7 Types of Pipes: How to Choose the Right One for Your Commercial or Residential Project?


Contractors and homeowners use pipe for various types of commercial and residential projects such as water lines, natural gas piping, and sewer systems. With such a variety of pipes available, such as steel, copper, and PVC, it may be hard for you to determine which one is the best for your specific needs. Below you’ll learn the basics of seven different types of pipes that are commonly used for commercial and residential projects.

Steel Pipes

There are many ways that you can use steel pipes for residential or commercial projects. Steel is often used for the piping of water mains, natural gas, and sewer systems. Steel often costs more than other types of pipes, but the durability and longevity of these pipes are unmatched. You can purchase steel in longer pieces than other types of pipes, which makes this material more convenient and less costly when it’s installed.

Steel pipes have a superior flow rate, so you can use pipes that have a smaller diameter. If you want an environmentally friendly option, consider using steel pipes for your next project because steel is recyclable. Steel resists damage from vibrations and, rather than breaking, it will flex and bend. If you’re unsure about the size or amount of pipe you need, go to varnerpipe.com and contact them with questions you may have about purchasing steel pipe.

Concrete Pipes

Reinforced steel-concrete pipes can last up to 100 years, and they’re available in various sizes and diameters for any residential or commercial project. Mainly used for heavy-duty water supply and transport, such as irrigation, culverts, and drainage for stormwater, these pipes can handle the weight of highway traffic and foundation wall pressure.

You can join concrete pipes with profile gaskets and mortar joints. Design requirements are not an issue with these types of pipes, as precast models are available for trenches, tunnels, and bridges. As an extra measure of security, you can further protect the concrete with specific coatings or liners.

Asbestos Cement Pipes

Since 1913, commercial and residential projects have included the use of asbestos cement pipes for sewage systems, electrical cabling, and gas mains. You can expect these resilient pipes to last 30 years without succumbing to degradation. Depending on their use, it’s not uncommon for asbestos cement pipes to last up to 70 years. Fabricators make these pipes with approximately 90 percent cement and 10 percent asbestos fibers.

Advantages of asbestos cement pipes include resistance to corrosive liquids or soils and resilience to compaction. Fluctuations in temperature won’t affect these kinds of pipes and the interior portion of the pipe is smooth, which keeps hydraulic friction to a minimum. Manufacturers produce asbestos cement pipes in various pressure ranges and multiple diameters, which is achieved by adding layers during the fabrication process. You’ll be able to make connections at the flexible joints.

Plastic or PVC Pipes

Many homeowners use pipes that are made of plastic material, called polyvinyl chloride, for their inside plumbing needs. This includes drain lines for the sink, tub and toilet, and the main water line coming into the house. PVC can only transport cold and warm water throughout the home. You can’t use this material for hot water because the heat will cause the plastic to warp. For hot water lines inside the home, you can purchase chlorinated PVC, also called CPVC.

It’s also a good idea to not use PVC in outside areas in full sun, as this can eventually cause the pipe to become weakened and brittle. When shopping for a PVC pipe, you’ll find that there are two sizes or schedules. The one marked Schedule 40 is the size that’s used most often by homeowners. Schedule 80 PVC has somewhat more strength because the walls of the pipe have a greater thickness.

Cast Iron Pipes

Many homeowners and commercial business owners use cast iron pipes for their sewers and inside water lines. This material is one of the least expensive and it has a lifespan of over 50 years. Additionally, cast iron has favorable insulating properties, which means you won’t hear the water running through your pipes, so extra insulation isn’t needed. Due to its durability, this material can easily handle high-pressure applications with ease.

The strength of cast iron makes it an effective choice for sewer lines because of the heavy load of soil and rock that must cover the pipe. You can join cast iron with caulking or single piece compression corrosion-resistant gaskets. Cast iron is available in four classes based on the interior thickness and the outside diameter of the pipe.

Copper Pipes

If you’re looking for a lightweight material to use for the water pipes inside your house, copper may just be the answer. Since copper doesn’t weigh very much, many people use it in their homes and businesses when they have to install a long length of water pipe without using braces. This material is also somewhat flexible, which makes it easier to fit into tight spaces.

You can join copper pipes with or without soldered fittings, which also simplifies the installation process. To use a compression fitting, you place a fitting over the end of the pipe and then tighten a nut over the component. If you don’t want to use fittings, you can use an expansion tool to mold a socket and then place a pipe of the same size into the opening.

Galvanized Iron Pipes

Manufacturers fabricate this type of piping by covering the steel pipes with a layer of zinc, which keeps them from deteriorating and rusting. Exposing iron to water and oxygen causes rust to form, and the steel will rapidly decline. Since zinc has more of a reaction than iron does, the zinc oxidizes instead of the steel.

Galvanized iron pipes are available in many thicknesses, which depends on what you’re using them for. You should use lighter and mid-grade pipes for plumbing inside the home or a building. Heavier pipe functions best for outside water lines and other underground uses. If you suspend these pipes in the air, you must install a brace at intervals of 6 to 8 feet.

There are advantages to every kind of pipe so, after narrowing down your choices, consider your project needs and budget. It’s also important to consider the longevity of the pipes and not just the upfront costs. After taking everything into consideration, you’ll be able to choose with confidence.


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