If you’re using trench drain, it might as well look nice.
There are a growing number of trench drain installations being made using decorative or ornamental grating. While a number of companies in the marketplace supply truly top-shelf ornamental grating, Iron Age Designs has the most versatile product line at the most affordable pricing.
In this article, I’m not going to discuss grate pricing. I am going to show you 10 ductile iron ornamental grating products manufactured by Iron Age Designs. The designs are unique and creative. All the grates are ADA (American Disability Act) compliant and are strong enough to be used with vehicular traffic. Each grate displays a casting quality and detail that could someday be architecturally significant in identifying a style used in the early third millennium.
More importantly, each grate is made to fit a trench drain channel size that has become the industry standard. This grating interchangeability and the “coming of age” of surface water control in the United States have allowed Iron Age Designs to develop a niche product line. Iron Age developed a number of attractive ornamental grates that measure 5” x 20” and fit the ACO, MEA, Polydrain and JR Smith 100mm wide channels.
Let me begin by sharing a little history. ACO was the first prefabricated, pre-sloped polymer concrete trench drain manufactured in the United States and, possibly, in Europe. When the ACO Group (of Germany) first introduced their trench drain product line to the US market, they kept the metric dimensions used in Europe, having a standard channel length of 1 meter (approx. 40 inches) and the standard interior channel width of 100 millimeters (or about 4 inches). A cast iron grate to fit this channel is about 4.8” x 19.6” (or 122mm x 498mm).
ACO was very successful in the US market and quickly became the company to emulate. For instance, ABT developed a 1000mm x 100mm polymer channel to compete with ACO called PolyDrain. Plumbing giant Josam began distributing MEA products (also from Europe), which we currently know as the Mea-Josam product line. Even plumbing fixture company J.R. Smith licensed ACO technology to develop their Smith/ACO polymer concrete channel and EnviroFlo HDPE channel product lines.
Other manufactures followed suit. All of these products have a 1000 mm (1 meter) polymer concrete channel with a 100 mm interior width. In essence, this channel sizing has become the industry standard in the US, although there are other trench drain manufacturers, such as Zurn and Polycast, that have ignored the “me too” mindset and gone their separate way with the dimensions of the products they developed.
All this market imitation has led to a standardization of trench drain channel sizing, at least in the smaller products. All of the 1 meter x 100mm channels will support, essentially, the same grates between brands. Companies like ACO have tried to devise quick grate locking technology to separate themselves from the other manufacturers but, in the final analysis, all these channels can accept grating from competing manufacturers.
Iron Age is constantly adding to their product line. In fact, the Riverrock pattern shown at the beginning of this article was added to the Iron Age product line after all my photographs were taken. It is difficult to keep up with their complete product offering because they are always working on new projects. Their growing product line is an indication of their respected designs and their affordable pricing structure.
I’m not going to give specific pricing on these grates, but I will say they are roughly twice the price of a standard slotted ductile iron grate. Every grate you see in this article is the same price, though.
There is not one grate more or less expensive than another in this product grouping.
As mentioned previously, these grates are made of ductile iron. Manganese bronze or brass grating can be made in one of these patterns if you want, but be prepared to pay 5 times the price of a standard iron grate.
Of the 10 grate patterns shown above, the Interlaken is the most versatile. I’m saying this because Iron Age uses this pattern in a number of catch basins and other size trench drain systems. So, if you wanted to build a drainage system in your hardscape with more options than a single width trench drain, you will have more drainage structure options available if you use the Interlaken pattern. The Locust leaf pattern and Oblio are two other patterns that come in different sizes.