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How to Choose the Right Grating for your Application

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

 |  5 min read

McNICHOLS carries a vast inventory of Grating that is diverse in construction, material, and purpose. With so many options available, we know that determining the right fit for your design and functional needs can sometimes 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.

While they are constantly being used in new and creative ways, Bar Grating, Plank Grating, and Fiberglass Grating are most frequently seen in walkway applications. But how do you determine which of these categories is best suited for your pathway? Below we will go into detail about 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

For many, Bar Grating is an ideal option when high levels of strength and durability are required. Its high-performance yet low-maintenance characteristics function well in rugged and severe environments. When determining the right Bar Grating item for your project, it is first helpful to envision exactly how the product will be used. 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. Other times, the load being placed on the panels is a concentrated load, which simply means it covers a smaller area in relation to the Grating and therefore changes the pounds per foot weight capacity when compared to uniform load. We always recommend you consult the correct load table before making your decision.

Considering application will help guide you through the rest of the selection process.

swage-locked bar grating

Once you have 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. For even more strength and carrying capacity, Heavy-Duty Welded is the most durable and secure construction, and is often used in areas with vehicular traffic. The majority of McNICHOLS® Swage-Locked Bar Grating is made from Aluminum, and thus has a high strength-to-weight ratio. Press-Locked Bar Grating is optimized with a flush surface and bearing bars that are close together. 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 primary material, whether it be lightweight Aluminum, durable Carbon Steel, or corrosion-resistant Galvanized Steel and 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.

Fiberglass Grating

Fiberglass Grating is optimal for harsh environments due to 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.

Let's cover the importance of Resin & Type.

To determine Fiberglass resin and type, you must first assess the amount of durability, fire-retardancy, and corrosion-resistance the application requires. For example, Our SVF Vinyl Ester is frequently used in environments where the highest level of durability and corrosion-resistance is necessary. On the other hand, we also offer various compositions of non-fire-retardant resins for less demanding conditions. Each resin and type possesses their own strengths, such as SFF Polyester which is food grade (nontoxic) and often used in kitchen applications. A chart of information on all of our resin offerings is available on our Fiberglass Grating Resource page.

molded fiberglass grating

These resins and types can be specified for either Molded or Pultruded construction types -- another specification to be established based on your project requirements. Depending on desired construction type, product surface can be customized with features ranging from a concave Molded exterior to fine, medium, and course grit offerings that increase traction in slippery environments. Details such as color, span, percent open area, and size will also be influenced by application and environmental factors.

Plank Grating

With a wide variety of surface configurations, 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. Much like with Bar Grating, keeping the application for your Plank Grating 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.

Grip Strut plank grating

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 due to their ability to easily and seamlessly link together with adjoining planks. Other Construction Types include Ladder Rung Plank and Stair Tread Plank.

Remaining details such as gauge/thickness, channel depth/height, series type, primary material, percent open area, and span are factors that will also be influenced by application.


Regardless of 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 of our Gratings. Also on our 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, please contact one of our associates. We are eager to help and, as always, Inspired to Serve®!

Hole Stories is designed to inform, instruct, and inspire readers. Stories composed are for educational purposes only, and proper technical resources should be consulted prior to installation of any Hole Product. McNICHOLS shall have no liability for the informative nature of content shared.

How to Choose the Right Grating for your Application
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