Pooling water can be a major issue, whether you are a business or a homeowner. Slip hazards, foundation and concrete erosion, leaks, and other issues can arise if the water puddles and stagnates on your property.
All of these issues can be quite costly in repairs and replacements. Regrading and redoing your entire hardscape can be a financial and logistical nightmare, so you probably want to avoid it.
This is where Polylok trench drains come in. Polylok trench drains are an evolution on the traditional trench drain design. These drains excel at quickly and safely moving water away from your surfaces.
Polylok trench drains might be the ideal solution for you if you struggle with drainage issues on your property. Read on for more information!

History of Trench Drains

Before we get into what makes Polylok trench drains so great, it’s important to discuss the history and use of trench drains in general.
Trench drains were originally developed in the United Kingdom for airports. The rainy climate meant that pooling water was a safety hazard for aircraft takeoffs and landings.
Engineers designed trench drains to quickly channel water away from the tarmacs. There is no need to rely on the usual curbs and gutters that would make navigating the tarmac difficult. Curb and gutter systems are also expensive to build.
Trench drains took off in popularity for different applications, such as landscaping and hardscaping, municipal designs, plant nurseries, and even home interior spaces such as showers and utility rooms.

What Are Trench Drains?

Trench drains are built into the ground or flooring. They are useful in situations when you need to channel large amounts of water away from the site, and fast. Trench drains can also hide utility lines or contain spills.
Trench drains consist of their namesake trench, usually in a “U” shape, that is set into the ground or flooring. A slotted grate that sits flush with the surface covers the drain, allowing for the drain to be unobtrusive and easily concealed.
This means that trench drains act as a gutter to channel water away from the site. Trench drains must be adequately graded to move water to prevent it from pooling inside the drain itself.
A qualified professional should always oversee the installation and maintenance of a trench drain. Additionally, make sure to keep drain grates clear of debris and other obstructions to allow water to enter freely.
Trench drains are often confused with French drains. Sure, they rhyme, but French drains are radically different in style. They use a perforated pipe buried below ground that diffuses water runoff into the groundwater table.

Considerations When Choosing a Trench Drain

There are several considerations that you should take into account when choosing a trench drain for a construction project.
The load-bearing weight of a trench drain is important. A drain not designed to handle the weight of cars results in damaged drains, leading to higher maintenance costs and other issues.
You also must consider traffic. A drain in a high-traffic pedestrian area will need a lot more tolerance to stress than a bathroom shower drain.
Site conditions such as weather are another important factor. If you are building in an area with highly variable temperatures, make sure to choose a material that can handle these temperature changes such as HDPE or steel.
Drain size and grate type depend on the needs of the project. Make sure to take the expected water flow into account.
Grate types can vary in material, design, and even aesthetics. Some grates are ADA compliant, while others are not.

Types of Trench Drains

Slot drains are technically a style of trench drain. Since they do not have a metal grate covering them, they are different enough to have their own category.
There are many different styles of trench drains including Polylok drains, which we will examine in-depth in a little bit.

Cast-In-Place Trench Drains

Cast-in-place drains are the traditional style of trench drain. Cast-in-place drains are very labor and material intensive to construct. They are formed into the ground using concrete, reinforcing bars, and wooden forms.

The steps for installing a cast-in-place trench drain system include:

⦁ Digging out the channel for the drain
⦁ Constructing the wooden form for the shape of the drain
⦁ Attaching metal frames to hold the grate
⦁ Placing the wooden form inside the channel
⦁ Attaching the outlet pipe that connects to outbound water flow
⦁ Filling around the form with concrete and allowing it to set
⦁ Removing the form and finishing the drain construction
You should also consider the placement of the water drainage outlet when building your trench drain. Outlets that go against the grade will be more costly and difficult to work with.

Former System Trench Drains

The former system is another style of trench drain. Former systems skip the process of building the wooden form by using cardboard and polystyrene.
Former systems save a lot of material costs and labor but can increase the generation of unsustainable waste. The materials are not usually reusable like wooden forms are.

Pre-Cast Concrete Trench Drains

Pre-cast concrete trench drain systems are generally used on larger-scale construction projects such as roadways. Pre-cast concrete trench drains are also available for the residential market.
The major downside to pre-cast systems is their transportation, as they are generally large and bulky. They do cut down exponentially on labor costs and on-site materials needed.

Modular Trench Drains

The final type of trench drain system is the linear or modular system. These have become very popular because they are easy to install, made of lightweight materials such as HDPE or pre-cast concrete, and are customized for any project.
Polylok trench drains are a modular system. They have many distinct advantages over traditional cast-in-place or former systems. Let’s examine Polylok trench drains further.

What Is a Polylok Trench Drain?

Polylok trench drains are heavy-duty interlocking modular trench drain systems. They are constructed out of high-density polymer material that holds up well to the rigors of daily use.
Polylok drains are specifically designed for their ease of installation and cost-effectiveness. The material is lightweight and easy to transport, as well.
These modular trench drains interlock together by design without the need for additional materials or construction. Polylok trench drains are easy and fast to install once a channel is dug and prepared.
They also feature molded cut grooves every twelve inches and can be mitered together to create angles and corners.
There are also modular parts available within the Polylok system, such as Polylok trench drain tees and right-angle connectors. They also offer end caps, catch basins, rainwater catchment, and adapters to use with PVC or corrugated piping.
Polylok trench drains come in two grate styles. The first is a heavy-duty reversible grate that is ADA compliant and can be set flush or with a 3/16″ bump. Polylok also makes a ductile flush grate, which is also ADA compliant.

Polylok Trench Drain Applications

Because of their flexibility and ease of installation, Polylok trench drains are useful in a variety of situations.
Polylok trench drains are easy to install on residential properties. Common uses include alleviating grading issues, pool-side applications, and even atrium and garden drainage.
Driveways with pooling water also benefit from the addition of a Polylok drain system. The heavy-duty drains are rated for vehicular traffic up to 20 miles per hour.
Business owners also benefit from Polylok trench drains. Garden and nursery owners, manufacturers, brewers, food processors, and other industries that require excellent drainage will find a lot to love about the Polylok systems.
Polylok trench drains can also be found in municipal applications. Downtown areas with low-speed vehicular traffic and heavy pedestrian traffic will benefit from the ease of installation and low cost of these trench drain systems.
Polylok trench drain grates are all ADA compliant which is a big plus for businesses and municipalities when constructing their hardscape and water management systems.
Wheelchairs and other disability assistance devices can get stuck or not be able to ride over raised drain grates or grates with large openings. Polylok trench drain grates are designed with this consideration in mind.

Installing Polylok Trench Drains

The Polylok trench drain system makes installation and maintenance easy. For heavy-duty vehicular applications, make sure to install Polylok drains in reinforced concrete.
For lighter uses such as residential applications, Polylok systems can be installed directly into the ground. We will cover both of these installation processes here. Remember that a qualified professional should always handle grading and drainage.

Ground Installation

When installing Polylok trench drains directly into the ground, make sure to clear the area of any debris. Then mark off the excavation area with grading stakes and lines.
After marking, excavate the site, leaving two extra inches of depth beyond the depth of the Polylok trench drain. Use a sand base at the bottom of the trench drain installation to stabilize it.
Once the sand base is in place, the Polylok trench drains are installed. Grading and proper elevation of the drain is done at this point. The trench drain is then connected to the outlet pipe.
After connecting the outlet pipe, fill in space around the trench drain with a filling material such as crushed stone or a specially designed filling material. Do not reuse soil from the site during any step of this process.
Once you have installed the drain, double-check it for grading and flushing, and tighten all grates and screws.

Concrete Installation

Before installing a Polylok trench drain into reinforced concrete, determine the location of the outlet pipe. Mark off grading the same as in the low-traffic installation process and excavate, leaving 6″ on all sides and on the bottom of the trench drain.
Polylok trench drains include options for outlets on the bottom or on the ends of the trench drain. If you are using the bottom outlet, cut an opening with a 3 1/2″ hole saw. Affix any end caps and attach the drain to the outlet.
Cover the grate openings with a removable sealer such as duct tape, and place the trench drain assembly into the trench.
Use temporary supports to hold the Polylok trench drain approximately at grade. Then drive vertical #4 rebar pieces through the designated holes on the sides of the trench drains. Wire ties secure the trench drains to the rebar.
#3 rebar loops tie to the horizontal rebars to further stabilize the assembly. Check the elevation and grading of the trench drain consistently through this process to ensure it remains correct.
Now it is time for the concrete pouring. Pour 5000 psi air-entrained concrete mix into the trench excavation, using the appropriate vibration practices. Hand finishing with trowels and removing the grate sealant completes the installation.

Final Word: Project Estimates

Polylok trench drains come in several colors. Black and grey are generally a little cheaper than tan and green trench drains. As with many construction materials, purchasing in bulk will generally save some money.
On average, a four-foot section of heavy-duty Polylok trench drain runs $50-$60 depending on color choice. Ductile grate Polylock trench drains run about $190 for a four-foot section.
You should also factor in endcaps, tees, right-angle connectors, and other additional modular pieces when estimating the cost of your project.
The best way to get an idea of the cost of a project is to contact us directly for an estimate of materials and labor. We can answer any and all questions about Polylok trench drain products and provide expert installation services.