Commonly Asked Questions

IRONSMITH products and Green Building

All of IRONSMITH cast products are made from 100% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. Most steel construction shapes are from 75% recycled product and are 100% recyclable. Click here for our LEED statement]

We also recommend this information on the benefits of urban trees from Colorado Trees. www.coloradotrees.org

How does the American's with Disabilities Act impact the use of IRONSMITH products?

The American's with Disabilities Act does not specifically address tree grates. The relevant section 302.3 addresses gratings within the "accessible pathway". Such gratings should have openings not greater than 1/2" wide with slots perpendicular to the general direction of travel and have a coefficient of friction at least 0.6 on flat surfaces and 0.8 on ramps.

The U.S. Access Board has issued a new Accessible Rights-of Way Design guide we recommend it to anyone designing streets.

The Design guide has this to say regarding tree grates: "Metal gratings are of particular concern to pedestrians who use walking aids. When wet, the grids can be extremely slippery, and the elongated openings can become a sliding track for the tip of a crutch or cane. Slip-resistant finishes or nonmetallic materials are available at additional cost for installations where the location or extent of exposed gratings may pose a problem for pedestrians, such as on pedestrian bridges and overpasses. Where possible, gratings and similar sidewalk fittings should be located off the travel path. Note, however, that "tree gratings--unless part of the pedestrian circulation route— need not meet surfacing provisions." (quoted text U.S. Access Board / bold highlighting ours)

Should you find it necessary to have your tree grate intrude into the accessible pathway we recommend the Market Street model tree grate.

Unfinished grates tested over .9 coefficient of friction with neolite shoe sole material (ASTM test 1028-89). Powder coat grates should be with a texture powder coat or low gloss. Paints have been used for years without problems and do not add appreciably to the sense of slipperiness but we can add SHARKGRIP to our paint if you prefer.

Is rust going to damage my grates? Is rust normal?

Cast iron rusts very easily and should be expected. Rust will not harm or compromise the integrity of your grates.

Click here to see what to expect

Can I do anything about rusty iron grates?

Rust is normal on cast iron and will not harm the metal or affect its strength. Over time it will patina to a dark brown. (see Information on aging of unfinished metal )

However some customers have desired a quick solution to bright orange rusty grates on their new project. So we have done some experiments to come up with a solution.

Click Here for more information

When should I specify tamper-proof grates?

Most cast iron tree grates are so heavy that they act as their own deterrent to unauthorized removable. In addition scrap iron has relatively low value at a recycler.

Aluminum grates are typically one third the weight of an equal size iron grate. Aluminum also has considerable value at the recycling center, so we suggest tamper resistant screws on aluminum grates that may be subject to theft.

Trench grates are light and easy to move and some people like to fix them down. We suggest balancing deterring unauthorized removal with the need of normal maintenance access. Tamper resistant screws can rust in place and require a special removal tool that is easily misplaced. Requests from customers to replace lost grates are almost nonexistent.

Why should I specify IRONSMITH’s frames for my grates? Aren’t all frames the same/compatible?
  • IRONSMITH's frames are jig welded to ensure proper fit and to provide a frame that is flat and square for good grate installation.
  • Standard concrete anchors are Nelson studs not flat stock or rebar. These provide better anchorage, are stronger, much less likely to suffer damage in transit and handling and due to their shape are much safer for persons handling the frames.
  • We also offer many installation options which can be ordered and even combined on the same frame. See the installation detail section for the relevant product.
When should I specify galvanized frames?
  • Any of our frames can be hot dip galvanized after fabrication.
  • The zinc coating can be expected to protect the steel from rusting for twenty years or more.
  • Under most conditions unfinished steel frames matched with unfinished grates will last decades without appreciable change in dimension from rust.
  • In areas of use with high water such as with trench grates galvanizing may be preferred.
  • Galvanized frames are also a good choice when the grates are painted and make a nice color transition with concrete.
  • Galvanized frames should always be used when specifying unfinished aluminum grates. This allows the use of more ridged and economical steel frames, but the zinc coat will match the look of the aluminum and reduce corrosion due to different metals.
What is IRONSMITH’s guarantee for its products?

IRONSMITH has a five year warranty on materials and workmanship on all our products. (Excluding finishes). Please click here for a complete copy of our warranty.

We are proud of our products and will work hard to ensure that you are too.

What are the advantages of aluminum or bronze grates over cast iron?
  • The choice of aluminum, bronze, or iron is more of an esthetic question than a functional one. Each have their own unique look all structurally up to the task of the products use.
  • Weight may also be a consideration. Since aluminum is about one third the weight of cast iron or bronze. It is best used where weight might be a problem such as on removable bollards.
  • For a more complete discussion of the merits of the different materials call our design department.
My grates rock. What's wrong?

Slight variations in grates, frames, and installation can cause the grates not to fit level in the frames.

IRONSMITH tree grates and trench grates are made with small 1/4" high pads on the underside. These pads allow the grates to be leveled by grinding them slightly until the grate sits without rocking. An electric hand grinder or even a large metal file will make short work of this job.

I have more than one installation condition for frames can this be accommodated?

Since all our frames are made to order, we can easily put different installation options on the same tree or trench grate frame.

Our Design Department will be happy to help you develop an installation that will solve your site specific problems. E-mail them your questions or call.

Are IRONSMITH tree grates expandable as trees grow?


IRONSMITH tree grates typically are designed with various tree calibers in mind. Tree grates should be ordered with tree openings that are appropriate for the intended tree. Each tree grate will have the available standard tree opening sizes listed. Should it be necessary to enlarge the tree opening on site, grates can be cut out to the standard openings.

Expanding openings is relatively easy. Click here for PDF on how to expand a tree opening

What is the typical lead time to get my product delivered?

All IRONSMITH product is made to order. We do not inventory product. Lead times vary by product, time of the year, etc. We will make every effort to work with your time limits but it is very important to contact us to discuss lead times as early in your project as possible.

Frames can often be shipped earlier than grates if needed to make your flat work schedule. There is usually additional freight charges incurred for this. All IRONSMITH quotations show the extra charge for shipping frames early.