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A grate is a furniture-type item. It is used as a construction material for wall grates and floor grates. Grates can be constructed from stone or ore (with the masonry labor at a mason's workshop), wood (with the carpentry labor in a carpenter's workshop), metal bars (with the blacksmithing labor at a forge), or glass (with the glassmaking labor at a glass furnace).
A wall grate is basically a fortification, but with two differences:
- It is a building instead of a construction. It doesn't overwrite the tile below it, and it can be smashed by building destroyers.
- It can be linked to a lever or pressure plate. Once linked, it works like a linked door which doesn't stop fluids, arrows or Miasma when closed.
Wall grates act as boundaries for rooms being resized, but they do not provide support for doors. Unlike a constructed wall, the grate has some quality level and can be decorated.
A floor grate is similar to a floor or a closed floor hatch in that it can be walked upon and blocks creature and item movement between Z-levels. However, it lets water and magma through like an open tile. Floor grates block projectiles, unlike wall grates. They do not block line of sight. Floor grates can be linked to a lever or a pressure plate. When triggered, a floor grate opens like a hatch, but with a 100-tick delay.
Floor grates must be attached orthogonally (i.e. not diagonally) to firm ground or some solid construction (a wall, floor, etc.), not (just) other grates. Floor grates placed directly on top of a floor or staircase still require orthogonal support, even though their own tile should be able to provide support. Attempting to construct a floor grate supported only by its own tile will display the message "Surrounded by empty space". Removing the orthogonal support from a constructed floor grate will cause it to harmlessly deconstruct.
A floor grate does NOT count as solid construction. It will not support any buildings or constructions. However, you can designate a construction to be built orthogonally to it with no other supports. This will cause the construction to cave-in immediately after being completed. This can be useful for controlled cave-ins.
Stockpiles cannot be placed over floor grates.
Floor grates over empty space block miasma from rising through them (miasma will normally flow upward through empty space).
Bars vs. grates
Vertical/horizontal bars are largely identical to wall/floor grates. There are just a few notable differences between them:
- Grates are finished goods (which must be produced from raw materials) and have quality levels (and thus boost your fortress's architecture value significantly), while bars are simply raw materials that can be thrown into place at a moment's notice and then deconstructed later should they be needed later for other jobs.
- Building destroyers will topple bars, destroying them in seconds compared to minutes with grates.
- Grates can be made from wood and stone, both of which are generally much more plentiful than the materials for bars.
- Floor grates can be very useful in preventing fortress floods. This is done by channeling out holes in multiple layers of a fortress and covering them with floor grates, which will just keep the liquid flowing down each level through the grates instead of building up on a Z-level. This is assuming there is a reservoir of some sort that the water can flow into and not dangerously build up.
- If you wish to remove a floor piece that is linked to a grate, make sure that the dwarf that carries out the job does not stand on the grate, or remove all grates first. The grate will not be supported, and fall (with your non-careful dwarf on it), and you will experience the famous idiom: "It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end."
- This can also happen vice versa when building multiple floor tiles at a time with floor grates directly beside them. Dwarves will attempt to build the floor supported by just the floor grate regardless of how the game treats it. This can be very unfortunate if Urist McNotPhysicist builds a floor under these circumstances over a lake, experiencing a cave-in resulting in them most likely getting knocked over from the dust, drowning and you ending up with a hard-to-reach corpse.
- On a similar note, be cautious when removing a large number of grates next to each other, as a dwarf trying to remove a grate will stand on one his neighbor is about to yank out from under his feet. This can be largely avoided by removing them in batches of alternating grates (IE: Grates 1, 3, 5 then 2, 4, 6, etc...)
- Floor grates can be used in watchtowers: place a locked-in animal on top of them, and let them observe possible intruders from above. Since no alternative route to the watcher exists, building destroyers cannot destroy the grate. Getting the animal in place can be tricky, if the floor is all grates - pitting is an option. Bonus points for combining this with an automated magma release valve.
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