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How to Choose the Right Grating for Your Application

We know that finding the best Grating for your project can be a lot. In this guide, we share a few tips to make the process a little easier.

Which Grating Type Makes the Most Sense?

McNICHOLS carries a vast inventory of Gratings that is diverse in construction, material, and purpose. With the variety of Grating available, we know determining the right fit for your design and functional needs can be overwhelming. That is where we come in. At McNICHOLS, it is our goal to make your ordering as smooth and simple as possible, so we are eager to share a few tips to make this process seamless for you.

New and creative uses constantly employ Bar Grating, Plank Grating, and Fiberglass Grating. Although, walkway applications most frequently utilize them. But how do you determine which of these categories is best suited for your pathway? Below we will discuss the benefits, usage, and specifications of each category. We hope that this guide will ease your decision-making process and lead you to the perfect Grating for your application.

Bar Grating

Many consider Bar Grating an ideal option when they require high levels of strength and durability. Its high-performance yet low-maintenance characteristics function well in rugged and severe environments. When you determine the right Bar Grating item for your project, envisioning exactly how you will use the product is the first helpful step. For example, will your item be carrying heavy vehicular loads, or will it be a walking surface for pedestrian traffic?

In some cases, it may be a uniform load, where the full weight of a machine or object is resting on the entire span of the panel. Sometimes, a concentrated load places stress on the panels, causing a change in the pounds per foot weight capacity compared to a uniform load, as it covers a smaller area in relation to the grating. We always recommend you consult the correct load table before making your decision.

Bar Grating Construction Type

A render of a type of Bar Grating known as Swage-Locked.

Once you have the intended application in mind, the next thing to decide is Bar Grating Construction Type – either Welded, Heavy-Duty Welded, Swage-Locked, or Press-Locked. Our Welded Bar Grating is durable and versatile and is therefore one of the most popular Bar Grating choices. Heavy-Duty Welded construction offers the highest durability and security, making it a popular choice in areas with vehicular traffic for increased strength and carrying capacity.

McNICHOLS manufactures the majority of its Swage-Locked Bar Grating from Aluminum, giving it a high strength-to-weight ratio. The flush surface and closely spaced bearing bars optimize Press-Locked Bar Grating. This low percentage of open area qualifies some Press-Locked items to be ADA-compliant.

Strength, weight, environment, and aesthetics are all factors that will help you determine the primary material, whether it be Aluminum, Carbon Steel, Galvanized Steel, or Stainless Steel. Don't forget to decide whether you would like a Smooth, Serrated, or Grooved surface depending on your traction needs.

It is important to note that these are just some of the considerations when specifying Bar Grating. Details such as series type, product spacing, bar size, and shape, percent open area, and span are key to choosing the right product for your application.

Plank Grating

Plank Grating is a popular choice for applications where traction and slip resistance are the highest priority. When used conventionally, these products provide secure footing on rooftop walkways, catwalks, stairs, and more.  Similar to Bar Grating, keeping your application at the forefront will guide you when choosing the specifications of your item.

For example, consider the environment the item will be installed in. Will your product be in an environment with low temperatures where large portions of ice and snow need to pass through? Knowing such functional needs will help direct you to the Plank Grating item that will perform best in your final application.

plank Grating Construction Type

A product rendering of a type of Plank Grating known as GRIP STRUT®.

Construction Types for Plank Grating include Plank and Walkway (both available in Heavy-Duty options), Interlocking, and Extruded Interlocking. Our standard Plank Grating is a one-piece construction flooring product that has aggressive serrations, raised buttons, or other slip-resistant surface features. It is frequently found in applications that will be exposed to inclement and harsh weather, as its characteristic openings allow for the passage of snow, ice, mud, oils, and more.

Walkway also has similar slip-resistant surfaces. However, unlike standard Plank, Walkway is designed for elevated pathways. It features unique upturned side channels to ensure safety within these raised walking areas.

If you are looking for a product to cover a large span and not a single pathway, Interlocking, and Extruded Interlocking Plank Gratings are popular choices for their ability to easily and seamlessly link together with adjoining planks. Other Construction Types include Ladder Rung Plank and Stair Tread Plank.

The application will also influence factors such as gauge/thickness, channel depth/height, series type, primary material, percent open area, and span.

Fiberglass Grating

Fiberglass Grating is optimal for harsh environments because of its corrosion-resistant nature and variety of fire-retardant resin options. Because of this, many applications of these products are found outdoors or in other severe settings.

To determine Fiberglass resin and type, you must first assess the amount of durability, fire-retardancy, and corrosion resistance the application requires. For example, industries frequently use Our SVF Vinyl Ester in environments where they require the highest level of durability and corrosion resistance.

On the other hand, we also offer various compositions of non-fire-retardant resins for less demanding conditions. Each resin and type possesses its own strengths, such as SFF Polyester which is food grade (nontoxic) and often used in kitchen applications. A chart of information on our resin offerings is available on our Fiberglass Grating Resource page.

fiberglass Grating Construction Type

A product rendering of Molded Fiberglass Grating.

You can specify these resins and types for either Molded or Pultruded construction types, depending on your project requirements. Depending on the desired construction type, you can customize the product surface with features that range from a Concave Molded exterior to Fine Grit, Medium Grit, and Coarse Grit offerings that increase traction in slippery environments. Application and environmental factors will also influence details such as color, span, percent open area, and size.


Regardless of the desired category, it is important to confirm that your chosen Grating will be able to handle the loads your application will require. The load tables available on our product resource pages make it easy to calculate and confirm load capacity for all our Gratings. Also on our Product Resource pages, you will find plenty of charts, lists, and details that can provide more comprehensive information about our Grating offerings.

We hope this guide has been helpful in your process to find the Grating item best suited for your project. If you still have questions or would like more personalized help in determining product needs, we are ready and Inspired to Serve® you at 855.318.8791, [email protected], or via Live Chat on