Home General Industry Experts Chime In: Should You Use Steel or Plastic Pipes in Your Industrial Operations?

Industry Experts Chime In: Should You Use Steel or Plastic Pipes in Your Industrial Operations?

by Olufisayo
Steel or Plastic Pipes

When you are faced with the task of selecting an industrial piping system there are several key factors that you need to consider and being influenced by price alone could turn out to be an expensive mistake.

A top priority is always to try and achieve maximum value for money and a great return on your investment which is why it pays to seek out answers to questions such as whether it would be better to use steel or plastic pipes.

Obviously, companies like Varner Pipe LLC will argue that steel wins the argument over plastic, but in order to make your own mind up and make an informed decision here is a look at some of the fundamental points that could help you to decide.

Steel or Plastic Pipes

Lifecycle considerations

One of your priorities, when you are trying to decide which piping system is going to be the most suitable, is to carry out a lifecycle cost analysis based on the specific conditions and requirements relevant to your industrial operation.

What this means is that there are highly influential factors that need to be accounted for in your analysis such as what fluid temperatures you have to contend with, what the line pressures are likely to be, and any chemicals in the environment that could impact the integrity of the pipework.

A good way of approaching this task would be to break down the analysis into several relevant sections and make your calculations independently of each section so that you can see the pros and cons of each factor.

The cost of the installation

A classic mistake when evaluating the installation costs is to concentrate all of your attention on the direct material costs as the only thing that matters.

What you also need to concern yourself with is what other indirect costs are going to add to the overall tally.

There will be labor costs to account for and any other installation expenses that you need to try and get a handle on, as this figure could quite easily represent a significant percentage of your total expenditure on installation costs.

How much is ongoing maintenance going to cost?

Another highly relevant point to consider is the amount it is going to cost in terms of ongoing maintenance costs.

Any upfront savings that you make by choosing one type of pipework over the other purely on the basis of cost could soon disappear over time when you discover that maintenance costs are higher than anticipated.

When you are conducting your cost comparison analysis it is also advisable to think about the impact any downtime for maintenance and repairs would impact on your costs and overall profitability.


Amongst the questions already highlighted as part of the evaluation process you also want to try and get a clear idea of what the expected service life of your pipework is expected to be.

There are going to the influential factors mentioned such as what materials the pipework will be handling, but aside from that, there has to be an estimate that reveals how long your system is likely to last before the pipework needs completely replacing.

You will want to know this estimated number as it gives you the opportunity to budget and plan for a total repipe when it becomes operationally necessary.

What metal piping offers

There is a reason why metal has been the dominant material in the industrial piping market and one of the main contributory factors behind that success is that this type of piping has proved to be reliable over a long period of time.

What you get with metal piping is a material that is able to offer high pressure-bearing capabilities and a good level of consistency when it comes to coping with high-temperature levels.

Another attribute of metal piping is that its rigidity offers lower installation costs because it allows hangers to be used more sparingly at greater intervals.

The use of plastics in industrial environments

Plastic piping is popular in certain scenarios where corrosion resistance is an advantage and improvements in technology and design now mean that this material is capable of resisting many weather conditions, including resistance to ultraviolet light.

Different types of plastics have varying qualities and whereas PVC can’t handle high-temperature conditions, the development of CPVC is able to offer anti-corrosive and higher heat levels.

In general, what you will quickly discover is that the qualities of different types of plastic piping can vary greatly and this is reflected in the different costs of each type based on their specific strengths.

Do your research

As you can see, choosing the right pipework for your particular industrial application is not as straightforward as it might initially appear.

It is too simplistic to be driven solely by price and taking that strategy could easily prove to be a false economy if your choice turns out to be unsuitable and unreliable in comparison to other more suitable options.

Take your time and do your homework so that you can first create a shortlist of suitable options and then find the option that is most suited to your industrial setting and specific requirements.

The aim should be to try and find a piping system that manages to fall within your budget for the installation but also ticks all the right boxes in terms of performance capabilities.

The default option for a large number of commercial projects is to use steel piping and the fact that it lasts for such a long period of time is an attraction that proves hard to resist for project managers around the globe.

It is clear that there are advantages attached to using steel pipes and the same can be said of the plastic alternative, so the suggestion would be to analyze all the pros and cons in addition to cost comparison so that you can find the right solution for your particular needs.

The reward for being diligent in your research should be a piping system that performs in exactly the way you expected it to.

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