Metal Grating Basics, Types and Common Applications

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Metal Grating Basics, Types and Common Applications

metal grating basics types applications

One of the most common metal and steel surfaces out there in society today, but one many people don’t even think about as they’re interacting with it, is known as metal grating. Referring to common grate formats you’ll often see, such as sewer grates for street drains, metal grating is a widely-used product that comes in several different formats depending on the need.

At Wasatch Steel, we’re happy to provide a wide range of steel products and steel services, helping our clients complete any metal project they’re in the market for. What is metal grating, what are its common uses, and what are the numerous different formats used for metal grating today? Here’s a primer.

Metal Grating Basics

As we noted above, metal grating refers to a commonly-used surface format for metal products most people will see every day. These are not your typical steel grating or similar slats, but instead refer to common outward-facing products you’ll see hanging on the street or in other locations around towns and cities today.

Metal grating is generally used to allow for themes like drainage, ventilation, safety and related products and features, with some installations even using metal grating to cover up potentially dangerous areas like manholes. There are several different metals that may be used for this process depending on the precise needs, including steel, aluminum alloy, galvanized steel, zinc-coated steel and others.

The specific format of the grating is also important depending on what is being used for. Some common forms are square or rectangular holes with flat metal bars across them, while other options may feature cylindrical bars with their ends crimped to provide added strength and protection. There’s even a “honeycomb” option that features raised vertical bars in a hexagonal grid pattern for added security, which can be seen in some street drain grate covers.

What are various types of metal grating, and what are they commonly used for? Here’s a rundown.

Expanded Metal Grating

This process is one that involves creating slits in a metal sheet, then expanding the sheet to create a diamond-like pattern. You can increase the diamond size as needed depending on how large you need the openings to be.

In most cases, this is a very lightweight metal grating option, which also makes it cheaper than many other metal grating types. It’s typically used for safety-oriented products like steel fence posts and handrail posts, but it can also be used for things like metal grating flooring and other general protection projects.

This process is particularly beneficial because it creates absolutely no waste, meaning you can save money on material costs by only buying the exact amount needed for your project. There are also no holes punched in the material, helping it retain more of its original strength.

Safety Grating

Another extremely common use of metal grating is safety grating, which is most commonly found on walking surfaces as a way to ensure that people will not accidentally step through the mesh and injure themselves. In some cases, grating is also used as a railing material for balconies and other elevated areas.

In terms of safety grating, you’ll see two primary options available: Open steel mesh or closed cell polyethylene fiberglass units. Open steel mesh provides excellent visibility and breathability, while closed cell polyethylene fiberglass is a more secure choice that still offers great air flow and supports up to 200 pounds.

One of the primary themes for these kinds of grates: Grip and traction, which is especially important for walkways, staircases and other stepping surfaces. This is provided by varying the pattern on the polyethylene or steel mesh itself, making it easier for people to stay on their feet on their way up an incline.

Bar Grating

Often used in areas like fire escapes, street drains, bridges and similar areas, bar grating refers to a set of parallel bars with various patterns and dimensions. There are a number of different specifications for these bars, including spacing between parallel bars, the overall size and shape of the grating, whether it is plain or textured in some way for grip and how much weight it can support. Many types also come with an option that includes holes along one or more edges in order to allow the structure to be attached to a concrete wall.

The two most common materials used for bar grating are steel and aluminum, both of which have high strength-to-weight ratios and can handle a great deal of weight. They typically last for up to 50 years before needing to be replaced, but the only way you’ll know which one is right for your project is by comparing physical samples from different suppliers.

Wire Mesh

Finally, another type of metal grating is known as wire mesh, or sometimes wire fabric or cloth. This is a format that involves parallel rows and intersecting wire columns, which can vary in shape and size depending on the manufacturer and the application.

Wire mesh is typically used for industrial applications, but also has some interesting applications in structures like fences and trellises. Weaving patterns and shapes into the wire fabric allows you to create something that looks more decorative than just a plain metal surface, which makes it popular with homeowners and architects.

The one downside to wire mesh is that it can be more fragile than other grating types, and also more expensive. This type of metal grating will typically need to be replaced every 10 years or so based on the usage. As with safety grating, only by physically comparing samples from each supplier can you make a truly informed decision.

For more on the various forms of metal and steel grating out there, or to learn about any of our steel products or services, speak to the pros at Wasatch Steel today.