Is PEX Better To Use Than PVC?
PEX and PVC are solid choices for plumbing. Buying and applying either one will create a functional system, however, there’ll be certain aspects that one is better at than the other.
Today, we will separate these two materials and explain which is better at what. This way you will know what piping is best for your project.
What Is PEX?
PEX tubing is the shortened name for Cross-Linked Polyethylene. This means the material is flexible, making it perfect for fiddly jobs which need to wrap around rigid shapes.
One of the best things about PEX is its ability to spring back to its original shape. However, if this flexibility is still too wobbly for your project, you can always tape it to a stick to create stability.
What Is PVC?
PVC is shorthand for Polyvinyl Chloride. It’s a sturdy material that cannot bend and is very brittle. This means that your piping won’t flop around as you try to place it (like the PEX does), however, if you drop it, the material is more likely to break.
PVC is one of the oldest plastic materials, being invented in 1872. Despite its brittle nature, this plastic is very commonly used in construction. It is extremely resistant to environmental degradation and can be easily recycled, which means it should last for years if you don’t drop something heavy on it. When you’re done, you can ethically remove the plastic.
Which Is Better In The Cold Or Heat?
Depending on your project, hot and cold temperatures may be a big part of your plans. Getting the wrong material could ruin your mechanic, wasting time and money.
The best piping to deal with cold and hot water is PEX. It can handle the heat without melting and can retain the temperature as it travels through the pipes. This will reduce the cost of heating water, and keep your piping secure. It is also great in cold temperatures, as PEX isn’t known for bursting due to frozen water in pipes.
PVC pipes are not great with hot water. You shouldn’t use it as a pipe for drinking water either, as the plastic chemicals that hold it together can wear into the water.
Although PVC piping isn’t susceptible to cracks through freezing, the lack of flexibility means you will need connections to get the pipe where you need it to go. With more breaks in the pipework, water has more places to sit. This means frozen water has more leverage to break your pipework.
All in all, PEX piping is best for hot and cold temperatures.
Which Is Cheapest?
As with everything, the better quality you get the more expensive it will be. Comparing a basic PVC against a double-durable PEX will always make the PVC the cheapest. To make this comparison fair, we will be comparing durability and average price to create the most realistic answer.
Generally speaking, PVC is the cheapest to buy outright. Even the cheapest PEX will be the same price as the most expensive PVC. In this instance, PVC wins, but now to look at longevity.
PEX pipes can last as long as 50 years. PVC (when kept in the correct conditions) can last for 70 years. However, CPVC (which is copper lined and therefore more durable than PVC) will need to be replaced every 20 years.
This means that cheap PVC lasts the longest, but durable PEX lasts longer than the strongest PVC.
Another point to consider is its life after usage. PVC can be recycled no matter the quality, and PEX cannot be recycled. This means that PVC has a longer lifespan again, as it can be reshaped to help another household.
In this round, PVC wins as the cheapest upfront and over time.
So, Which Is Better – PEX Or PVC?
The answer to this question is entirely based on your project and needs. If you aren’t dealing with boiling or freezing water, and don’t expect to use a lot of connections, then the answer has to be PVC.
PVC is the cheapest option, the easiest to recycle, and doesn’t need to be replaced for 70 years.
However, if the plumbing is for hot water, cold water, or drinking water, then you need to use the piping that can handle the temperature – PEX. This piping is also malleable which means you can move around your property easily.