Different Types of Drainage Systems


If you're working on a project that needs a drainage system, you already know the importance of a good design to remove water safely and efficiently. Whether you are handling stormwater or wastewater, effective removal of water prevents damage to important assets, creates a safe, hazard-free environment for occupants, and eliminates water stagnation and associated health and safety issues.

A well-designed linear drainage system addresses all these issues while still considering installation time, cost and ongoing performance as well as flow velocity, resilience, installation time and lifetime maintenance cost.

With so many variables at play, it's important to have a clear understanding of the different types of drainage systems available today.

Point Drains

A point drain collects water from a single point, or gully (similar to the drain in the middle of a shower floor). You'll find point drains in locations that need drainage from a specific point due to structural or topographical needs. The point drain connects to drainage pipes below the surface.

While point drains are well-suited to some projects, they often require a great deal of excavation and deep trench support. Projects requiring multiple point drains are less aesthetically pleasing and must be carefully designed to ensure they remove all the water. Point drains can also be difficult to maneuver over, particularly in high traffic areas.

In addition, indoor point drains require four slopes in flooring to properly drain, adding extra installation costs. In larger facilities, added sloped floors becomes cumbersome for heavy equipment and carts as they try to move around.

Trench Drains

Unlike point drains, trench drains (also called channel drains) collect water from multiple locations simultaneously all along their length. This gives the system a higher capacity and reduces the chances of pooling or streaming water at the site. Trench drains have a cover or grate that is flush with the adjoining surface.

Trench drains require shallower excavation and do not require extensive trench support. They are easier to configure and can blend into their surroundings much more easily. Because of these advantages, many projects incorporate trench drains over point drains.

Not all trench drains are created equal, however. Let's take a closer look at three specific types of trench drains.

Cast-In-Place Trench Drains

Cast-in-place concrete is a traditional method proven for providing an extremely strong drainage solution. To create the trench, manual laborers use wood forms and reinforcing bar to cast the trench. 

Cast-in-place drains require grates to cover the trenches. These grates can be made from a wide variety of materials, from plastic to steel.

Overall, the disadvantages of this system far outweigh the benefits. First, cast-in-place trench drains require a great deal of labor and time to install. They also present several limitations over the lifetime of the drain, including non-locking grates as well as flat and rough internal surfaces. These rough surfaces can disintegrate over time. They also decrease hydraulic efficiencies and increase debris catchment leading to blocks.

In addition, the grates covering the trenches have several drawbacks.  They are tripping hazards and can cause problems for users in wheelchairs or with wheeled carts. In high-traffic areas, they must be carefully designed to withstand heavy loads. They trap bacteria and are time-consuming to clean. Grated trench drains are expensive to maintain and require replacement over the life of the drain. Broken or missing grates are dangerous and a liability risk.

HDPE Trench Drains

High density polyethylene or modular HDPE is the one of the latest innovations in drainage systems. These trench drains consist of pre-engineered modular channel sections. The sections are lightweight and easy to install.

Smooth and durable with greater flow capacity, HDPE trench drains not only reduce the time and cost of installation but also offer high chemical resistance in industrial applications. However, these systems still require grates to cover the open HDPE channel.

Slot Drain Systems

The 7000 and 9000 series Slot Drain from Slot Drain Systems offer many advantages over cast-in-place and HDPE trench drains. They are easy to install, incredibly strong, and exceptionally durable. The also give you excellent hydraulics, chemical resistance and structural integrity.

Most importantly, they do not have grates. This improves safety, accessibility, makes them easy to clean and much more sanitary. The lack of grates reduces initial expense as well as ongoing maintenance costs over the life of the drain.

Slot Drain’s modular trench drain systems are well suited for even the toughest applications, including manufacturing and industrial facilities, parking areas, aquatic facilities, residential landscapes, roadside drainage, and food processing and pharmaceutical plants.


Slot Drain comes with rebar clips and combination anchor tabs/leveling devices to reduce labor during installation.  This also increases the flexibility of the system to suit unique project requirements.

If your project requires point or trench drainage systems, contact us to learn more about Slot Drains. Our experts can help design a system that meets all your needs, and you can enjoy all of the advantages that Slot Drains have to offer with none of the drawbacks of other drainage systems.

Interested to learn how Trench Drains are typicall installed?  Watch the below video:

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