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ABS vs PVC

Follow our expert advice for choosing between ABS and PVC drainpipe. You have to consider your local plumbing codes, material availability, ease of use and other factors.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

ABS vs PVC

Follow our expert advice for choosing between ABS and PVC drainpipe. You have to consider your local plumbing codes, material availability, ease of use and other factors.

Which is better – ABS or PVC plastic pipe?

When it comes to longevity, there isn’t any reason to choose one over the other. If you install them right, either black or white plastic pipe will remain in service a lot longer than you will.

So how do you choose? First, check with your building inspector. A few local building codes allow only PVC (white) or only ABS (black). That doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t matter; comply or else.

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 it stocks a much wider selection of fittings for one of the types. A big selection makes your plumbing life easier.

If code and selection turn out to be nonfactors, go with ABS, which is a little easier to work with. Unlike PVC, which requires purple primer and cement, ABS is joined with cement only. ABS is also easier to cut and a bit more flexible.

If, for any reason, you need to join one to the other during a remodeling project, don’t just cement the two together. Instead, use a rubber transition coupling with stainless steel clamps.

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