HDPE VS PVC Pipe | The Complete Guide

Hello People. Today I’m going to share a fantastic guide on HDPE vs PVC. Without any further ado, let’s begin.


PVC is a vinyl polymer and HDPE, on the other hand, is a polymer made from petroleum. PVC pipes are used more n residential applications, whereas HDPE pipes are used more in industrial applications. PVC pipes are superior in joining and HDPE pipes are more durable when exposed to different events like rain, stress, and wind.

When it comes to piping projects, many questions come to our minds. It’s a confusing topic in general, and it’s justified to be confused and not know what to do next. There is no shortage of debates justifying the usage of one type of pipe over the other. However, focusing on HDPE pipes and PVC pipes, we’ll try to understand which pipe suits your application the best.

PVC VS HDPE: Common Characteristics 

  • Lightweight
  • Corrosion Resistant
  • Higher life expectancy than pipes made from Steel, Copper, and iron
  • Resistant to bacteriological and chemical buildup


In terms of durability, both plastics perform well. PVC is a vinyl polymer wheres, and HDPE is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. Both fare pretty well in high temperatures. When comparing failure rates when exposed to situations like stress, rain, wind, heat, or cold, HDPE stands out. PVC pipes have a rating of one in 48,650 events; HDPE one in 10,000,000 events. However, PVC pipes are more advisable for one-time projects.


When joining or connecting, a PVC gasket or glue must be used. HDPE must be joined with heat fusion. But, HDPE pipes are capable of resisting more shock waves than PVC pipes. Interestingly, PVC can be joined underwater, but the same can’t be said about HDPE.

When covering fiber build, HDPE works amazingly well for a few reasons:

  • HDPE can handle low-temperature impact-season stress (heat and cold).
  • HDPE pipes have an average lifespan of 2 years under sunlight or UV rays, whereas PVC pipes will only last for three years in the same condition.
  • HDPE is more resistant to sand, salt, dust, and corrosive materials.

Interesting Read – PEX Vs PVC | The Definitive Guide

PVC VS HDPE: Thermal Performance 

Consistent exposure to hot and cold weather slows the expansion of pipe connections and fittings. HDPE pipes expand four times more than PVC pipes.


HDPE can be installed using four different methods

  • Open trench
  • Drop burial
  • Directional bore
  • Horizontal bore

PVC can be installed in two ways

  • Open trench
  • Drop burial


PVC pipes are stronger and stiffer, making them easily joinable to valves and other mechanical fittings. A major drawback is potential water leakage through these joints.

The more squishy and bendable HDPE pipes have leak-free joints that prevent water leakage.

Use in Irrigation 

For irrigation purposes, PVC pipes are a more common choice. However, people prefer using HDPE pipes when digging is hard or impossible for irrigation systems. For golf course irrigation systems, HDPE pipes are the most dependable choice.


The most common application for PVC pipes is water piping at homes. These are used for drains, sewers, irrigation, and industrial purposes.

HDPE has more extensive uses – for distributing natural gas, chemicals, and petroleum products. These are also used water, sanitary, and storm sewer systems.

HDPE VS PVC Pipe: Which One Is Better 

HDPE is a better option when looking for a pipe working with lower pressure. HDPE pipes are more bendable and have a tight bending radius. However, HDPE is a good choice for both pressure and non-pressure applications. HDPE is known for its chemical stability, flexibility, and high strength-to-density ratio. As discussed above, it offers a leak-free system via heat fusion joints.

On the other hand, PVC is also strong and stiff; it is more compatible with direct burial and trenchless applications. PVC is allowed to join with mechanical joints and valves, creating a problem of background leakage. Meaning that water leaks out from the joints. It is estimated that 14% of drinking water is lost daily in the United States because of joint leaks in the pipes.

Fascinating Read – ABS Vs PVC | The Complete Guide

Why Your Plumbing Might Need to be Replaced?

We often do not notice anything about our plumbing until we see a leak or something else drawing attention to it. At this point, you have to think about the pipes and pay from your wallet for the water damage. This is when you should replace your pipes before they get old, leaky, and void, paying more in the future.

When moving to a new home, you should try to learn a thing or two about plumbing. You should learn what kind of pipes are stationed there and how they were installed. Knowing this information will give an idea of their life expectancy. It’s tricky and not easy, but it’s worth all the hassle as it lets you act before something goes haywire with your pipes.

Replacing the old pipes has two benefits – The new pipes installed will make the water flow faster since the old ones contain build-up. Secondly, clearing out the build-up will make your water safer and tastier to drink, and when you’re selling your home, it will boost your selling price.


Below are the frequently asked questions for PVC vs HDPE. Lets dig deep to know more.

How deep can you bury HDPE pipe?

As per industry standards, HDPE pipes with DRs ranging from 7.3 to 21 can be safely buried from a depth of 2 ft to 25 ft where no traffic load is present and from 3 ft to 25 ft where H20 live load is present.

Is HDPE pipes cheaper than PVC pipes? 

Ans. Regarding cost differences specifically for irrigation applications, HDPE and PVC pipe costing can significantly differ depending on the materials used. Usually, HDPE laterals are 25% more expensive than PVC laterals. That creates a cost overrun of about 2-3 % of overall supply and installation. 2-3 % might not sound significant, but when a developer is budgeting all expenses, it makes more sense to go with PVC laterals (only if saving cost is a priority)

How much weight can PVC pipe hold?

Most PVC pipes can hold at least 28 pounds of weight before they start bending. However, sometimes longer PVC pipes begin to bend under their weight. A rule of thumb is never to use PVC pipes to hold larger quantities of weight, especially if you don’t want them to become stiff.

Which is the best glue for PVC?

Unlike PVC, PEX pipes do not need glue or cement for joining. Instead, they can be combined with push-to-connect fittings, metal inserts, or plastic insert fittings for a watertight seal.

Which is the best glue for HDPE pipes?

The best glue for use on HDPE pipes is Pro-Poly, which is a high-strength adhesive for coupling HDPE pipes using standard PVC couplings, HDPE couplings, and other non-standard materials. Pro-Poly is also used for bonding polypropylene, LDPE, ABS, polycarbonate, Nylon, fiberglass, steel, and aluminum.

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The Takeaway

That’s all I had to say about HDPE vs PVC pipes. I’ve mentioned every requirement to empower and make a suitable choice between the two. Make a wise choice so there wouldn’t be any problem later, and always consult actively with your plumber about everything. The plumber can help you with all your queries face to face, which is the best way of getting any advice.

Kindly share your thoughts and reviews in the comment section.

Have a wonderful day.

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