What’s the difference between ABS and PVC Pipe?

23 June 2021


Plastic pipes are used in plumbing projects for a variety of purposes by both homeowners and plumbers. Plastic pipes are low-cost, lightweight, and non-corrosive. They keep hot water hot for a long time and don’t trap condensation from cold water like metal pipes do. However, not all plastic pipes are created equal, and the two most popular plastic pipe materials (ABS and PVC) vary significantly.

Which type of pipe is better? This article guides you through the advantages of both PVC and ABS pipes to help you choose which one is best for your construction project!

ABS Pipes Vs. PVC Pipes

Features of ABS Pipes

ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) is a low-cost engineering thermoplastic that can be conveniently fabricated, thermoformed, and machined. Chemical, stress, and creep resistance are all excellent in this thermoplastic material. ABS combines impact, heat, chemical, and abrasion resistance with dimensional stability, tensile strength, surface hardness, rigidity, and electrical properties.

Even at low temperatures, ABS plastic remains stiff, rigid, and tough. It comes in three different types: fire-retardant, heat-resistant, and platable. The impact intensity varies depending on the grade.

The majority of natural ABS resins are translucent to opaque, but transparent grades can be made and pigmented to almost any color. While general-purpose grades may be suitable for certain outdoor applications, prolonged exposure to sunlight changes the color of the material and decreases its hardness, impact strength, and elastic modulus.

Features of PVC Pipes

One of the most commonly used thermoplastics is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It is an easy option for many applications due to its superior combination of properties and low cost.

PVC has strong tensile, flexural, and mechanical resilience, low moisture absorption, and outstanding dimensional stability, as well as excellent chemical and flame resistance, strength-to-weight ratio, and dielectric properties. In addition, the addition of plasticizers, effect modifiers, and other ingredients can easily change it.

PVC is available in rigid and flexible formulations and can be used in the most demanding applications, such as food processing.

What is better PVC or ABS pipe?

ABS and PVC materials, as opposed to other building materials, provide several advantages that make some construction and plumbing jobs much simpler. Increased strength-to-weight ratios, improved reliability, excellent insulation qualities, and low overall costs are just a few of the benefits. ABS and PVC plastic tubing extrusions, on the other hand, have many distinct variations.

These distinctions do not necessarily make one material superior to the other; rather, each of the materials’ physical properties allows for higher performance levels when subjected to specific constraints. When comparing white PVC and black ABS plastic tubing, consider the applications for each.

Characteristics of ABS Pipes

  • ABS pipes are black.
  • ABS pipes are composed of two solid layers of plastic with foam filled between.
  • ABS pipes are light and flexible and will bend on strong impact.
  • ABS pipes can be installed with glue fairly easily.
  • ABS pipes have a temperature range of -40°C to 82°C.
  • ABS pipes will degrade in sunlight.
  • ABS can be used in both above-ground and underground applications.
  • ABS pipes are not resistant to corrosion.
  • ABS pipes are less durable.

Characteristics of PVC Pipes

  • PVC pipes are white/cream.
  • PVC pipes are made of solid plastic.
  • PVC pipes require a two-step installation. The first involves the use of a primer fixer to the joint. After this, glue or solvent cement must be held together for a few minutes.
  • PVC pipes have a maximum operating temperature of 60°C.
  • PVC pipes are resistant to sunlight.
  • PVC pipes are used in drinking water systems and garden piping.
  • PVC pipes are good thermal insulators.
  • PVC pipes are highly resistant to corrosion.
  • PVC pipes are highly durable.

Pipe deterioration testing 

Is ABS safe?

Many of the key differences between Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) are subtle or situational, but one difference is likely to stand out to many homeowners: ABS pipes contain BPA, while PVC pipes do not.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a compound that is widely used to harden plastic. It can be used in a variety of plastic materials, including food and water containers. Although there is no proof that BPA is harmful to humans, animal studies have raised concerns about possible hormonal, neurological, and cardiovascular consequences, among other issues.

Before you spend too much time debating whether to use ABS or PVC plastic piping, keep in mind that your local authority might have already decided for you. Some municipal building codes require the use of one form of pipe over another for drain waste, sewage, or other plumbing projects, whereas others leave it up to plumbers and builders to choose.

Which pipe system should you choose?

While PVC is more flexible than ABS, ABS is more durable and shock resistant. ABS is more resistant to freezing conditions, but it can warp when exposed to direct sunlight. The sound of running water is thought to be muffled better by PVC.

PVC and ABS pipes are both useful in residential and commercial plumbing, but it’s important to understand the differences so you can choose the right option. ABS pipe is ideally suited to underground applications, where temperatures are extremely low and no direct sunlight is present. PVC, on the other hand, is soundproof, making it suitable for indoor plumbing.

What is cheaper PVC or ABS?

The two styles are priced equally in most North American markets. Where there are large price disparities, it’s typically due to one type’s higher shipping costs.

The most significant difference when dealing with these materials is that ABS pipes have a one-step process for connecting pipes, while the PVC process has two stages. PVC pipe ends must first be treated with a purple primer before being bonded with special cement.

ABS pipes can be bonded immediately with special cement. Since the primer is messy and must dry completely before moving on to the next stage, it may add time to a project. As a result, even when the pipes themselves are more costly than PVC, ABS may be the most cost-effective option.

How much does a plumber cost in Quebec? 

Need assistance to get your pipes fitted?

Trust the team of seasoned experts at Plomberie Pro-Drain to provide you with the highest quality and value for your money for all your plumbing needs. Our licensed plumbers will make sure that the plumbing system in your home or business respects building codes and legal requirements.

Have a big renovation project or construction project in the works? We are your go-to source for preparing and implementing your home or business plumbing installation. You may need to link your plumbing system to the municipal water distribution system or install an additional water outlet to have at your disposal, in addition to the work relating to the interior plumbing of your home. These are delicate operations that include work on your home’s foundations.

Any of your plumbing needs, including residential, commercial, and industrial, can be met by contacting us. Our plumbers provide timely, courteous, and personalized service in the greater Montreal area and its environs, whether you’re on the south or north shore!

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