Taking on a plumbing project can be intimidating, especially when you start looking for piping and realize how many different options are available to you. This decision carries even more weight because, when it comes to plumbing, selecting the right tubing and pipe fittings for your pipes is critical.

Installing the wrong plumbing fixture can cause a slew of problems, ranging from corrosion to injury.

Here are some details about the most common types of plumbing piping, fittings and what they are best used for to help you make a decision.

First, Understand the Terms

Consider this your introduction to plumbing systems. The following terms will be used a lot in this piece and when you go to get hardware. Familiarizing yourself with the terms will help ensure you buy the suitable materials in each category.

  • Pipes: These are the foundation of all plumbing systems. Pipes are pathways through which fluids flow and are contained in a system. The fluids in question may be fuel oil, water, glycol solution, and refrigerant liquid.
  • Pipe Fittings: Pipe fittings are fixtures used to connect one point of a tube or pipe to another end. They come in different shapes, materials, and sizes and are used to join, attach, or lengthen pipes.
  • Pipe Tubing: Tubings are very similar in style and look to a pipe. The only difference is that unlike pipes, tube fittings are typically only used for structural purposes, not for the transfer of gas and liquid.

Pipe Materials and Their Most Common Applications in Plumbing Design

Some of the most popular pipe materials on the market today are listed below. There are numerous variations of linings, coatings, manufacturing differences, and more from this pool, so this is just an overview to help guide you.

HDPE Fittings and Pipes (High Density Polyethylene)

HDPE is a flexible, long-lasting plastic made from petroleum. The insoluble material is shockproof, weatherproof, and abrasion-resistant.

As a result of its properties, HDPE fittings and pipes are commonly used in drainage and irrigation systems. These are a popular choice for plumbing systems in uneven terrains because they can be buried beneath the earth or sunk in water.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel is simply steel that has been zinc-coated. Unlike regular steel, this extra coating makes it more rust-resistant.

This type of piping material is less common in modern plumbing systems due to the availability of other materials such as HDPE, but it was common in homes built before 1960. The issue with galvanized steel pipes is that the zinc coating eventually erodes, resulting in rust.

Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX)

PEX tubing is commonly used in residential plumbing systems with heating applications. Its flexible membrane prevents oxygen and other molecules from penetrating and corroding the critical mechanical parts of heating systems.

PEX is an easy plumbing material to use because it is lightweight and it bends, so it is often used to transport potable water as well.


Copper piping is made of copper, which is a naturally occurring element found in water, animals, plants, rock, and dirt. As such, it is used in plumbing systems with both cold and hot water applications.

It is an expensive plumbing material, but it has the advantage of weighing less than steel and being more corrosion-resistant in general. It is important to note, however, that PVC has largely replaced copper in many applications because it is less expensive.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is a piping material made of vinyl and plastic that is highly resistant to chemical attacks and corrosion from most salts, acids, fungi, alkalis, and bacteria.

It is commonly used in residential applications, but it has also gained popularity in industrial and commercial plumbing applications where the liquid temperature does not exceed 140°F, as it may soften and lose shape at this temperature.

Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride (CPVC)

CPVC has most of the same properties as PVC, with the exception of a cross-linked chlorine molecule added to give it greater resistance over a wide temperature range. This added chlorine feature makes it more durable and straightforward to use. It is frequently used in domestic hot-water systems.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is an iron alloy containing 2% to 4% carbon, as well as manganese, silicon, and traces of impurities such as phosphorus and sulphur. It is well-known for its use in pots. Still, it is also widely used in sanitary drains in older buildings due to its durability, strength, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures.


Brass is a zinc and copper alloy.

While brass can be used for plumbing pipes, it is rarely used because of how expensive it is. Brass fittings for plumbing systems and other household items such as bearings, locks, and doorknobs are more common.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is an abrasion-resistant, non-toxic material that is used to make pipes for wastewater and sewage drainage systems in most homes.

ABS pipes are easily confused with PVC pipes because they have the same properties, but ABS is easier to install. The only disadvantage is that it is more likely to lose its shape when exposed to sunlight because it has a low melting point.

Which Pipe Material Should You Use for Your Plumbing System?

Given the wide range of pipe materials in terms of construction and application, the answer to this question would be dependent on a number of factors unique to your plumbing project. Not to worry; if you carefully consider the following factors, you should be able to choose the best piping materials for each component of your plumbing design:

  • Building regulations in your area
  • The type of fluid carried in the system
  • Proposed fluid temperature
  • Fluid flow rate and pressure
  • The service life of the project
  • Schedule for the project
  • Local labour knowledge.

One Last Thing: Where to Buy Pipes and Pipe Fittings

The question should not be where, but rather, what to look for before purchasing from a specific manufacturer or supplier. As a best practice, ensure that they are licensed to manufacture or supply pipes. This is especially true for the plastic-based piping materials cited on this list.

This way, you can be certain that you are purchasing goods from the best plastic products manufacturing company in the UAE or wherever your location may be. Only then can you be sure that the pipes and fittings you are buying meet industry standards.

Jackson Martin

Jackson Martin, holding a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas, has been a prominent figure in the home improvement sector for over 18 years. He joined our team in 2020, sharing his expertise in renovation techniques, sustainable building practices, and DIY projects. Jackson's previous experience includes working in residential construction management and as a home renovation consultant. He is an advocate for energy-efficient homes and enjoys participating in local marathon events.

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