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A Guide to Choosing the Right Plumbing Material

Plumbing projects can be overwhelming, especially once you start shopping for pipes and realize you have tons of options. Does your building need PVC pipes or copper ones? Maybe the specific function requires galvanized pipes instead. When it comes to plumbing materials, you must adhere to the standards, especially if you’re installing a water line.

To help you make sense of these choices, we enumerated the most common plumbing pipe materials and their applications.

Plumbing Materials

1. PVC Pipes

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are the most commonly used plumbing pipes for residential properties. They can also be used for irrigation and drainage. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to join since there’s no welding involved. What’s more, PVC pipes are durable and don’t bend under pressure. Unfortunately, heat can warp the plastic material, so PVC pipes are mainly used for cold-water applications.

2. CPVC Pipes

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes are similar to PVC but have more chlorine added to the material. Because of this, CPVC pipes are more durable and corrosion-resistant than PVC pipes. They can also withstand water temperatures of up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, making them applicable for both hot and cold water line applications, like hot water deliveries and drains.

3. PEX Pipes

Cross-linked polyethylene or PEX pipes are another type of durable plastic plumbing material. Like CPVC, PEX pipes are resistant to both hot and cold water temperatures. They are also highly flexible, so they can be bent around corners and snaked through the walls and floors of a building. These characteristics make PEX pipes the perfect choice for retrofitting older homes and installing hydronic heating systems like radiant underfloor heating and heated towel racks.

4. Stainless-steel Pipes

Buildings in or near coastal areas as well as humid areas subject to corrosion benefit from stainless steel pipes since they are corrosion resistant. These pipes are also extremely durable, can be flexible or rigid, and have a high strength-to-weight ratio. These make a 22-mm stainless-steel pipe perfect for industrial plumbing purposes.

5. Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are durable, heat and corrosion-resistant, and last for a long time. Thus, copper pipes have become a traditional material for most residential plumbing applications. These pipes can be used for both underground and aboveground plumbing lines, whether for hot and cold water distribution or refrigerant lines in HVAC systems. The only significant downsides to using copper pipes are the price and installation difficulty. Copper is one of the most expensive plumbing materials, and its installation is labor-intensive.

6. Galvanized Pipes

Copper pipes and galvanized steel pipes were primarily used for residential plumbing projects until recently. They are made from steel or iron piping and coated with zinc to help prevent corrosion. Some homes still use galvanized pipes for water supply lines, but the installation is labor-intensive, so they are rarely used now.

7. Brass Pipes

Brass is an alloy, which means it’s a mixture of metals. Pipes that are about 85 percent copper are rust-resistant and do not get damaged by high temperatures. They also allow for tight seals, so they’re safe to use for drinking water as long as the brass is lead-free.

As you can see, different plumbing materials have different uses. Before starting your plumbing project, go through this list so that you can choose the right fit for your project.

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