RDS Pipeline


Pipework – Explaining the Different Types

Did you know that the majority of new pipework installations in the UK favour copper?

The variety of materials used in pipework serves different purposes and functions. Understanding the differences between copper, PVC, galvanized steel, PEX, and CPVC pipes can greatly impact the efficiency and longevity of your plumbing system.

Each type has its unique characteristics and benefits, so knowing which one suits your needs best is crucial for maintaining a reliable and durable plumbing infrastructure.

Key Takeaways

  • Copper pipes are durable and suitable for hot/cold water.
  • PVC pipes are lightweight, easy to install, and corrosion-resistant.
  • Galvanized steel pipes are strong but prone to clogs.
  • PEX pipes are versatile, durable, and cost-effective.

Copper Pipework

Copper pipes are commonly utilized in plumbing systems for their durability and resistance to corrosion. When it comes to residential and commercial plumbing, copper pipework has been a popular choice for decades due to its reliability and longevity. The versatility of copper pipes allows them to be used for both hot and cold water supply lines, as well as for refrigerant lines in HVAC systems.

One of the key advantages of copper pipework is its ability to withstand high temperatures, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. The smooth interior surface of copper pipes also promotes efficient water flow, reducing the likelihood of clogs and blockages. Additionally, copper pipes are relatively easy to install and maintain, making them a cost-effective option in the long run.

In terms of safety, copper pipes are non-permeable, meaning they don’t leach harmful substances into the water supply. This makes them a hygienic choice for transporting potable water. Overall, copper pipes are a reliable and durable option for plumbing systems, offering excellent performance and peace of mind.

PVC Pipework

PVC pipes, also known as polyvinyl chloride pipes, are commonly used in plumbing systems for their versatility and cost-effectiveness. These plastic pipes are lightweight, easy to install, and resistant to corrosion, making them a popular choice for both residential and commercial plumbing applications. PVC pipes come in various diameters and lengths to suit different needs, and they can handle a wide range of temperatures and pressures.

One of the key benefits of PVC pipework is itsdurability. They aren’t prone to rust or decay like metal pipes, which contributes to their long lifespan. Additionally, PVC pipes are resistant to chemical reactions, ensuring that they maintain their integrity even when exposed to different substances commonly found in plumbing systems.

When installing PVC pipes, it’s crucial to use the appropriate fittings and solvent cement to create secure joints. Proper installation techniques are essential to prevent leaks and ensure the overall efficiency of the plumbing system. Overall, PVC pipes offer a reliable and cost-effective solution for various piping needs.

Galvanized Steel Pipework

Galvanizing steel pipes involves coating them with a protective layer of zinc to enhance their durability and resistance to corrosion. The process of galvanization creates a barrier between the steel pipe and the surrounding environment, preventing rust and corrosion from compromising the integrity of the pipes. Galvanized steel pipes are commonly used in outdoor applications, such as water distribution systems, fencing, and scaffolding, where they’re exposed to harsh elements.

These pipes are known for their strength and longevity, making them a popular choice for projects that require sturdy and reliable piping. The zinc coating not only protects the steel from corrosion but also provides some level of cathodic protection, further extending the lifespan of the pipes. However, it’s essential to note that galvanized steel pipes can be susceptible to clogs and buildup over time, requiring proper maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

PEX Pipework

Enhancing the flexibility of plumbing systems, PEX pipes offer a versatile solution for various residential and commercial applications. PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene, pipes are known for their durability, corrosion resistance, and ease of installation. These pipes can withstand high temperatures and pressures, making them suitable for both hot and cold water distribution systems.

PEX pipework comes in different colors to distinguish between hot and cold water lines, with red typically indicating hot water and blue for cold water. They’re compatible with various types of fittings, including push-to-connect, crimp, and clamp systems, allowing for easy connections without the need for soldering or glue.

One of the key advantages of PEX pipes is their ability to expand and contract, reducing the risk of burst pipes in freezing temperatures. This flexibility also simplifies installation around corners and obstacles, minimizing the need for additional fittings and reducing the chances of leaks. In addition, PEX pipes are cost-effective and have a long lifespan, making them a popular choice for plumbing projects.

CPVC Pipework

CPVC pipes, also known as chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes, are commonly used in plumbing systems for their excellent chemical resistance and high temperature capabilities. These pipes are suitable for both hot and cold water distribution, making them versatile for various applications. CPVC pipes are easy to install due to their lightweight nature and simple joining methods like solvent cementing or push-fit fittings.

One of the key advantages of CPVC pipes is their ability to withstand high temperatures, making them ideal for hot water systems. They’re also resistant to corrosion, ensuring a longer lifespan compared to traditional metal pipes. Additionally, CPVC pipes are cost-effective and require minimal maintenance, contributing to their popularity in residential and commercial plumbing installations.

It is essential to note that CPVC pipes shouldn’t be used for conveying compressed air or gases, as they may degrade under certain conditions. Proper installation following manufacturer guidelines is crucial to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of CPVC piping systems.


In conclusion, when considering the different types of pipework, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each material.

Copper pipes are durable but can be more expensive.

PVC pipes are affordable but may not withstand high temperatures.

Galvanized steel pipes are strong but can corrode over time.

PEX pipes are flexible but may not be suitable for outdoor use.

CPVC pipes are resistant to chemicals but can be brittle.

Choose wisely to ensure a reliable and efficient plumbing system.