Ever since plumbing was invented, the materials utilized for the piping system have been a crucial factor. In the early days of plumbing, clay and lead piping were used to transport water to homes and other public structures. Then in the early twentieth century, materials such as copper, cast iron, terra-cotta, and galvanized steel were applied. In addition, lead piping was common and the material selection for plumbing pipes until World War II.

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Still, as the knowledge about lead poisoning increased, its popularity ended. So after World War II, galvanized screw piping gained attention and became the material choice for plumbing pipes inside houses, but only until the 1970s. This is because copper material became well-known. Let’s discuss further the different plumbing pipe materials, along with their pros and cons.

Copper Pipes

Copper is among the most conventional materials for plumbing pipes and remains a popular choice as of today. There are two main types of copper pipes that can be used together to outfit a whole plumbing system, which are rigid copper and flexible copper.

●    Advantages

○     Long Lasting

This material has proven to be a reliable material since it can last at least half a century.

○     Durable

Copper is a robust element that is prone to neither corrosion nor leakage.

○     Safe

Note that bacteria cannot thrive in copper pipes. Also, it will not pollute water in any way, so it is secure to transport drinking water.

○     Recyclable

This element can be recycled whenever it needs to be replaced.

○     Temperature Tolerance

Copper can stand up to extreme temperature changes, including hot and cold water temperatures.

●    Disadvantages

○     Financial Cost

The main deterrent in applying copper is the cost since its value as a global commodity has gone up recently.

○     Environmental Cost

Environmentally-conscious homeowners may be concerned that copper mining and production could take a toll on the environment.

Galvanized Steel Pipes

Galvanized piping used to be the material selection for residential plumbing, and it is still what many people think of a plumbing system. The steel pipes are coated with zinc to prevent rusting. The ends of pipes are threaded so they can be screwed into each other.

●    Advantages

○     Robust

These pipes are undoubtedly strong.

●    Disadvantages

○     Short Lifespan

Galvanized steel pipes last about 20 to 50 years before they begin to break down. This lifespan may not seem too short compared to other types.

○     Rust

Rust can build up inside over time, and in most cases, it can break loose from the inside walls of the pipe and end up mixing with the water when it flows through, discoloring the water.

○     Lead Contamination

Lead can leach into the water inside if pipes become corroded, making it unsafe to drink.

○     Clogs

Mineral build-up inside of galvanized pipes can form clogs that block water flow over time,

○     Weight

The downside to galvanized pipes is that they are very sturdy, which tends them to be also extremely heavy.

○     Vulnerability

When galvanized pipes are damaged, their external galvanization is compromised, making the pipe vulnerable to corrosion in a short period.

Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes

Polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC, has become a popular option for plumbing pipes recently. This material is a thermoplastic polymer, meaning it is made out of a combination of vinyl and plastic. PVC pipes are typically rigid and white, cream, or grey in color.

Furthermore, they are often used in highly pressurized water, like in a house’s main water supply line. PVC pipes work in various applications, such as for transporting potable water and for draining.

●    Advantages

○     Long Life

PVC is not subject to rust or corrosion, so it can last unless it experiences unexpected damage. In fact, even the most durable metals used in plumbing pipes cannot live up to the excellent lifespan of PVC.

○     Can Handle Pressure

PVC is often used for the main supply line that goes into your home because it is able to handle high water pressure.

○     Ease of Use

PVC is extremely light compared to metal pipes, making it easy to transport and to work with.

○     Low Cost

PVC is low in cost, most particularly when compared to copper.

●    Disadvantages

○     Susceptible to Warping

However, PVC is not functional in transporting hot water since, like most plastics, high temperatures can cause the PVC material to warp and melt.

○     Size

Sizing choices for PVC pipes are limited. Also, even if your PVC piping is the ideal size, the fittings used to connect PVC pipes can tend to be bulky, which can be an issue in tight spaces. If you are looking for custom pipes and fittings, click here to check Tubomart, a reliable pipe and valves manufacturer.


Choosing the ideal plumbing pipe material for your piping system could overwhelm you. This is why we hope that this article has been helpful by differentiating each material and laying down all its pros and cons to help you in decision making.

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