Understanding the Various Types of PVC on the Market

There are several main types of PVC pipe on the market. We’ll list each of them before comparing their pros and cons relative to each other.


PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. PVC pipe is the original form of PVC pipe. It is cheap. It has a proven track record. It is lightweight, easy to install, corrosion resistant and familiar to builders. However, when choosing between PVC and CPVC pipe, know that PVC pipe tends to break down at the same temperature as the water will be coming out of your hot water heater or boiler. This is why many buildings full of PVC pipe still have CPVC pipe for the hot water supply. However, in most other applications where you’re stuck between PVC or CPVC, PVC is good enough. The only question then is whether flexible versus rigid PVC pipe is better for your project. Flexible PVC pipe is often used as insulation for electrical wiring or in the floors of homes. It may be a replacement for rubber, and it is one of the default choices for applications where maintaining a sterile environment is essential. It also gets points for being easily recycled.
PVC pipe is distinguished by its schedule. This refers to things like its wall thickness and internal pressure rating. For example, you may see schedule 40 PVC pipe for water delivery pipes.


CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. CPVC pipe contains more chlorine than PVC pipe. It costs a little more than PVC pipe, but it is as light as PVC pipe and as easy to install. The extra chlorine means it can withstand a broader temperature range than PVC pipe. This makes CPVC pipe a better choice for hot water delivery systems and pipes exposed to cold weather. Both PVC and CPVC are equally good at withstanding exposure to chemicals and human waste. Yet there are times when CPVC is better. For example, CPVC pipe is more resistant to alcohols, halogens, acids and bases. CPVC pipe won’t emit toxic fumes if it melts or is exposed to a fire, either, explaining why CPVC pipe is the default choice for sprinkler systems.


PVC is naturally white and brittle before plasticizers are added. UPVC stands for unplasticized PVC, PVC made with little to none of these plasticizers. When trying to decide between pvc upvc cpvc and other types of plastic pipe, know that the rigid nature of UPVC pipe makes it the better choice for waste removal. It won’t kink and cause wastewater to flood the building you’re trying to send it away from. It is less likely to crack and leak because someone drove heavy vehicles on the ground above the pipes. In rare cases, the upvc cpvc manufacturing process differences lead to someone selecting CPVC because they don’t want phthalates coming into contact with the material flowing through the pipes.
UPVC CPVC should not be confused with PVC-U, a PVC pipe with thicker walls that is able to withstand greater internal pressures. PVC-M and PVC-O pipes are similarly types of PVC pipes made from PVC to operate with greater levels of internal pressure. However, UPVC pipe may be called RPVC, short for rigid PVC pipe.