A Guide to Manhole Covers


Manhole (or inspection, access, chamber, drain) covers can be found everywhere you go every day, from roads to warehouses, swimming pools to local parks, patios to restaurant kitchens, gardens and driveways. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, weights and applications.

This guide and FAQ provides a quick, simple explanation of manhole covers and how you can determine which one is required for the job.


Types of Manhole Cover

Manhole covers are generally split into three main categories:

Recessed covers have an inset tray which is used where tiling, block paving or any type of infill is required, leaving only a few millimetres of the frame visible.

Flush (or solid top) covers have fitted flush with the ground and the entire product is visible when installed.

Cast and ductile iron covers are the same as flush covers, but there is also a sub-category of gully gratings. An example of these would be your typical kerbside grating.

In addition, we stock 'decorative' covers for areas where aesthetics are paramount, led by our Double & Triple Sealed Aluminium range.


Stainless Steel covers are also “decorative” but also used in areas with chemical such as swimming pools, commercial kitchens or by the seaside

In addition, we stock 'decorative' covers for areas where aesthetics are paramount, led by our Double & Triple Sealed Aluminium range.



Replacing a Cover

In the vast majority of cases you will be best replacing the manhole cover itself and the frame in which it sits.

This is because you will face difficulty sourcing a cover that fits perfectly into the existing frame, potentially compromising the installation and its safety too. Therefore the old cover and frame both need to be removed and after carefully measuring the size required a new cover and frame should then be purchased.


A tray only can be purchased for an old frame can still be purchased. These are bespoke so cost a little more than a complete unit, take approx. & 3 weeks to produce.


Measuring the Correct Size

The most common mistakes made with manhole covers come with the measurements. Within the entire industry, they are measured based on their clear opening size.

This is the aperture size that is left when the cover is removed from the frame, as shown in the diagram below:

The clear opening size is equivalent to the size of your chamber. It is not uncommon for people to measure the overall size of an existing manhole cover, but we strongly advise against this as manhole covers can have the same clear opening and different overall sizes.

It is also important to know the total cover or internal tray depth, depending upon the type of manhole cover you require.

Flags and tiles for example can go into a shallow cover, block paving more like an 80-100mm deep cover…etc.







Can I fit a square manhole cover into a round chamber?

Yes, there are a select few manhole covers which are square-to-round, meaning they will fit square or round chambers. These covers include the T1G3, CLKS 450SR/46SL, CLKS 450SR and 300SR. A round opening can be surrounded by a square opening cover. Simply finish the visible quadrants with concrete for neatness.


Do you offer installation?

Unfortunately, we do not offer an installation service. We recommend local handypeople or builders. The process is also usually quite straightforward and any budding DIY’er can undertake.

I have a heavy traffic manhole cover but it has been broken by a forklift, why?

Forklifts have solid wheels which apply pressure differently to standard pneumatics and therefore covers must be specially adapted to suit this.


I have measured my cover and nothing in your range fits!

If you lift the lid of your current cover and measure the inner dimension of the chamber walls this is your “clear opening”. Our website list sizes by the clear opening so we should have something to suit as chambers are generally built to standard dimensions. The overall size of the cover and frame is bigger as they are supported on the ground around the hole in the ground,

I installed a recessed manhole cover in my garden and filled it with grass but it’s just dying; what can I do?

We produce bespoke GrassTopswhich feature drainage holes and geotextile membranes, allowing the water to drain through and your grass to grow. These are also suitable for other infill materials such as chippings, gravel and suchlike.

I’ve measured my clear opening size but none of your covers match it, can you offer anything?

It’s likely that your cover is quite old and in imperial measurements which are no longer manufactured. However, we can offer bespoke solutions with manhole covers made to the specification you require. It is also often cheaper and quicker to place a larger cover around the hole in the ground., there is rarely a reason you cannot go for a bigger cover.

I haven't installed my cover yet, can you offer any advice on the installation process?

If you are still unsure after reading this guide, free to get in touch or read through these additional tips.

The project I’m working on requires a manhole cover with a quality finish, what’s available?

Naturally, galvanised steel or black polypropylene covers aren’t always ideal, and so we offer brass or stainless steel edging, as well as complete stainless steel covers, and of course our new aluminium range.

Odours are coming through where I have installed my manhole cover, why?

Your cover must be sealed and locked, or neoprene sealed, so you would require a T-Range Cover, or if you require a solid top, a selection of the PC range (e.g. PC2BG3, PC6CG3, not PC2BG) are suitable.

I need access through my manhole cover on a regular basis, is this possible?

Yes, many covers have built-in lifting keys, and for those that don’t we also supply lifting keys. However, the best way to obtain easy access is to have a bespoke, hinged manhole cover. We also offer spring and gas assisted lifting.

Here at Recessed Manhole Covers, part of EcoGrid Ltd, our highest priority is the innovation and development of new and existing products with a continued dedication to the highest standards of quality and customer service. With an ever increasing focus on environmental issues, our Research & Development Team support the launch of a growing number of new products to the industry with many products independently certified to British, European and International standards.

Alongside our standard product portfolio, we have the capability and capacity to create bespoke, individual products as well as component parts. If you are interested in this service please contact one of our sales team to discuss your requirements. We also have the facilities to carry out product development and testing on your behalf. Costs for this may be applicable but could be waived if manufactured by us and the item is purchased.

Delivery lead times for stock items are 2-3 working days standard and we offer a next working days.

A delivery vehicle broke my manhole lid

If you have a cracked ductile lid the best solution is to break out the existing frame and install a suitable new cover and frame. Bespoke lids only are available so please fill in your details on the bespoke form section of the website.

I have built an extension and an outside manhole will now be inside the house

You will need a sealed and locked cover such as those in the sealed & locked, water & odour proof, triple sealed aluminium or stainless steel sections. The best option is a recessed cover which can be infilled with tiles etc to look more discreet in the floor.

I need a cover to fit my tile size

Normally you would buy a manhole cover with a clear opening that matches the size of the access chamber or hole in the ground and cut tiles in the most appropriate way. For aesthetics we have been asked to supply covers that match tile sizes. The best way is to have a cover made that has an overall frame size of your tile. The tile will need to be trimmed to fit inside the tray but your grout lines will run in straight lines which will be visually appealing. We have covers in the tile size section with discreet barrel lifting points.

Can I put a sealed cover over a cess pit to stop smells

This is something you may need to discuss with the manufacturer of the tank. A sealed cover would stop odour but there may be a build up of gases so an alternative venting point may be required.