trench drain can separate from the concrete that holds it in place.

Extreme Cold Impact Problems — Some plastic will shatter if it sees an impact while frozen. Some plastic trench drain will do the same.

Low Industrial Strength — Some plastic products promote their ability to handle heavy load applications. And though the grate they provide may meet the load requirement, the channel itself may display low integrity.

Durability — In general, plastic trench drain doesn’t have the life as polymer concrete.

This list of advantages and disadvantages is not exhaustive. It’s just what I can think of today. Maybe you have some other ideas. If so, let me know. Email me with comments or questions! Feel free to speak to one of the professional sales staff at Trench Drain Systems by calling 610-638-1221.

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