Comparing Metal With Plastic Piping Formats

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Comparing Metal With Plastic Piping Formats

comparing metal plastic piping

Throughout numerous industries, from construction to plumbing and many others in between piping is a vital commodity. Those in need of significant piping materials will often have a broad choice to make: Plastic and composite pipes, or metal options like steel?

At Wasatch Steel, we’re proud to offer a wide range of steel pipe to go along with our numerous other steel products and services. While modern plastic piping formats are high-quality and have many valuable characteristics, there are scenarios where they fall well short of steel and other metal pipe options. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over everything you need to know about both types, plus how to choose between a few options when it comes to metal piping based on your project needs and budget.

Plastic Piping Basics, Benefits and Potential Drawbacks

For starters, it’s important to understand that there are a few different types of plastic piping available today. The most common is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), but there are also CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) and other options available.

Plastic piping of all types is valuable because of its resistance to corrosion, which is needed in many piping situations. PVC piping, in particular, is relatively inexpensive and easy to install, plus can be joined using clamps, couplets or other welding techniques. However, it has one major drawback: It is not meant to hold up to high temperatures, meaning it cannot be used for hot water lines or other drinking water purposes.

CPVC and PEX pipe have better heat resistance, but each of these also comes with drawbacks – PEX pipe, for instance, cannot be connected to a hot water heater directly, and requires a section of copper tubing in between. Some plastic pipes may also be less durable than their metal counterparts.

How Steel Pipes Benefit You

For many centuries, metal piping was generally made from brass, cast iron, copper or another type of metal. Brass and copper, in particular, were commonly used due to their natural corrosion resistance properties, though they do occasionally have issues with aging over a period of decades and the lead used to connect them in many past decades.

In recent decades, however, steel has become the most common metal used for piping. This is because it’s naturally corrosion resistant, plus extremely strong, tough and durable. It’s also versatile and can be used in a variety of marine-related environments, including numerous plumbing or sewage applications. Unlike certain forms of plastic piping, there are no risks associated with steel piping when it comes to heat resistance or connections to water heaters and similar products.

In part two of this series, we’ll go over some of the common steel and other metal piping formats. To learn more about this or any of our steel products, speak to the staff at Wasatch Steel today.