Diamond plate is a metal product that is typically made from either steel or aluminum. The name comes from the fact that a raised diamond pattern is present on the surface of the metal. In order to create this pattern, a hot rolling process is typically used. The primary use for diamond plate is as a textured flooring material on stairways, catwalks, and steps, though it can also serve entirely aesthetic purposes. Less expensive imitation diamond plate is typically made of sheet metal with the pattern stamped into it.
Most diamond plate is create through a hot rolling process, where sheets of steel or aluminum are passed through two rollers that compress the metal. The type of pattern is dictated by indentations on one of the rollers, which are used to create raised shapes on the final plate material. Indentations can also be created if one of the rollers has raised portions to press into the sheet. A variety of diamond patterns have been used to create checker, herringbone, and other visual effects.
Diamond plate first appeared in the middle of the 20th century and was used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications. The initial use of the material was as an anti-skid surface to provide additional traction. It can be used indoors, though it is especially useful on outdoor catwalks and steps that may become wet or muddy. Semi-trucks and heavy equipment that require the driver to step or climb up into a cab can also make use of the extra traction this type of plate can offer.
After it was initially used for utilitarian purposes, a market appeared for more aesthetic applications. In addition to providing traction, the diamond pattern is also seen as visually attractive to many people. Diamond plate can be used as a trim material, for kicker panels, molding, or other uses. Common among all of these uses is that the plate will not be walked on, so the pattern is purely aesthetic.
In addition to hot rolled steel and aluminum, diamond plate can also sometimes be found in a stamped sheet metal form. This imitation plate is typically less expensive but also less durable. It may offer some increased traction, though the stamped diamonds will tend to depress or wear down faster. Stamped sheet metal can also be used for decorative purposes, since the lack of durability is often less of a concern in such applications.