5 Common Types of Pipe Materials Used in Home Improvement

Piping is one of the essential components worth paying attention to during home improvement. The gas, water sewer lines should be fitted with high-quality, durable pipes to ensure continuous availability of such service. Proper piping also improves your home’s resale value.

Below is an in-depth analysis of the common materials used in homes for piping systems and their applications. The post also explains why Chlorinated PVC, CPVC duct pipe, and stainless steel should not form part of your piping plan.

#1 PEX

PEX refers to cross-linked polyethylene pipes. They are the most common types of home plumbing since the 1990s. They are easy to install, flexible and you can easily add them to old as well as new piping systems. PEX pipes come in different colors, but the standard colors are blue and red.

The main disadvantage of this type of pipe is that it is easily affected by direct sunlight. Consequently, they are used in enclosed places. Again, some types of PEX pipes can be too expensive.

Types of Applications

PEX is commonly used in water supply. Hot water supply lines are usually done by red PEX tubing while cold ones are supplied in blue PEX tubing. However, unlike PVC, the cross-linked polyethylene pipes are not used for drain lines.

#2 Plastic Piping

The use of plastic piping systems has increased astoundingly from their first introduction in the 1930s. The main advantage of using plastic pipe systems is that it allows the use of sustainable green technologies in home remodeling.

Types of Applications

You can utilize plastic pipes in several home systems. The first area is the non-pressure applications such as drain, waste and vent, DWV, sewers, and drains. You can also use it for pressurized home applications such as the supply of hot and cold water as well as other service water systems.

Other applications are;

  • Swimming pool piping
  • Fire sprinkler supply
  • Radiant floor heating
  • Chilled water systems

#3 PVC Pipes

The use of polyvinyl chloride pipe is common in homes built in the 1950s and after. The pipes are nearly similar to white plastic pipes except for the markings along its length. The markings indicate a pipe’s diameter and temperature ratings.

PVC pipes are common in homes because they are not easily degradable, and neither corrodes nor rusts. Even more, they are recyclable.

Types of applications

You can re-pipe your home to include PVC pipes in different implementations. However, they are not suitable for hot water supply lines. The best systems where you can have PVC is in drain lines of your bathtub, toilet, and sink.

The use of PVC pipes for drinking water is discouraged because, until 1990, most of the heat stabilizers used in the making of these pipes were lead-based. The use has since been discontinued in Europe, but they may still be available in the US market.

#4 Copper Pipes

Copper has been part of the home piping system for over 70 years. It usually forms a thin-walled small diameter pipe. Copper is known for its heat tolerance, durability, and long lifespan.

The main disadvantage of using copper pipes is that the joints are of lead solder. Again, the market price of copper has continuously increased, making it a costly piping option.

Types of Applications

Rigid copper is best used for water supply, as it is durable and sturdy. It can handle both hot and cold water supplies. You can also use them to re-pipe your DWV system.

If you wish to minimize the number of copper fittings, then you can opt for soft copper pipes. They are flexible hence can be routed without the use of the joints. However, they are costlier than the rigid options.

#5 Galvanized Pipes

It is common in most houses built that are older than 30 years. They are rarely used in modern homes for obvious reasons. Galvanized steel pipes have limited lifetime. While the outer part is corrosion resistant, mineral deposits usually clog and erode the inner section of the tube. The breakdown of the zinc coating can also lead to low water pressure.

Types of Applications

Galvanized steel was mostly used in water supply lines. However, the issues with corrosions, leaks, low pressure, and water discoloration have led to the reduced preference of this type of piping.

Materials Not Commonly Used in Home Applications

There are some piping materials which you should not consider for your home piping. They include:

CPVC Duct Pipes

Chlorinated PVC pipes are suitable for applications such as water supply, heat transfer, and sprinkler systems. However, they are not used commonly because when they freeze, they become brittle and cracks easily.

CPVC duct pipes, on the other hand, are for exhaust applications. They can handle high temperatures and are only used in open-air systems. The type of duct pipe is not suitable for home applications primarily because they are mostly designed for industrial use.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel pipes are very durable because of their high corrosion resistance. Consequently, they are suitable for homes in coastal regions. However, it is rarely used in the home piping system because it is costly. It also requires the use of specialized couplings to connect it to other piping systems.


There are five common types of residential pipes. Each option comes with its specific advantages, limitations, and areas of use. It is vital that you consider the piping needs of your home and your home improvement budget.

Features such as durability, corrosion, cost, and suitable area of application are factors worth considering before settling for any of the five alternatives. CPVC duct pipe and stainless steels are options you should avoid. Contact a qualified plumber or piping system supplier for guidance on the best choice for your home.

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