ABS, PVC, PEX or Copper? Which is Better for your Home?

Most people might not even think about them, but the choice of plumbing materials that you use for your home matter, quite a lot actually. Currently, the most popular choices when it comes to plumbing are ABS and PVC plastic pipes for drainage material and PEX or copper for water distribution piping. Now, if you are thinking of giving your kitchen or bathroom a remodel and you are considering replacing the old plumbing with new pipes, which one of these is your best choice and why?

ABS Pipes

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene, which is a thermoplastic resin. These pipes were originally developed to be used in the oil fields and chemical industry in the early 50s. The strength and durability of this material were proven when a popular Arizona builder, John F. Long, used ABS pipes for an experimental residence. After 25 years, a team of independent researchers dug up a section of the plumbing and analyzed it, and they found no trace of rust, rot, or any kind of corrosion whatsoever. ABS piping is for drain piping only and is not used for potable drinking water. Whenever a house is found to have cast iron from the ’50-’60s any repairs are typically replaced with ABS piping

Pros and Cons of ABS


  • Easier to install compared to metal pipes
  • Less expensive
  • Superior flow rate thanks to the smooth interior
  • Does not erode like steel metallic piping such as cast iron


  • Cannot be used outside as exposed piping
  • May bow or sag if not installed properly
  • Drain waste and vent use only

 PVC Pipes

PVC, or Poly-Vinyl Chloride pipes have been in use far longer than ABS pipes. In fact, the first city-wide implementation of PVC pipes for drinking water and sewer pipes was from 1936 to 1939 in Central Germany. Amazingly, most of the original plumbing used back then (minus the ones that were damaged during World War II) are still being used today. In retrospect, the manufacturing process used for making PVC piping back then was still crude, but they still managed to produce tough and resilient pipes. These days, the use of PVC piping has made way

It way into several industries such as irrigation/water distribution/drain and vent piping. Schedule 40 PVC is the rating required under most code requirements

Pros and Cons of PVC


  • Multi-use allowances
  • No rust / metal deterioration


  • Cannot be used as exposed piping on the exterior for water distribution
  • Stress cracks over time / professional installation required to ensure proper bonding


Copper Pipes

Copper pipes began gaining popularity after World War II. Before, lead was the most popular choice for plumbing materials, mainly because it was easy to bend, and seal and was relatively cheap. However, when the dangers of lead poisoning came to light, households started using copper plumbing instead. Because it is also a metal, it was much easier for older households to transition to using copper rather than plastic plumbing since the fittings were relatively the same.

Pros and Cons of Copper Pipes


  • The ductility of copper allows it to be shaped into different angles, removing the need for elbow joints
  • Can withstand huge amounts of pressure, exponentially more than the normal working pressure of household plumbing
  • Copper pipes are quite aesthetically pleasing so you can leave them exposed if you want and are also allowed as exterior and underground buried installation


  • Expensive
  • Labor-intensive installation and repairs
  • It May leave a slight metallic aftertaste in drinking water (it is just the taste that is affected, copper is still non-toxic)
  • Hard water can cause accelerated rapid deterioration


PEX Piping

PEX tubing is made from crosslinked HDPE (high-density polyethylene) polymer. The HDPE is melted and continuously extruded into the tube. The crosslinking of the HDPE is accomplished in one of three different methods.

PEX plumbing has been in use in Europe since about 1970 and was introduced in the U.S. around 1980. The use of PEX has been increasing ever since, replacing a copper pipe in many applications, especially radiant heating systems installed in the slab under floors or walkways. Interest in PEX for hot and cold water plumbing has increased recently in the United States.

Pex material is the most widely used piping today for new residential construction – since it was introduced over 30 years ago it has become the largest supplier of water distribution piping.

The styrene rubber material makes it very flexible for ease of installation and the ability to handle hot and cold distribution as well as high water pressures.

EX (or crosslinked polyethylene) is part of a water supply piping system that has several advantages over metal pipe (copper, iron, lead) or rigid plastic pipe (PVC, CPVC, ABS) systems. It is flexible, resistant to scale and chlorine, doesn’t corrode or develop pinholes, is faster to install than metal or rigid plastic, and has fewer connections and fittings.

Pros and Cons of Pex Piping


  • Easier to install compared to metal pipes
  • Less expensive
  • Superior flow rate thanks to the smooth interior
  • Does not erode like steel metallic piping such as cast iron


  • Cannot be used outside as exposed piping
  • Requires professional installation or warranty is voided


Which One Should You Choose?

Talk to a licensed professional to discuss your project and or application as all the above piping materials has a place at the different phases of a home or building.

Diamondback Plumbing Tech Van Plumber Rescue

Diamondback Plumbing has been serving Arizona for over 22 years and has a team of skilled and experienced plumbers who are trained to deal with various kinds of plumbing issues. The main reason for our longevity and success is return customers – we have built an outstanding reputation and have become well known in the valley of the sun and throughout Arizona. Our customers have the comfort of knowing Diamondback Plumbing will provide a warranty on all our plumbing work provided and we stand behind our quality workmanship.

Service Request

24 hour emergency service

Military, Fire, Police & Seniors
10% Discount

Discount applies to billable labor only. Work order must be less than $500.00 to be eligible. Cannot be combined with other discounts or proposed signed contract projects.

Service Area

Diamondback Plumbing is dedicated to providing exceptional plumbing services to a vast region beyond Phoenix. Whether you’re based in Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, or any of the surrounding locations, our seasoned professionals stand ready to meet your residential or commercial needs.

Schedule Service