ABS Pipes vs. PVC Pipes – What’s the DifferenceThe two most common types of plastic pipes are ABS and PVC piping. What’s the difference, and which is better? Plastic pipes are preferred for home plumbing projects, especially when replacing old metal or cast iron pipes. They’re cheap, lightweight, and won’t corrode like metal or iron pipes. You also don’t have to worry about collecting condensation when cold water is flowing as you do with metal pipes. And when you’re running the hot water, plastic pipes keep it hot without affecting the piping.

ABS vs. PVC Pipes

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes are the go-to solutions for plumbers. They both have similar costs, but some fundamental differences between the two types of plastic pipes may help you decide.

Color and Composition

It’s easy to tell ABS pipes from PVC pipes. ABS pipes are black, while PVC pipes are white. They’re both made of plastic, but one key difference is that they make ABS pipes with BPA, or Bisphenol-A.

Many plastic manufacturers use BPA, especially to make food and water containers. Although there is no hard evidence that BPA is a risk to humans, some studies suggest it could cause potential hormonal or neurological effects with long-term usage.

Suppose your plumbing project includes your family’s drinking water. In that case, you may want to consider the potential effects using ABS pipes could cause.

Flexibility and Strength

When comparing ABS vs. PVC pipes, PVC is more flexible than ABS. However, ABS is a more robust material and is more resistant to shocks and impacts than PVC. If you have exposed pipes to replace, PVC may be better at soundproofing the water running through the pipes than ABS.


ABS stands up to cold climates and temperatures better than PVC, but can warp if left in direct sunlight. Consider the temperature and element exposure when determining which type of plastic pipe to use in your home plumbing project.


While installing ABS pipes is a one-step process, PVC piping requires an additional step. Both require special cement to bond one pipe to another. You must use a special purple primer when installing PVC pipes before cement application. The primer must dry completely before you can apply the cement and attach the pipe to the next PVC pipe.

Suppose you’re paying someone to complete your plumbing project. In that case, this additional labor time can increase the overall cost of your project, making ABS the most cost-effective solution.

When Should I Use ABS vs. PVC Pipes?

We can use both types of pipes for residential and commercial plumbing projects. Because of its ability to withstand cold temperatures, ABS pipes are ideal for underground applications, as long as they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight. With its soundproofing abilities, PVC is typically the preferred piping for indoor plumbing projects. You can use both for insulating electrical cables and drain, vent, and waste piping projects.

Hiring the Pros

Still not sure which pipes to use for your home project? Have a project you’d rather leave to the pros?

Call us at Abend Plumbing & Heating in Baltimore, MD. Our licensed plumbers are ready to help answer your questions and complete your next plumbing project.