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A Simple Guide to PVC & ABS for Commercial and Business Purposes


Intro to industrial plastics


When choosing an industry grade plastic for piping needs, there is quite an extensive range of plastics to choose from. Every single variant has its own unique capabilities and limitations which are ideal for certain purposes in industry. From cheap to expensive, the choices are only limited to each type’s specifications and to the needs of the individual who is to apply them. Plastic pipes are most often used for transporting clean water one way and guiding wastewater another.


Two of the most commonly found industrial plastics are PVC and ABS. ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. Both types are popular choices due to their availability, prices, as well as for their properties as being non-toxic and their resistance to abrasion and corrosion, as well as their resistance to most acids, alkalis, and salts. Furthermore, they both can be applied above and below ground. Most people know PVC or ABS simply as “pipes”, but surprisingly they are also used in a wide range of other industry grade products.




PVC has a wide range of applications. It is extremely durable and flexible at a low price. It is commonly known to be used for pipes, however it is also used for other applications such as:


  • Instruments
  • Toys (and Legos)
  • Appliances
  • Luggage
  • Protective head gear
  • Canoes
  • Golf club heads
  • Colourant

PVC pipes are a little bit more challenging to install over ABS as they need a specialised primer before being glued together. Afterwards, the joints have to be held together at a firm position for about 10 to 15 seconds for the glue to settle in. PVC pipes are generally softer than ABS which can make them ideal in some situations and is generally resistant to sunlight which avoids it from being deformed or cracked.




Similarly like PVC, ABS is used for pipes and is famously known as “the black pipe”. It is used for a very wide range of utilities such as:

ABS is strong, rigid, and very cheap. In construction, ABS is commonly used in drainage and sewer systems, as well as for electrical insulation. ABS is much easier to install over PVC pipes as the parts generally fit together without much effort. However, if ABS is exposed to direct sunlight when used above ground, there is a greater chance for it to deform and possibly crack. For this reason, ABS pipes are usually coated with specialised latex paint to act as a layer of protection towards ultraviolet rays.




Both types of plastic pipes share a common weakness towards chlorinated hydrocarbons which can deform or crack the pipe’s wall. Although they are both relatively cheap, many have opted for PVC over ABS but this is a subject of personal preference. ABS is much stronger than PVC as it can withstand impact at lower temperatures but deforms under sunlight if no paint is applied. On the other hand, PVC is not as sturdy but is more flexible and softer which can make it ideal in case specific circumstances.


Both types of pipes work well in many applications, but before purchasing one of the two, careful consideration should be taken towards the environmental aspects of where these pipes will be applied. There is nothing wrong with working with these two types of pipes in combination, as they do not always have to be uniformly used in conjunction. For instance, one might use PVC for above ground applications and ABS for below ground. It all goes back to the choice of the individual who will be working with these pipes.