PVC Piping Grades – Understanding the Differences

Written by  //  November 30, 2016  //  Construction Materials  //  Comments Off on PVC Piping Grades – Understanding the Differences

When it comes to PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), also known as plastic pipe, there are a wide range of options depending on the application. As a contactor or even a resident that is handy, knowing the different type of piping is important. Especially if you’ve decided to make some repairs or you’re on the job and need to know what products are in front of you.

Schedule 40 (White or Clear)

Schedule 40 pvc piping is one of the most common types of piping on the market. It’s typically a white color which is standard. It can also come in unique colored applications like black and is also manufactured in clear for specific applications. Schedule 40 is rated at 140 Degrees (F) and typically comes in standard lengths of 5ft, 10ft and 20ft sections. Your typical applications include irrigation systems, around the house DIY project like soccer goals, photo stands and much more.

Schedule 80 (Gray)

Schedule 80 pvc piping is more of a commercial grade pipe. The difference between schedule 40 and schedule 80 is the color (gray vs white), Thickness (the inside diameter of schedule 80 is thicker to compensate for higher pressure ratings. Note that the temperature rating is still the same, at 140 degrees (F). Common applications for Sch 80 include water systems, treatment facilities, manufacturing plants & chemical processing.


Sch 80 CPVC piping is similar to schedule 80 pvc, but comes with increased temperature ratings. CPVC piping can handle temperatures of up to 200 Degrees (F). Note the color of the pipe is also a gray color and can sometimes be confused with regular schedule 80 pvc. Also note that CPVC has higher pressure ratings than schedule 40, but utilize the same pressure rates as schedule 80 pvc. Common applications include hot water transport like water heaters or heating systems.  CPVC is also used in processing plants where high pressure / high temperature is present.

Flexible Piping

Not to be confused with PEX, as that is another type of flexible piping, Flexible PVC comes in an off-white color and the unique benefit is the flexibility. Flexible piping should never be used for potable water (drinking water). Common applications for flexible piping include swimming pools (pumps, etc.), spas, irrigation, drainage, etc.


PEX is not technically PVC, yet can be confused as it is a plastic type of product that is flexible. PEX is made from HDPE (Polyethylene). PEX is a newer type of product that is starting to show up in residential applications in place of more traditional copper water lines. PEX is a type of piping that most contractors and even residence should be aware of. If you see typically blue or red flexible piping in your wall or in a house application, it’s more than likely PEX. There are specific types of fittings and ways to handle PEX. PEX uses push on pressure fittings in most all applications because of simplicity. What’s important to know is that push on fittings are not made to come back off. Once on, they will need to be cut and removed with new fittings added if replacement or repair is needed.


PVDF piping is unique and not found in typical applications. PVDF stands for Polyvinylidene Fluoride and is known for one of the most resistant types of piping materials available. Properties include resistance to acids & bases as well as a high resistance to abrasion. It’s also resistant to alcohols and halogenated solvents. Applications typically include laboratories and food processing where high resistance is needed. PVDF also has a very big temperature range (-40F to 285F). Think consumer food products when you think of PVDF piping.

Amanda Hill is a Director at Commercial Industrial Supply, an industrial supply company located in the Southeast U.S. that distributes product throughout the U.S. and beyond. From your standard piping to your high performance industrial piping & accessories, CIS serves contractors, industry professionals and regular consumers with industrial products.

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