Concrete Trench Drain Systems

Concrete Trench Drain System Considerations


Concrete trench drain systems are essential components in a variety of applications where effective drainage is crucial. Whether it's a residential, commercial, or industrial project, these systems provide efficient water management, preventing the accumulation of standing water and minimizing the risk of property damage and safety hazards. In this article, we will delve into the types of concrete trench drain systems, their applications, reasons for their preference over other alternatives, available materials, and the various types of concrete trench drains on the market.



Pre cast concrete trench drain system


Types of Concrete Trench Drain Systems


Concrete trench drain systems come in various configurations to accommodate different project requirements. Here are some common types:

Pre-cast Concrete Trench Drains

Pre-cast concrete trench drains are manufactured off-site and delivered as pre-formed units. These drains are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and load-bearing capacities. They often feature built-in slope capabilities for efficient water flow and can be quickly installed by professionals. Pre-cast concrete trench drains are ideal for projects requiring rapid installation and where precise design specifications are crucial.



Cast in place trench drain system with frame and grate


Cast-in-Place Concrete Trench Drains:

Cast-in-place concrete trench drains are constructed on-site, allowing for greater customization and flexibility. They are formed by pouring concrete into a pre-dug trench and embedding a channel or grate system. Forming a cast in place concrete trench drain uses forms and a pour in place technique suitable for projects that require unique dimensions, complex configurations, or seamless integration with existing structures. This may also a cost saving measure to modular trench drain systems.



Wood forms are used to pour the cast in place concrete trench drain system



Modular Concrete Trench Drains

Modular concrete trench drains consist of individual pre-cast units that interlock to form a continuous drain. These units typically include channel sections, grates, and end caps, which can be easily assembled on-site. Modular concrete trench drains offer versatility in design and allow for easy maintenance and future modifications. They are widely used in parking lots, pedestrian areas, and other applications where flexibility and scalability are essential. View technical details here.



Fiber reinforced concrete trench drain

A fiber reinforced concrete trench drain and inline catch basin


Applications of Concrete Trench Drain Systems


Concrete trench drain systems find applications in a wide range of settings, including:


Residential Areas

Concrete trench drains are commonly used in residential areas to manage stormwater runoff from driveways, patios, and other outdoor spaces. They effectively prevent water from pooling, which can cause damage to structures, promote erosion, or create safety hazards.


Commercial and Industrial Facilities

In commercial and industrial settings, concrete trench drains play a vital role in managing large volumes of water. They are often installed in parking lots, loading docks, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses, providing efficient drainage and preventing flooding during heavy rain or other water-intensive processes.

Municipal Infrastructure

Concrete trench drains are extensively used in municipal infrastructure projects, such as roadways, municipal warehouses, sidewalks, airports, and sports fields. They ensure effective water removal, reducing the risk of damage to infrastructure and enhancing public safety.



Modular concrete trench drain system being installed in a warehouse

Advantages of Concrete Trench Drain Systems


Concrete trench drains offer several advantages over alternative drainage systems.


Concrete is a robust and long-lasting material, capable of withstanding heavy loads and harsh environmental conditions. Concrete trench drains are highly resistant to corrosion, chemicals, and abrasion, ensuring their longevity even in demanding applications.



Cast in place trench drain forms, are used with heavy duty cast iron grates


Concrete trench drains can be customized to meet specific project requirements. Whether it's the size, shape, slope, or load-bearing capacity, concrete drains can be tailored to suit the application, ensuring optimal performance.



Pour in place trench drain system with concrete

Aesthetic Appeal

Concrete trench drains can be designed to complement the surrounding architecture and landscape. They are available in various finishes, colors, and patterns, allowing for seamless integration with the overall design aesthetic.


12 inch wide cast iron trench drain grates

Materials Used in Concrete Trench Drains

Concrete trench drains are typically made using a combination of cement, aggregates, and additives. The choice of materials depends on the specific project requirements, load-bearing capacity, and exposure to chemicals or extreme temperatures. Reinforcing materials such as steel or fiberglass may also be incorporated to enhance the drain's strength and durability.

Two common types of modular concrete trench drain systems are fiber reinforced concrete (FRC) and polymer concrete (PC) systems. This article aims to provide engineers with an in-depth understanding of the differences, advantages, and applications of these two materials. Modular pre cast trench drain systems are preferred for their durability, functionality, ease of installation and off the shelf capabilities. Most modular trench drain systems use pre sloped units that are pre fabricated and configured based on run length. Each section is 3.33’ and butt together to increase run length. Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 would yield 20’ of continuous pre sloped trench drain. This can be configured upwards of 200 linear feet with neutrals and catch basins.

  1. Fiber Reinforced Concrete (FRC) Trench Drain Systems: Fiber reinforced concrete trench drain systems are constructed using a combination of cement, aggregates, and discrete fibers. The addition of fibers, such as steel, glass, or synthetic fibers, improves the overall performance and durability of the concrete. FRC trench drain systems offer several advantages:

1.1 Enhanced Strength and Durability: The incorporation of fibers in concrete significantly enhances its tensile and flexural strength, reducing the likelihood of cracks and fractures. The fibers act as reinforcement throughout the matrix, improving the overall durability of the trench drain system.

1.2 Resistance to Chemicals and Corrosion: FRC trench drain systems are highly resistant to chemical attack and corrosion, making them suitable for applications in industries where exposure to harsh chemicals is common, such as chemical plants, food processing facilities, and wastewater treatment plants.

1.3 Increased Impact and Abrasion Resistance: The inclusion of fibers enhances the impact resistance of FRC trench drain systems, enabling them to withstand heavy loads and vehicular traffic. Additionally, these systems exhibit excellent resistance to abrasion, ensuring their longevity even in high-traffic areas.

1.4 Flexibility in Design: FRC trench drain systems can be easily customized to meet specific project requirements. Engineers can vary the fiber content, size, and orientation to achieve the desired strength, flow capacity, and load-bearing capabilities.



Precast in line, fiber reinforced concrete trench drain system with pipe connection

  1. Polymer Concrete (PC) Trench Drain Systems: Polymer concrete trench drain systems are composed of a thermosetting resin combined with aggregate materials. The resin provides binding properties, while the aggregates contribute to the system's structural integrity. PC trench drain systems offer unique advantages:

2.1 Chemical Resistance: Polymer concrete exhibits exceptional resistance to a wide range of chemicals, including acids, alkalis, solvents, and oils. This makes PC trench drain systems ideal for applications in industrial environments, laboratories, and areas where chemical spills may occur.

2.2 Lightweight and Easy Installation: Compared to traditional concrete, polymer concrete is significantly lighter in weight, making it easier to transport and install. This advantage reduces labor costs and expedites the installation process, particularly in projects with time constraints.

2.3 Excellent Hygiene and Cleanability: Polymer concrete has a non-porous surface, which prevents the absorption of liquids, stains, and odors. As a result, PC trench drain systems offer excellent hygiene and cleanability, making them suitable for applications in food processing facilities, commercial kitchens, and sanitary areas.

2.4 Electrical Insulation Properties: Polymer concrete is an excellent electrical insulator, offering added safety in environments where electrical conductivity needs to be minimized. This property makes PC trench drain systems suitable for installation in areas where electrical equipment or high-voltage systems are present.

  1. Application Considerations: When selecting between FRC and PC trench drain systems, engineers must consider the specific project requirements and environmental factors:

3.1 Load-Bearing Requirements: For applications where heavy vehicular traffic or significant loads are anticipated, FRC trench drain systems with their enhanced strength and impact resistance are typically recommended.

3.2 Chemical Exposure: In environments where exposure to corrosive substances or chemicals is prevalent, such as industrial facilities or wastewater treatment plants, both FRC and PC trench drain systems can be suitable.


Inline polymer concrete trench drain installation




Concrete trench drain systems provide effective and reliable water management solutions in various residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Their durability, customizability, and aesthetic appeal make them a preferred choice over alternative drainage systems. With different types available, including pre-cast, cast-in-place, and modular concrete trench drains, there is a solution for every project's unique needs. By considering the specific requirements and consulting with drainage experts, professionals can select and install the most appropriate concrete trench drain system for their applications, ensuring efficient water removal and mitigating potential damage. Typical sizes are 4.8”, 8” and 12” wide. Contact us to learn more.