PVC pipe vs. ABS pipe: How do you choose?

Pipes
Ask a bunch of plumbers which is better and you probably won’t get an answer, just an argument. Some say PVC is best for long-term, leak-free drain lines because it’s stronger. Others say ABS is actually more durable because it’s less brittle and less likely to crack. Most agree that ABS installs faster, because it doesn’t require the purple primer. But some say PVC is easier to work with because it’s stiff and stays straight. Search the Web for clear answers and you’ll only become more confused.

 

So how do you choose? There are two factors that matter more than all the others combined:

 

First, check with your building inspector. Some local codes allow only PVC or only ABS. That doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t matter. Just follow the code.

 

If code allows both PVC and ABS, make a pass through the plumbing aisle at your favorite home center. Even if the store carries both PVC and ABS, you’ll probably find that one material offers a much wider selection of fittings. A broad selection will save you lots of headaches later.

 

— Gary Wentz, Senior Editor

 

Related articles from The Family Handyman:

- How to connect PVC pipe to ABS pipe

- How to glue and join plastic pipe

- Plumbing with PEX tubing

- How to use CPVC plastic pipe