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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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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

buy plastic grates online, buy 5" plastic grates, buy nds drains online, 5 inch pro series buy nowAn 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).

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There are at least three companies that manufacture a 12” x 12” low profile adapter: ADS (American Drainage Systems), NDS (National Diversified Sales) and Old Castle (Formerly Carson Industries). All three companies have slightly differing product designs while maintaining the ability to accept a 12” x 12” x 1.25” thick grating. Two of these are compared below. At first glance, the ADS and NDS low profile adapters seem the same. And, from a strictly drainage functionality aspect, they are.

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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.

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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.

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