Five types of plumbing pipe

2 min read

A competent DIYer should be able to repair most basic water leaks in the home. This guide aims to help you to understand the different types and applications of plumbing pipes and fittings that are available to you.Copper

Copper pipe is the traditional choice for domestic water lines. It is very robust and can withstand very high temperatures. It is available in three sizes and the pipes can be joined by soldering or with push-fit copper pipe fittings, such as those supplied by specialists like

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Plastic pipe is more flexible than copper so can be easier for a DIYer to work with, as it can be bent to accommodate minor changes in direction. Special 90° elbow joint fittings are available where a tight turn is required that would otherwise compromise the effectiveness of the pipe.


Cross-linked high-density polyethylene (PEX) is a strong, flexible plastic plumbing pipe that is resistant to acidic water conditions. This material is prone to expansion and contraction to cope with changes in environmental conditions so this must be accommodated for when plumbing in your water system.

Ductile iron

Malleable iron pipe is typically reserved for industrial settings and is rarely seen in a domestic environment. It is commonly used to circulate gas and compressed air and prior to the wholesale adoption of plastic pipework, was regularly used for underground water mains.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel was used as a replacement for copper in the 1970s. However, its rigidity means that it is hard for a DIYer to work with, so it is typically only used by professionals for jobs where the plumbing is exposed and the homeowner wishes for it to look visually attractive.

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In conclusion

If your existing pipework is copper, you may prefer to replace like for like by selecting the same length and width of piping and changing the fittings to guard against leaks. However, if you are replacing a full system, you may wish to opt for more modern PVC or PEX pipework. For a complex job, we recommend engaging the services of a qualified plumber.

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