What You Need to Know About Selecting the Right Garage Trench Drain

78 percent of homeowners in the US have a garage. If you are one of these homeowners, you might spend time figuring out how to organize your garage, make it useful, and maybe even set up a home workshop. But have you ever stopped to consider the drainage in your garage?

This often overlooked aspect of your home can have major consequences. Taking care of your drainage with a garage drain can prevent serious damage to your home and belongings. Let’s take a look at what you need to know when selecting a garage trench drain.



Typical two car garage setup


How Does Water Get Into a Garage?


A garage can be a busy place. Vehicles and people are entering and exiting during a variety of different situations. In addition, the garage door presents a large, open entryway to the outdoors. This opportunity for activity also presents an opportunity for water to enter.

One major way in which water gets in is through entering cars. Any water that was on your car when it entered will inevitably drip off and onto your garage floor. Just imagine what your garage floor looks like after you drive in during a storm.

Another major way in which water can enter is by simply being washed in. Whenever you leave the garage door open, water has a chance to enter. Even when closed, if enough water is outside, it can leak in through the gap between the garage door and the pavement.

These problems are even worse in locations where the garage door faces a negative slope. In these situations, water is being directly pooled toward the garage and it is inevitable that it will find its way in.

Water can also get in through random spills and mistakes. A leaking pipe, broken faucet, or even just a spilled bucket of water all present potential problems.

Heavy duty polymer, concrete garage trench drain system

Heavy duty, polymer, concrete garage trenchdrain

Why You Need a Garage Drain


While the water entering a garage may seem harmless, it can quickly become a problem. Pooling water can be both an immediate hazard and a long-term risk.

One immediate hazard is the potential for slips and falls. Pooled water can be slick, especially when mixed with the oils that are usually present in a garage. Plus, the concrete in a garage is not a surface you want to fall onto.

A more long-term hazard comes from pets. Mosquitoes love to breed in still bodies of water. So, an area without proper drainage is perfect for them.

There are even hazards that present long-term and immediate damage. Moisture can slowly allow mold to grow on whatever you are storing in the garage. In addition, heavy rain could allow in water that can be just as damaging to your stored possessions.

Depending on the slope of your garage, the water could even flow towards the foundation. This can cause disastrous damage to the structure of your house.

This is why proper drainage is critical in any garage. It controls the water that might collect and flow within your garage, preventing many potential issues.

A good drain can even prevent dirt from building up. You can even wash your garage floor or clean up spills without leaving behind large amounts of water and cleaning fluids. A garage drain is an easy way to prevent these problems.

Polymer garage trench drain system

5 inch wide, polymer garage drain

Types of Garage Drains


In general, there are two types of garage drains to consider: trench drains and square or round drains. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Square or round drains are pretty simple. These types of drains are generally a single drain located at a fixed point in the room. Like the drain in a bathtub, they simply remove all of the water that they can.

The main advantage of using square or round drains is that they are relatively cheap and easy to install. They also take less time to install.

However, square and round drains also have their drawbacks. Their simplicity and small size limit what they can do. After all, a small drain can only really take care of small amounts of water.

Trench drains are more robust and, in some situations, may be the better option. These drains feature linear channels with a grate over the top. They are very effective in directing large amounts of water flow out of your garage.

Trench drains can also be used to form a trench drain system. This allows you to directly protect specific areas in order to have maximum control of your garage’s water problems.

For many homeowners and business owners with garages, a garage trench drain can be a better way to ensure adequate drainage on their property.

Zurn galvanize, steel pre-sloped drainage system

Galvanized steel slotted garage trench drain

Types of Trench Drains


You can choose from a few types of trench drain systems, characterized by how they are formed and installed. The most common types are pre-formed and cast-in-place drains. Each type of drain offers its own unique benefits and is better suited for certain applications.

Pre-formed drains are manufactured offsite at a factory. They can be made from several different materials. These include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polymer concrete, fiberglass, fiber reinforced concrete, and stainless steel.

The variety of materials available makes it easy to choose a material that best meets the application. In addition, these types of drains can be made to order, which can be particularly helpful if you need a certain size or shape.

When one of these drains is set to be installed, a trench is dug where it will go. Then, the pre-formed drain is installed into the channel.

On the other hand, installers create cast-in-place trench drains on site. The installer creates a U-channel and installs forms. Then, concrete is poured into the form.

Sometimes the frames are removed. Other times they are left in place.

Unfortunately, pre-formed drains often become costly and more difficult to transport due to their size. It is often necessary to include joints within the drains in order to reduce them to a transportable size.

On the other hand, cast-in-place drains are often more affordable to install and transport. However, they require clear weather in order to install and cure the concrete used for the channels.

Precast concrete trenchdrain system for garage

Precast concrete drainage system

Choosing the Correct Size


Trench drains are available in a variety of widths ranging from three inches to 12 inches. Most residential and driveway drains use five or six-inch wide drains. Eight and 12 inch-wide drains can be useful if you need your drain to handle a higher amount of water.

In general, most residential garage trench drains should be between five and 12 inches wide. Commercial and heavy-duty garages may necessitate larger drains, such as eight or more inches wide.

Ultimately, the exact specifications used on a project will vary based on the project’s needs. If the garage has serious water problems or needs to drain a large amount of water, a wider drain may be necessary.


Trench Drain Materials


Cast-in-place trench drains are only available in concrete. However, you can choose preformed drains in a variety of other materials. It’s important to consider your application before choosing a material for the channel of your trench drain.

Polymer concrete and fiber reinforced concrete drains are some of the strongest types of trench drains you can choose. Not only are they durable enough to withstand freeze-thaw cycles, but they won’t break down due to most elements.

This strength comes from the use of thermoplastic polymers and a resin binding agent, as opposed to the traditional lime-type cement binder. The result is a higher tensile and compressive strength than standard concrete.

Concrete drains can also be installed on many other materials, including concrete, brick pavers, and asphalt. This makes concrete trench drains a good option for anyone considering installing a garage trench drain.

Many others opt for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drains. This material is one of the most used types of plastics in the world. Just like concrete, this material can stand up to extreme temperatures and doesn’t corrode. In fact, HDPE drains have a service life of 10 to 20 years.

HDPE also offers the benefit of a smooth interior, which allows efficient transport of water and prevents bacterial buildup. The flexibility of the materials allows them to bend to the required shape, making the installation process less intensive and much easier.

HDPE drains are also cost-effective since they have lower manufacturing costs. Their lightweight nature also means transportation costs are often reduced.


Other Factors to Consider


While the size and materials are basic considerations that every trench drain installation will need to address, there are also other factors to consider.

Depending on the amount of excess water your channel may need to handle, you might want to consider a sloped channel layout. Most trench drains have the same, regular depth for their entire length. This maintains consistent drainage and is simple to install.

Regular depth drains are suitable for many applications, particularly for many garage drains. If your garage has trouble with excess water, especially if it has a negative slope, you may want to consider a drain with built-in falls.

Built-in falls allow larger amounts of water to flow easily. The natural slope of these drains uses the power of gravity to funnel more water more quickly. This option does add more cost and work to the project, but may be helpful for larger projects.

Trench drains work well on their own for keeping your garage clean and dry. However, you may want to consider extending your trench drain system in order to funnel water from other parts of your property.

A well-planned system could gather water from your garage, walkways, and driveway and funnel it out at one out-flow spot. Installing multiple drain points at once could help you develop a more efficient drainage plan, rather than piece-mealing it together over time.


Choosing a Trench Grate


Another critical part of a garage trench drain is the trench grate. The grate is what allows movement over the drain and prevents you from having a half-foot wide gap in your garage floor. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the grate to choose one that meets your needs.

Like drain channels, drain grates can be made of a number of materials. Plastic and HDPE grates allow for lightweight grates that are easy to remove and clean. They also tend to be relatively cost-effective.

Cast iron, stainless steel, and other metals are also options. Many plants and breweries opt for non-corrosive materials, while aluminum and bronze grates are often chosen for more aesthetic uses. You can also use these materials in your garage drain, depending on your needs.

There are also special add-ons that can be helpful. ADA-compliant grates can allow better ease of movement due to their smaller slots. This can be a very useful option if you or a loved one have mobility needs.

Slip-proof grates may also be helpful in a garage to prevent dangerous slips while in the area. In addition, some people choose bolted drain grates, which are bolted to the frame, to provide extra stability.



Select the Best Garage Trench Drain


A garage trench drain is an ideal way to ensure efficient drainage of water from your garage and surrounding areas. But, you need to carefully consider the application when selecting a trench drain. Doing so will allow you to get the most bang for your buck out of your new drain.

Request a quote from Swiftdrain to start taking care of your garage drainage problems.


Learn more about our 5” wide garage trench drain system.