plumbing pipes

The Different Types of Plumbing Pipes Used In Commercial Buildings

A plumbing issue can shut down a commercial building instantly, from a heavy leak to nonfunctioning bathrooms. As a result, these buildings need to place a far greater emphasis on maintaining their plumbing pipes than residential ones. It’s not enough to just have a plumber you can call when something breaks, you want to invest in a regular upkeep plan to catch issues before they happen. 

One issue that can lead to several others down the line is having the wrong plumbing pipes in the wrong area. A bad fit in terms of materials or types can result in you experiencing leaks or corrosion faster than usual. Another potential fit is paying more than is required in terms of materials, which can present a big cost across a whole commercial building. So, whether you plan on leaving plumbing pipes exposed or obscuring them in your commercial buildings, here are some of the different options available on the table. 


Brass is one of the most popular options for those who want a plumbing setup with a long lifespan. However, you want to make sure that the alloy in place has 85% copper in order to get max durability. Under these circumstances, you don’t have to worry about interior rust or friction loss. Compared to steel piping, it’s also easier to thread and manipulate brass. Commercial settings tend to use this in areas like water tanks, wells, and other hot-water distribution systems.

Cast-iron Plumbing Pipes

Because these are the heaviest of all plumbing pipes, their usage is restricted. Where they are viable, though, they are common. This generally entails water distribution systems in commercial settings, as well as sewer lines. On top of the weight, cast-iron piping is specifically designed to handle heavy pressure as well as deliver large amounts of liquid. These are also fire-resistant and have natural soundproofing qualities.

Stainless Steel

When it comes to plumbing pipes types for commercial use, chances are you aren’t going to see this one be the first one used. This is largely due to the price involved. Stainless steel is among the most expensive plumbing pipe types out there. However, for certain applications, it’s well worth the price. This includes settings where corrosion presents a major issue, like exposure to seawater. In addition, stainless steel is stronger than most other types of piping.


Copper is similar to stainless steel in that its price tag means you’re likely not going to be using it for an entire plumbing system. However, it also brings great durability and corrosion resistance to the table. Another item in the favor of copper piping over other options is versatility. This makes it suitable to manage both hot and cold water, even in high-pressure situations. As a result, it’s a common favorite for plumbing underground as well as handling refrigerants.


Finally, let’s take a look at plastic plumbing pipes. These various options are easier and easier to attain as the technology/materials are more readily available. In addition, being a relatively new option, they offer some unique functionality. Using cross-linked PEX piping is a good example. Because it can tolerate heat and cold well, it’s well suited for use in the water supply system. In addition, these are also easy to bend around different obstacles. This combination makes it well-suited for use outdoors.


Compared to PEX piping, PVC piping doesn’t handle heat or UV rays nearly as well. This means it’s limited to either indoor/drainage use. In addition, these aren’t nearly as flexible, requiring fittings if the piping needs to turn. The main reason to use PVC piping is that it’s far less expensive than a lot of the other options on this list. Just beware if it will be exposed to freezing temperatures, as it will split, leading to a potential massive leak and water damage. 


This is a variant of PVC piping that includes added chlorine, which makes it a safe fit for drinking water. It also has a few benefits over PVC piping, including being more flexible and easy to work with. Anyone who wants to do DIY plumbing will likely want to start with CPVC piping, although DIY plumbing in general is not recommended. However, like PVC piping, in freezing conditions, the piping will split. You can’t recycle old piping after removing it from your building as well.

plumbing pipes
Photo By visivastudio

So, with all these points in mind, what will your clients be basing their decisions on? Chances are that cost is what’s going to impact their decisions before anything else, but you want to be a smart provider and recommend solutions that will save them time, money, and frustration in the long-term as well as short-term savings. Here’s a rapid-fire list of things that your clients should be considering before settling on a final decision:

  • -Pressure 
  • -Temperature
  • -Corrosion chance
  • -Exposure to UV rays
  • -Flexibility
  • -Purpose. A piping set used for waste is going to have different material needs than one for drinking water.
plumbing pipes
Photo By Virrage Images

When we talk about different types of plumbing pipes and connectors, each has a different investment that you need to make as a plumbing contractor. This represents more money you have to invest in new equipment in order to install these plumbing pipes and connectors, as well as some jobs potentially taking more time than others. When you service commercial buildings, you expect larger undertakings for a larger result, but you want to make sure that you have a full concept of what that undertaking will be.

This is best accomplished with project management software like eSub. We give you all the information you need to understand how much a given job is going to cost you in terms of money and time. This way, when you put in bids for commercial projects, you can fully understand how to accommodate one type of plumbing piping in terms of cost.

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