A Guide to Road Plates

Posted on in Helpful Guides
Red Road Plate

Steel road plates provide a practical, safe solution for temporarily covering excavations and holes at construction sites and vacant properties. These resilient, hard-wearing, and durable metal plates allow roads and lanes to remain open, keeping vehicle and foot traffic flowing continuously and with no disruption.

As a leading supplier of robust security and traffic control equipment, Maltaward offers steel road plates for hire across the UK. Our high-quality steel plates have been regularly sought for commercial and industrial use across construction, education, aerospace, and numerous other sectors.

Maltaward’s high-quality products and commitment to service excellence have allowed us to be a trusted steel road plate provider to hundreds of firms across the UK, with our team always happy to offer steel plate advice and recommendations pre-purchase.

Read on for a detailed guide to understanding, selecting, and installing steel road plates for your project.

What Are Road Plates?

Road plates, also called trench plates or construction plates, are heavy metal plates built to safely cover holes, trenches, or unstable ground. They provide a temporary, sturdy, and secure surface for vehicles and pedestrians to traverse areas where:

  • Construction excavation is taking place
  • Asphalt or concrete road repairs are being carried out
  • Underground utility work is happening
  • Surface instability issues arise and cause safety issues
  • Structural building work has created temporary blockades
  • People need to find alternative, less-travelled routes into buildings or estates

Quality steel plates are constructed from thick structural steel and engineered to withstand heavy vehicle loads. They prevent site hazards, keep traffic moving with minimal obstruction, and provide solid footing for people to walk on with no fears of slips, trips, or falls.

Key Benefits of Hiring Road Plates

Installing high-quality road plates offers several advantages:

  1. Maintain Traffic Flow & Access

Steel plates allow roads, pavements, driveways, and parking areas to remain fully or partially open while construction work is ongoing. This avoids the need for complete closures and keeps commerce and transportation functioning, aided significantly by visible concrete barriers and metal fencing, among other traffic control measures.

  1. Increased Safety

The plates create a smooth, uniform surface that protects the public from tripping hazards and open trenches. This is safer for both passing pedestrians and vehicles, and handy if trying to minimise all risks on construction sites and vacant estates.

  1. Prevent Project Delays

By keeping lanes and sites partially operational, projects stay on schedule without blocking access or productivity. Steel plates help construction firms avoid hefty fines stemming from the inability to meet deadlines, not to mention roadway permits or lane rental agreement terms.

  1. Flexible Applications

Steel trench plates can cover excavations of assorted sizes, span uneven sections, or reinforce unstable areas like marshes. Their durability and custom sizing make them ideal for diverse applications.

Key Specifications to Consider Before Purchasing Road Plates

When looking to hire steel road plates, you should assess:

Plate Thickness and Weight

Plates typically range from 12mm to 25mm thick, with thicker plates proving capable of handling heavier loads, while thinner ones may suffice for lighter duty. Weight often varies due to thickness, but BAA-approved steel plate weights often border around the 850kg range, while steel chequer plates are significantly lighter at 70kg, but only come in thicknesses of 6mm.

Plate Size

Standard steel plate dimensions are 2500mm to 3000mm in length, and 1250mm to 1500mm in width. Certain projects may mandate the use of specific steel plates, but Maltaward can make recommendations for optimal plate sizing and capacity based on your project specifications. Custom road plates are available in sizes of up to 6000mm x 3000mm – please speak to us for more information.

Coatings and Markings

Skid-resistant and anti-slip surface coatings provide stability in wet conditions. Additional markings, corner lifting holes and bevelled edges are available on request to enhance visibility and safety.

Installing Steel Road Plates

Proper steel plate installation is critical for optimising safety and minimising disruption.

Follow these best practices:

  • Use special equipment – cranes, forklifts, and other machinery should be used to safely lift and lower plates into position. Plates are often extremely heavy and should not be manually handled.
  • Prepare surfaces – ensure the installation area is free of any debris and levelled to prevent plates from shifting or teetering.
  • Check for movement – inspect plates post-installation to assess slippage under traffic loads, addressing any imbalances promptly.
  • Mark hazards – highlight plate edges by using reflectors and coatings where applicable.
  • Secure in place – bolt plates into position to ensure greater long-term stability and to prevent misuse.

Steel Road Plate FAQs

What grade are steel road plates? 

Maltaward’s steel road plates are made from high-grade mild carbon steel (containing up to 0.3% carbon), engineered to be robust, resilient, weatherproof, and durable for various types of construction and civil engineering applications. Mild steel is ductile, meaning that it can be welded and shaped into various sizes without losing its inherent strength and toughness.

What thickness are road plates?
Standard road plate thicknesses available from Maltaward are 12mm, 20mm, and 25mm. The standard 2500mm x 1250mm steel plate dimensions can usually suffice with a 12mm thickness for pedestrian and light vehicle traffic, while 20mm and 25mm thick plates can handle heavier loads and traffic flow. BAA-approved steel road plates (i.e. ones used in UK airport installations) require specific sizing but with a 25mm thickness at minimum.

How heavy is a steel road plate? 

The weight of a steel road plate varies depending on its thickness. For example, the standard 3000mm x 1250mm x 25mm BAA-approved plate weighs approximately 883kg, whereas steel chequer plates (much smaller and easier to handle) weigh only 70kg. 

How much weight can a road plate hold? 

The allowable load capacity on a single steel road plate depends on the trench width it is spanning. As a guide, the higher the trench width, the lower the allowable load on a single plate (in kN). Maltaward advises that you validate that there is sufficient load capacity of your road plates before you arrange product deliveries, and get the input of a reliable structural engineer.

What size are steel road plates?
Maltaward offers standard steel road plate sizes of 2500mm x 1250mm (in thicknesses of 12mm, 20mm and 25mm), as well as BAA-approved sizes of 3000mm x 1500mm x 25mm. Custom oversized and bespoke plates up to 6000mm x 3000mm x 25mm are also available upon request.

What are steel road plates used for? 

Steel road plates are designed to provide temporary covers for excavations, trenches, potholes, and other surface defects during construction, utility maintenance, demolition sites, and events with high foot traffic. They allow vehicles and pedestrians to safely cross these areas while work is ongoing.

How do you secure steel road plates?
Standard road plates from Maltaward include pre-drilled corner holes for attaching lifting chains and positioning the plates using site machinery. BAA-approved models feature specialised central slots and locking lift systems for safe handling. Once in place, plates can be bolted down for added stability and security.

Why Choose Maltaward For Your Steel Plate Hire?

With over 30 years of experience providing high-quality roadway protection products and professional security solutions, Maltaward is committed to meeting all of your steel road plate requirements. Our ISO 9001 and FORS Gold-certified team is always on hand to offer advice and recommendations on:

  • Custom steel plate sizing and configuration
  • Skid-resistant coatings
  • Hassle-free delivery and collection (often next day)
  • Project consultations
  • Ways to make the best use of your budget and timescales

For special steel plate hire backed by industry expertise, rely on Maltaward. Contact us today for project guidance and a competitive, no-obligation quote.

Bill G
Bill G
1 July 2024
Very good customer service, competitive price and good communications. Delivery driver was safety conscience, careful and efficient. When I was uncontactable for the 2nd delivery and driver needed access to the sluice through security gates, Maltaward contacted our "national customer contact centre" who provided a contact number and the delivery was made. A big thank you to the company and driver for their persistence and patience. Would highly recommend this company.
Steph Davies
Steph Davies
2 November 2023
I have been using Maltaward for about 12 years, mostly using their traveller eviction services. They have always been very helpful and easy to deal with. No fuss, just get the job done! More recently in my new company, I have brought them in to use utilised their vacant security services. They have worked with me to provide the correct service for our specific requirements. They have a common sense approach to everything. I really cannot recommend the team enough. They have been without a doubt the best security company I have been involved with.
Tom Lampard
Tom Lampard
2 November 2023
Everyone, and I mean everyone!, from the office team to the guys that drop the barriers, at Maltaward is very responsive, polite and genuinely helpful! I have used them at several sites and they have never let me down!
Syanne Mara
Syanne Mara
23 January 2023
Amazing service as always with a quick response time. Maltaward always have a solution to all problems and execute any works or requirements swiftly and thoroughly.
Julie Curtis
Julie Curtis
23 January 2023
Excellent product & delivery. We have ordered from Maltaward several times and we can't fault them.
21 November 2022
Quick turnaround and a good job. Many thanks .
Ian Rhoden
Ian Rhoden
26 August 2022
Great experience Keith was top-notch
Declan Goldie
Declan Goldie
9 August 2022
I have used maltaward for years. Jim has been very helpful throughout this time. Thanks
Sally Atkins
Sally Atkins
1 July 2022
Just wanted to say a big thankyou to your driver Del, although he didn’t like nettles :) he carried out the job with no bother. Would highly recommend Maltaward

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