Trench Drain Systems gets a lot of questions about the 5 inch NDS Pro-Series product line. Our expert, John, went over some standard product features to help you know a bit more about the drains.
NDS designed the channels to join together without couplers. They fit together tongue-and-groove.
That’s already an improvement. Most residential drains need an extra part to fit together, and eliminating that saves a lot of hassle.
But each channel also has these anchoring ribs every 4 inches that really grab the concrete. If you need a smaller piece of drain, just cut at any of these points to get a smaller channel that still interlocks.
Pro Series outlets connect directly, whether it’s this bottom outlet or an end outlet. Everything attaches to 3” S&D and 4 inch S&D fitting SPT.
The shallow version – yes there’s a shallow option – only has an inch and a half outlet for Sch. 40 pipe. There’s no built-in bottom outlet, but the shallow profile DOES have a nifty extension for 3 inch S&D bottom outlets and inch and a half side outlets.
Now. If you choose the Deep or Shallow profile … either way, they connect the same, and they take the same grates.
And those grates have a lot of variety.
5″ Pro Series has a gray perforated grate perfect for pedestrians. With these small openings, you get a trade-off: It doesn’t handle much water but it is ADA compliant and heel-friendly.
This light traffic grate handles almost three times as much water as the perforated grate. It’s also more robust, so you can drive across it. This one’s the most popular option because it comes in 6 colors and is still ADA Compliant.
These two grates are commercial-grade. Both are H-20 load rated, so start thinking tractor-trailers and forklifts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The straight wall construction of Mini Channel makes it compatible for most paver projects, while also being great in poured concrete decks.
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.
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.
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.
Likewise, 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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
It acts as a guide to assist in manual trimming of the channel,
It gives more rigidity to the channel body, and
It is part of a new, snap-fit tongue-and-groove channel connection design.
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.
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.
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:
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!!
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.
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.!!!
The new design eliminates hard edges and flashing made when using the old injection mold die. The new die gives the grates a smoother look and the Mini Channel system a cleaner appearance.
The new Mini Channel grate pattern isn’t just for appearance’s sake, either. The new mold lengthens the plastic grate’s supporting ribs, which run perpendicular to the trench’s length (think hamburger, not hot dog). Supporting ribs increase a grate’s longevity under traffic and serve to make the plastic channel grate sturdier. The better a grate’s support structure, the less vehicle stress will affect it.
While the updated look on the Mini Channel won’t increase the channel drain’s overall load bearing capacity, it does make the grate more rigid.
It is important to point out that this improvement didn’t increase the cost of the Mini channel grating. For an estimate on a Mini Channel system for your patio application, request pricing from one of the specialists at Trench Drain Systems today.
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!
We left off our previous blog after after introducing standard grating options such as the plastic slotted grate and the painted black iron grate. The neat thing, though, is that multiple grates fit the 12″ x 12″ size profile adapters and catch basins.
Three new grating options recently became available to the market, which open up the design possibilities for every budget. Now there are designer grates available in plastic, cast iron and reinforced stone.
Designer Plastic Grates by NDS
Earlier this year, NDS came out with two new grating designs that are expected to replace the standard plastic slotted catch basin grate. Their Wave (left) and Botanical patterns (right) come in four colors and fit the 12” x 12” catch basins and low profile adapter for both NDS and ADS products. They are interchangeable. The price of these designer grates are a few dollars more than the standard slotted plastic grates. This allows for the affordable replacement of existing basin grates.
Decorative Cast Iron Grates by Iron Age Designs
Iron Age Designs has been around for a few years in the designer cast iron grate market. Their 12” x 12” catch basin grating options, designed to fit the NDS 1200 basin series, are top notch. Coincidently (or by default), they also fit the ADS and Old Castle 12” catch basin product lines. These grates are strong enough to use in a driveway drainage application. They will easily support the weight of a delivery truck or car. Expect to pay over $100 dollars for one of these grates. Also, expect years of enjoyment from one of these grates being an heirloom in your outdoor living space.
Color Coordinated Stone Grating by Jonite
Jonite has been around for years but is only now getting a foothold in North America. Headquartered in Singapore, they supply decorative grating and custom furniture made from a reinforced stone composite. The product they manufacture is resort quality. This is a drain option to be considered for a paver, tile or stone deck around your pool or in your outdoor living space. For custom jobs, Jonite is able to make personalized designs and match existing stone colors and textures.
The product selection in the United States is limited but growing. Six color options are available which match a common assortment of pavers and tile flooring. The photo below shows three patterns; Slotted, Baby Pebbles and Chiseled Rain. More options are to be available soon.
Any of the products you’ve seen today are available from Trench Drain Systems. Patio and driveway drainage kits are available online at www.DrainageKits.com. If you have any questions, please contact a Trench Drain Systems expert at 610-638-1221 or via email.
Every so often an ADP (American Drainage Products) plastic grate is mistaken for NDS Spee-D Channel. There is a good reason for that. ADP was a company based out of Columbus, Ohio who carried a product line that overlapped with those offered by NDS (National Diversified Sales). In 1997, NDS purchased ADP and incorporated their product line into the NDS offering. The redundant products have been supported by NDS over the years but are being phased out. That is the case for the ADP 2” and 4” channel drains. Replacement components, such as plastic grates, and some channels are still sold by NDS, though they are difficult to locate.
ADP 2” Channel Grate – As first glance, the 2” ADP grate can be mistaken for an NDS channel grate because it is made in the same style as the NDS Mini Channel. The thin, slotted plastic grates come in an assortment of colors (shown below). The slots have a center rib running down the length of the grate, which makes it more structurally sound and gives it the “double slotted” look.
Distinguishing features between the two grates can be seen in the photos shown below. While the Mini Channel grate (left) is 2.75” wide and 36” long, the ADP Channel grate (right) is 2” wide and only 24” in length. Another subtle difference between the two can be seen in the screw hole locations. The longer Mini channel grate only has four locations screw holes used to attach the grate to the channel while the 2” ADP grate has six screw holes.
Grates are not the only replacement component available for the 2” channel system. End caps, channel couplers and channel supports can also be purchased for this system. Channels are available in 4 foot lengths but are not being advertized because NDS is trying to phase out this product line. If you like this product, you’d better hurry before it is gone forever.
ADP 4” Channel Grate – For the longest time, I incorrectly thought that the ADP 4” channel was a Spee-D Channel system. The two products are so similar, it can fool you. I was first introduced to the ADP 4” channel when I was replacing a trench drain in a customer’s driveway. The 4” channel drain had been installed in the drive without the proper support by the previous contractor and failed under use. When I removed the channel, I recall thinking that this must have been an older version of Spee-D channel because it had a few style differences yet still looked identical to the Spee-D Channel.
Many similarities exist between the Spee-D and ADP 4” systems. Channels are extruded gray PVC plastic and supplied in 10 foot lengths. The 4” wide grates are 24” long and are slotted with a similar slot design. But upon closer evaluation, the Spee-D grate (left) is about 1/8” narrower than the ADP 4” grate. In addition, the ADP grate (right) has slots with squared corners and screw holes that are directly opposite of each other.
Many more differences are apparent when you compare the bottom side of these grates. The Spee-D grate has a thicker, shorter rib section which defines the slot. The ADP 4” grate has thin, deeply protruding rib sections. These thin ribs, while making the grate more rigid, may also make the grate more brittle and easier to crack during aging. Another difference between these two grates can be seen in the lips that fit into the channel: the Spee-D grate has an elongated edging while the ADP product has a V-notch.
There are other grate options for the ADP 4” wide grate. One really interesting option is the flanged grating (shown on the top in the photo above). The purpose of the flange was to cover up or mask the plastic channel edging so there would not be a color mismatch in the trench drain after installation. I suspect, however, that the edging tended to fatigue and break under use. Maybe this is why NDS hasn’t used this idea in their existing product lines.
The ADP 4” grates of both styles are available in four colors: black, sand, green and gray. The flanged 4” wide grate is also available in the color “brick”. End caps, outlets, couplers and channel supports are also available for this system. While NDS no longer advertises these channels, they are available (for now).