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7 Types of Plumbing Pipes Used in Homes

Home plumbing systems are some of the most confusing and intimidating for DIYers to work on, partly because there are many different types of plumbing pipes. Whether diagnosing an issue in your home, implementing a solution, or running plumbing to a new room or fixture, you must understand the different kinds of pipes and their applications.

This guide discusses the seven types of plumbing pipes you might find in or need for your home. We’ll break down each Cost, discuss the pros and cons of the different styles, and include additional information about pipe measurement and selection to help your project go as smoothly as possible.


  • Different plumbing pipes suit different applications, so you should choose the one that works for your specific purposes.
  • Not all plumbing pipe materials are up to building code in all areas, so make sure you check the legality of an option before purchasing and installing.
  • Your water quality can often influence which type of plumbing pipe suits your home, so it’s a good idea to check acidity and hardness before installing a specific material.

What Are the Different Types of Plumbing Pipes You’ll Find Around Your House?

You might find seven main types of plumbing pipes throughout your home. Identifying pipes before you begin any DIY projects and knowing which pipes are suitable for different applications are crucial. The table below includes a quick look at the seven kinds of piping you might run into, the most common application of each, and the average Cost per linear foot.

Type of Plumbing Pipe Best Used For Average Cost (estimate per linear foot) Read More
Rigid Copper Pipe Hot and cold water supply lines $2.50 – $10 Jump to section
PEX Pipe Hot and cold water supply lines $0.50 – $2 Jump to section
PVC Pipe Cold supply lines (CPVC pipe only) and drain lines $0.50 – $2 Jump to section
ABS Pipe Drain and vent lines $0.50 – $5 Jump to section
Flexi Pipe Short connections to fixtures $5 – $20 (unit cost) Jump to section
Galvanized Steel and Cast Iron Hot and cold water supply lines (outdated), drain lines and main waste lines, and vent lines (outdated) $2 – $25 Jump to section
Black Pipe Natural gas supply lines $0.50 – $3 Jump to section

1. Copper Pipe

Best for Copper pipe is best for water supply lines, and that’s typically the only application you’ll see them used for in your home. These pipes can deliver water from your water main to all of your plumbing fixtures and appliances, like your water heater and water softener.

Average Cost: Copper pipe can range from around $2.50 to $10 per linear foot, depending on the pipe walls’ thickness and the pipe’s diameter. You’ll most commonly see Type L ½-inch copper pipe behind your walls and running to your quick disconnects (speedy valves) behind your fixtures. This size pipe usually averages around $3 per linear foot.

Copper pipe is made primarily of copper, as the name suggests, so it has a shiny copper color. It’s technically a copper alloy that also contains silver and phosphorus. It has long sections for running lines behind walls and several joints for 90-degree angles, T connections, and more.

There are three types of copper pipe: L, M, and K. The different letters refer to different wall thicknesses. Type L is the most common for residential supply lines.

Long average life span: Unlike some other materials, copper pipes last for around 75 years, on average. That minimizes repairs and how often you’ll have to access the pipes behind your walls.

Low chance of contaminating drinking water: Copper can corrode over time, but there’s a relatively low risk of contamination compared to other metals and plastics.

Lightweight: Copper is super light, making it easy to transport and work with. It also often doesn’t require much bracing behind your walls.

Expensive: Copper is one of the more expensive materials to work with, averaging around three to six times the price of PEX supply lines per linear foot.

Hard to work with: DIY solutions with copper pipes are difficult. Copper is easy to cut, but making connections requires special tools and skills to “sweat” the lines. It takes some time and practice to learn how to do it properly.

Not suitable for acidic or hard water: Acidic water — like the water you’d get from a well — is likely to speed up the corrosion of copper, which can leave metals in your water, so copper is only ideal if you’re connected to a public water system. Additionally, copper is especially prone to mineral buildup, which can cause issues with water pressure and supply over time.

The video below provides a quick look at how complicated https://tapaksuci.id/ connecting copper pipes can be:

Today’s Homeowner Tips

SharkBite fittings are a common DIY solution for copper pipes, as they allow for quick connections without special tools or the need for sweating or soldering the pipes. These fittings are highly unreliable and will likely lead to severe leaks over time. We strongly recommend against using these fittings for any plumbing application.

2. PEX Pipe

Best for PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipe is a somewhat recent innovation in plumbing that is best for supply lines for hot and cold water in homes.

Average Cost: PEX piping averages around $1 per linear foot and ranges from $0.50 to $2, depending on the pipe diameter. The low cost makes it an appealing alternative to copper supply lines.

PEX pipe is flexible, making it easy to work with. The flexibility is thanks to the material it’s made of. PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene pipe material called high-density polyethylene (HDP). It’s color-coded for ease of installation — blue for cold water applications and red for hot water applications.

The pipe comes in sizes ranging from ½ inch to 1 inch. Domestic water applications typically use ½-inch or ¾-inch PEX pipe.

Easy to work with: PEX pipe is soft and doesn’t require sweating like copper pipes, so cutting it and making connections are easier than copper, making it a better pipe material for DIYers. Plus, it’s flexible, so you don’t have to deal with nearly as many connections.

Lower risk of freeze damage: PEX pipe is more flexible than copper, so it comes with a lower risk of bursting if the water inside freezes.

Affordable: PEX pipe averages around $0.50 per linear foot, which is around six times cheaper than copper. You also often need fewer connections and less piping overall, reducing installation costs.

Sometimes not up to code: Many municipalities don’t allow PEX piping in their building codes, so it might not be an option for your home, depending on local regulations.

More susceptible to pest damage: Squirrels and other rodents can chew through PEX, which could lead to plumbing leaks you might never see with more durable copper piping.

More harmful to the environment: Plastic PEX pipe is not recyclable and more damaging to the environment than copper and other metals that can be recycled.

3. PVC Pipe

Best for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is best for drain lines, while CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe can be used for cold water supply lines. In most cases, PVC pipe is used to carry greywater (domestic wastewater from showers and sinks) and blackwater (domestic wastewater from toilets) to your septic system or main sewer line. PVC pipe is also highly resistant to UV light and hot and cold temperatures, so it’s a common option for irrigation systems and pipes exposed to direct sunlight.

Average Cost: The average cost is around $1 per linear foot for one ½-inch piping — the most common option for fixture drain lines.

PVC pipe is usually white and has thick walls. PVC is a hard plastic, so it’s relatively lightweight and semi-flexible. Unlike copper, connections for PVC pipe are easy to make using a two-part PVC glue. Home supply stores like Home Depot carry long sections of PVC pipe and a wide range of connections for all applications, including P-traps, S-traps, T-joints, Y-joints, and more.

Easy to work with: PVC connections are one of the simplest in plumbing. Most homeowners can easily handle PVC plumbing jobs without experience or special tools. Plus, it’s lightweight, easy to transport, and easy to cut.

Affordable: PVC pipe averages around $1 per linear foot for residential plumbing applications, so repairs are cheap, even if you make mistakes.

Corrosion resistant: PVC pipe is highly resistant to corrosion. If CPVC is used for cold water supply lines, you won’t get any chemicals in your water, even if your water is acidic (which well water typically is).

Not suitable for hot water supply lines: PVC isn’t suitable for hot water supply lines, so it’s often skipped over altogether for supplying water, except for in-ground sprinkler systems.

Not fire resistant: PVC isn’t heat resistant and won’t stand up to high temperatures, so the pipes will quickly melt if there’s a fire in your home. Unfortunately, melting PVC also releases toxic fumes into the air.

Louder than metal pipes: Water running through plastic pipes behind your walls is often audible, which some homeowners don’t like.

4. ABS Pipe

The best for ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) pipe is for drain and vent lines in residential plumbing systems. It’s typically found under sinks and other fixtures and carries greywater or blackwater toward your main sewer line or septic system. Some electricians use ABS pipe as an insulative conduit for electrical lines, so be aware of that if you’re assessing an ABS pipe behind a wall.

Average Cost: The average cost of ABS piping is around $0.80 per linear foot, but the total can range from $0.50 to about $5, depending on the thickness of the pipe wall and the diameter. Most domestic waste lines made of ABS pipe are 1 ½ inches in diameter.

ABS pipes are black and rigid, so they look like darker PVC pipes. They are semi-flexible, but connections are required to run piping through your home. Much like PVC pipes, ABS pipes are joined using a cement glue specifically made for ABS material, so working with this option is much easier than copper piping. Long, straight runs and various connections are usually in stock at home improvement stores.

Affordable: Affordability is the main draw to ABS over PVC for drain lines. On average, ABS is around half the price of PVC per linear foot.

Easy to cut and connect: Like PVC, ABS is suitable for even inexperienced DIYers. Cutting can be done with regular saws, and connections are simple using a two-part cement glue that is highly durable and leak-free.

Shock-resistant and durable: ABS is more durable than PVC and can withstand higher impact and lower temperatures. Ultimately, that means it’s less prone to damage from freezing.

Sensitive to UV light: ABS will warp and crack if exposed to UV light, so it’s only suitable for indoor or underground applications, unlike PVC.

Contains bisphenol A (BPA): ABS pipe contains BPA, a potentially harmful chemical that is added to ABS pipe to improve durability. Unfortunately, this makes it unsafe for use as supply lines, including cold water supply, so it’s not as versatile as PVC pipe.

Louder than metal pipes: Since ABS is plastic, you’ll likely hear water draining behind your walls. This can be off-putting for some homeowners.

5. Flexi Pipe

Best for Flexi pipe, also called supply hose, is best for making short-range connections between speedy valves — often connected to copper pipes behind your walls — and fixtures, namely toilets and sink faucets. This piping is prohibitively expensive to use over long stretches. Still, the flexibility makes it ideal for connecting plumbing fixtures to roughed-in plumbing, especially for retrofits or use in tight spaces where rigid water lines aren’t realistic.

Average Cost: A flexi pipe supply hose costs around $10, but depending on the length you need, you could pay anywhere from $5 up to $20.

A Flexi pipe supply hose contains a flexible PVC hose usually enclosed within a braided steel protective layer. The connections on either end depend on the purpose of the line. In the picture above, the upper connection is made to connect to a toilet for water supply to the tank. The lower connection gets screwed onto your speedy valve. A line with two connections that look like the lower one in the picture would be for connecting a sink to a speedy valve.

Easy to install: A flexi pipe makes connecting plumbing fixtures to supply lines easy without dealing with rigid plumbing. This allows flexibility in how close your fixture is to your speedy valve. It also requires no special connecting tools, so even inexperienced DIYers can easily install and replace them.

Can handle high pressure: The PVC hose surrounded by braided metal is designed to withstand extreme pressure. It’s very rare to have one of these pipes burst, even if you have high water pressure in your area.

Expensive: On a per-linear-foot basis, this is one of the most expensive plumbing pipe options, so it’s not suitable for long runs of plumbing pipe. However, the convenience is worth the money for small applications like supplying water to fixtures.

Won’t last as long as other pipes: While the connection for a flexi pipe is simple, it does mean that it won’t last as long as a sweated copper connection or a cement-glued PVC connection, so you’ll have to replace flexi pipes every five to ten years or so.

6. Galvanized Steel or Cast Iron Pipe

Best for Galvanized steel or cast iron pipe is best for main waste lines. These pipes used to be used for supply lines, but copper has almost entirely replaced them. You’ll most commonly find these used for large waste lines running to your sewer system, septic system, cesspool, or supply lines in older homes.

Average Cost: Galvanized and cast iron pipe are quite expensive, ranging from $2 to $25 per linear foot, with an average of about $18. One reason for the high Cost is the pipe size, typically 4 or 6 inches in diameter for main waste line applications.

Cast iron and galvanized steel pipes are usually the largest in your home, ranging from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. They’re made of hard metal and typically black, but they could appear rust-colored if older. Generally, you’ll only find these running from toilets to your main waste line and used as the main waste line, which exits your home through your foundation and runs to either a public sewage system or a private waste disposal system.

Resistant to corrosion and rust: Galvanizing steel or cast iron helps these pipes resist deterioration. This contributes to a long life span, which limits expensive access and repairs.

Highly durable: Steel and cast iron pipes have a life span of up to 100 years, somewhat justifying the high up-front price tag.

Resistant to crushing: These pipes have thick walls that withstand excessive force. This makes them a great option for underground waste pipes leaving your home.

Expensive: These large metal pipes are expensive per linear foot, which is a drawback when running long lines for waste removal.

Can leach metals into water: Steel and iron will both leach metal into your water, so these options aren’t suitable for plumbing supply lines.

Somewhat difficult to work with: Steel and iron pipes are heavy and bulky. Even though the connections can be made easily, maneuvering large sections of this piping can be challenging without extra help.

7. Black Pipe

Best for: Black pipe is best for transporting natural gas into your home. It’s typical to see this type of pipe running to your gas stove, gas boiler, or other appliance that uses natural gas as a fuel source.

Average Cost: Black pipe costs between $0.50 and $3 per linear foot, with an average of around $2.50. The most common size for residential applications is ½-inch-diameter black pipe.

Black pipe is, as you might guess, black. It’s completely rigid, as it’s made from black steel. It typically has threads on either end to connect to fittings or connections, all available in most home improvement stores. Even though this piping is used for natural gas, it’s considered a plumbing pipe and requires a plumber’s license to work within most municipalities.

Fire resistant: Perhaps most importantly, black pipe is more fire resistant than other metal pipe options, including galvanized steel. This is crucial because it needs to maintain a seal on your natural gas supply in the event of a fire to prevent explosions.

Durable: Black steel is about as durable as galvanized steel, so that these lines can last for around 100 years without replacement.

Not prone to leaks: Black steel is manufactured without a seam, which means it’s less prone to leaking than just about any other metal pipe option. This makes it ideal for transporting natural gas, which can be dangerous if the supply lines leak.

Only for professionals: Since black pipe is used to transport natural gas, it’s not advisable to work with it without a plumber’s license. Issues with natural gas can be extremely dangerous, which is why most municipalities mandate a plumber’s license to work with gas lines and a pressure test on any lines for transporting gas. You should consider hiring a plumber for a black pipe installation or replacement.

Not ideal for transporting water: Steel pipe can leach metals into water, so it’s not ideal for use as a supply line. However, it can be used for domestic water distribution in areas where other options aren’t realistic or affordable, like some rural areas.

How To Correctly Measure Pipe Sizes

Regardless of the kind of plumbing pipe you’re working with, you should always make sure you measure the pipe carefully to ensure you get a proper fit. Most plumbing applications also do best with a specific pipe diameter, so pipe sizes are important even if you’re plumbing a new area in your home. We’ll detail the steps to measure your pipes below.

First, you want to measure the pipe’s total diameter, including the pipe walls’ thickness. Ideally, you’ll use calipers for an accurate reading. Place the calipers over the pipe and take a measurement using the outside forks. Alternatively, you can use a tape measure. Just make sure you take a reading across the middle of the pipe to get the true diameter.

Next, you’ll need to measure the inside diameter. You can do this using the inside forks of your caliper or a tape measure. If you use the latter, just be sure you measure across the center and only measure from the inside wall to the inside wall.

Your last step will be to calculate the thickness of the pipe wall. You can subtract the inside diameter from the outside diameter and then divide by two to get the material thickness.

Finally, you can use your measurements to choose your pipe. You can either measure the new pipe or just buy one that matches the outside diameter and material thickness.


6 Different Types of Home Plumbing Pipes and How to Choose One

Several types of home plumbing pipes are used to carry water to and away from fixtures and appliances. Whether you’re hiring a plumber or taking on a DIY home plumbing project, the experience can be confusing because of all the pipe material options.

What is the right pipe for water supply, drainage, and sewer, for both interior and exterior? This guide breaks down common plumbing pipe materials such as PEX, copper, and ABS, to help you choose which is best for your space and application.

  • PEX Pipe

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is a durable plastic piping that’s used to supply water. It is rigid enough to withstand the pressures of water supply but flexible enough to weave throughout walls, ceilings, basements, and crawlspaces. It is also far less expensive compared to many other piping materials.

    PEX pipes commonly come in 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch diameters, but they can be found in diameters up to 3 inches. PEX pipes are easy to cut and join. Plus, they’re typically color-coded red for hot water and blue for cold water.

    Use for: Use PEX pipe as hot and cold water distribution lines within the house. PEX is also used to cycle reclaimed water; this pipe is marked purple to identify the type of water and distinguish it from potable water. Also use PEX for hydronic piping and distribution, such as for radiators.


    Check your local codes before installing PEX pipe. While it is commonly used across the United States, it is not permitted everywhere. It must be well supported, and the fittings must be installed properly and tested, especially when installed behind walls.

  • PVC Pipe

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is a white plastic pipe material that’s commonly used for waste lines. It initially gained popularity because it was lighter and easier to work with than traditional galvanized steel pipe. It’s also inexpensive and fairly durable.

    PVC pipe is moderately easy to install and requires little more than a hacksaw and a miter box to cut. It glues together with solvents.

    Use for: PVC pipe and fittings are not rated for highly pressurized applications. Since building codes limit PVC pipe to drain, waste, and vent (DWV) applications, use PVC pipe for drainage and vent lines within the house. PVC pipe is commonly used for below-ground exterior irrigation water supply.


    Like PEX pipe, PVC pipe is not permitted everywhere. So check your local regulations before installing.

    Best Ways to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe

  • Rigid Copper Pipe

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Copper pipes are primarily pure copper as evidenced by their shiny reddish-brown appearance. Rigid copper is often used for water supply lines within the home. It is valued because it does not come with health risks unlike other pipe materials, such as plastics, that can leach chemicals.1

    Rigid copper also is quite durable, and it can be cut easily with a tubing cutter or hacksaw. However, it is fairly expensive.

    Use for: Rigid copper pipe is routinely used for sinks, showers, tubs, and other fixtures. Though termed “rigid,” rigid copper pipe can be bent to some degree. Inserting a spring in the pipe, filling it with sand or salt, or using a special tool are three ways to safely bend copper pipe.


    Among the multiple options for connections, the best is the solder-type connection. The solder connection requires experience coupled with safety protocols.

  • ABS Pipe

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) pipe is made of a thermoplastic resin and looks very much like PVC pipe except it is black and slightly softer. It’s mainly used as a vent and drain line.

    This pipe is fairly durable, though sun exposure can warp and degrade it, and it’s a cost-effective choice. But like PVC, it isn’t accepted by building codes everywhere, so check your local regulations.

    Use for: Use ABS pipe for both indoor or outdoor plumbing, but when it is used indoors restrict the pipe to drain, waste, and vent (DWV) applications.

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  • Flexi Pipe or Braided Pipe

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Flexible pipe, often called flexi for short or braided pipe, is flexible tubing typically made of stainless steel. It’s commonly used for final piping connections to appliances, such as water heaters, toilets, and sinks. It’s generally not permitted for use inside walls or floors.

    Flexi pipe comes in many lengths and sizes. It’s somewhat durable, though it’s not uncommon for it to fail after years of wear and tear. It also is expensive, though you typically don’t need much of it for a project.

    Use for: Use flexible or braided pipe in exposed areas to connect water heaters, toilets, and sinks.


    Do not use flexible pipe in enclosed applications, such as inside walls or floors.

  • Galvanized Steel Pipe and Cast Iron

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Two additional types of pipe are sometimes found in older homes and are infrequently installed, especially by DIYers: galvanized steel and cast iron pipe.

    Galvanized steel is rigid, corrosion-resistant steel piping that was used for decades for drainage, water supply, gas supply, and several other purposes. While galvanized steel pipe is still around (particularly for gas supply), it is far less common and not used for water supply in new construction or remodel projects. While it has good durability, it’s also pricey to install. Each end of the pipe is threaded, and individual pipes are screwed into each other with connecting fittings.

    Cast iron is rigid, dark gray piping that was often used for sewer and other drainage purposes. It is still found in many homes and is used today in some commercial and high-rise building applications. Cast iron is expensive but durable with good longevity. It’s viable until the point that it rusts completely through. It’s also very heavy and difficult to cut. Retrofits tend to replace cast iron pipes with rigid plastic pipes, such as ABS.

    Use for: Use galvanized steel pipe for water supply lines, drain, and vent lines. For most homeowners, galvanized pipe will mainly be found in the form of gas supply lines. Though once commonly used for sinks, showers, tubs, and other fixtures, galvanized pipe still can be used in this manner, if local plumbing codes permit.

Choosing Plumbing Pipes

When choosing the right pipe for your plumbing job, the most important factors to consider are both the function the pipe needs to perform as well as the layout of the space you’re working with. For instance, you might need a more flexible pipe for tight areas.

Cost also will be a factor in your decision. In general, a perk of more expensive piping is it tends to last longer. So ultimately you might save money in the long run. Plus, you’ll have to know your local building codes to make sure you’re using a permitted type of piping.

Speaking with a contractor or other plumbing expert can help you make an informed decision for your project. Sometimes you might not know exactly what you’ll need until walls come down and you see the space you’re working with.


  • What is the most common pipe used in houses?

    Copper and PEX are the most common pipe materials used in homes. Copper pipes are durable, corrosion-resistant, and can be used for hot and cold water. PEX seems to be replacing copper pipes at a high rate since it is less expensive, more flexible, and easier to install.

  • What are the different types of water plumbing systems in a home?

    Plumbing piping is used for three primary reasons: toilet sewage, stormwater drainage, and drinking water. In each case, these systems bring and remove water into and from the home.

  • What is the safest type of pipe for drinking water?

    According to the Environmental Working Group, copper pipes with lead-free joint materials are the best choice for water pipes. They are long-lasting and won’t leach chemicals into your drinking water. The group also cites polypropylene (PEX) pipes as a suitable alternative to copper that is less likely to leach chemicals into the water than other types of plastic piping.2