Difference between PVC, CPVC, UPVC and PEX

PVC, cPVC and uPVC may seem the same because they're made from the same material called polyvinyl chloride but the difference is found during the chemical make-up during the manufacturing process.


PVC is made out of polyvinyl chloride which is why it's a strong material. Because of this rigidity, manufacturers even add aditional plasticizing polymers so it becomes more plyable. It's stronger than unplasticized PVC, which is the uPVC.

Because the PVC structure is similar to that of plastic, it must be used in conditions under 140°F because the heat will soften the material and leaks may occur. Professionals often choose to work with PVC because it's plyable and pipe sizes and measurements are not allways perfect.


uPVC does not contain any plasticizing polymers, making it a very hard material that can be as ridgid as cast iron. It must be cut perfectly because it's not flexible in the slightest so there's no room for posterior corrections.This material is not commonly used but when it is it's generally used to replace sewage lines and cast iron piping systems.


cPVC is more often used in drinking water than PVC but these two cannot be used interchangeably because cPVC is altered by a free radical chlorination process which increases the chlorine content in the material. This also allows cPVC to be used in higher temperature conditions, up to 200°F.

cPVC is commonly used for hot and cold water applications and its durability makes it often used in commercial and industrial applications.

  • PVC uses the nominal size NPS
  • cPVC uses both NPS and CTS.

All PVC types can be cut using plastic cutting hacksaw blades or power tools. They're joined using glueing compounds instead of soldering. 

PEX Tubing

PEX tubing stands for cross-linked polyethylene. This material has a high density and flexible finish and can withstand very high temperatures. It can work with multiple connection options like Shark Bite, Compression, Expansion, Crimp, Clamp and Press.

PEX is very malleable making it very easy to work with. It doesn't require any specialized tools to cut it. Flex PVC is easy to cut but can't be used for dfrinking water.

PEX is more cost effective for home plumbing. It comes in red and blue for hot and cold water, as well as a neutral line that's white. It comes in a large  spool so it can be stored easily and withstands high temperatures. It can also easily be paired with copper pipes.

PEX is becoming the standard for home and business plumbing.

For more information on the durability of PVC click here.

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