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PEX vs. PVC vs. Copper: What You Should Know

Posted on 31 October 2023
PEX vs. PVC vs. Copper: What You Should Know

Today you’ll find most pipes are made of PEX or PVC plastic, but copper also still maintains some popularity, albeit a more expensive choice. Which is best for you? 


PEX refers to “crosslinked polyethylene,” a type of piping that has been around for approximately four decades. The material is created by melting a type of high-density polyethylene and then extruding it in tube form.

PEX is very easy to install, even more so than PVC, thanks in large part to its flexibility. Because PEX can bend so well, it can more easily accommodate changes in direction without there needing to be extra connections added. With fewer connections comes a lower risk of plumbing leaks. When connections are used, they feature cold expansion rings or crimp fittings rather than glue, which could potentially leach into the water.

Despite being a light and flexible material, PEX is still compatible with metal, more so than PVC. It is also more freeze-resistant and quiet—you won’t hear loud plumbing noises from water hammer through PEX.

The downside is that PEX is more expensive than PVC, though it is less labor-intensive to install, and there is a higher contamination risk of the water. Finally, PEX cannot hold up to ultraviolet light exposure, so you cannot use it above ground outdoors.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping has been broadly used for household plumbing and drainage for years. It lasts 50 to 70 years, longer than what you’d expect out of PEX, and comes at a lower cost. It’s safe to use outdoors, even in above-ground settings and is known for its environmental friendliness. 

There are, however, some temperature limitations with PVC. It cannot be used in extreme heat; you would need CPVC piping in such settings. It also doesn’t have the same flexibility as PEX and could come with a higher leak risk as a result of the greater need for connections.


Copper pipes continue to be widely used in residential settings. They have outstanding strength, are capable of handling high temperatures and can be used in outdoor environments.

On the downside, copper pipes can develop small holes and are susceptible to corrosion. Plus, it’s harder to find expert plumbers that are using copper which can make it harder to find someone to get the job done for you.

For more information about what pipes to use , contact us at PipeMasters: info@pipemasters.ca or (289) 404-9063. PipeMasters is part of Oakridge Plumbing Ontario Ltd. and serves the East GTA, Durham Region, North to Lindsay & Peterborough, out to Cobourg and all points in between. All Rights Reserved.

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