Bathroom Renovation: Bathroom Plumbing Material Choices

Bathroom Renovation: Bathroom Plumbing Material Choices

Unless your bathroom renovation is purely cosmetic in nature, bathroom plumbing may very well be part of your project requirements. Depending upon the age of your home, you will be working with one of the following types of pipes: plastic PVC (ABS or CPVC), copper, galvanized iron, or cast iron.

If plumbing will be part of your bathroom renovation design, this would be the perfect time to replace old plumbing with new. This would avoid the possible inconvenience and costs incurred by a bathroom plumbing problem at a later time.

Bathroom renovation cost, tools, materials, time involvement, and project complexity will be determined not only by the extent of your bathroom renovation but also by the type of pipe used in plumbing.

Plastic Pipe

Lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to use, plastic pipe is popular for residential plumbing purposes. Available in PVC, ABS, PE, and CPVC forms. There is also PB, but its use is prohibited in many local codes.

Available as rigid and flexible plastic pipe. PVC pipe resists chemical damage and heat better than ABS and meets all plumbing code requirements for above-ground use. CPVC withstands the high temperatures and pressure of water supply systems.

Use plastic pipe for the following purposes:

  • ABS or PVC pipe with a drain-waste-vent (DWV) NSF rating; use for sink traps and as a plastic drain pipe for bathroom sink plumbing.

Pipe type and grade ratings are stamped on each pipe for easy identification. Please note: ABS use is restricted in some local plumbing codes.

Check with a licensed plumbing contractor, certified building inspector, or local residential plumbing code guidelines before beginning any renovation project that includes plumbing.

Copper Pipe

The best material is available for water supply pipes. Available as a rigid and flexible pipe; chromed copper is also available and a popular choice for exposed areas. Copper pipe resists corrosion; sweat-soldered joints are durable.

Rigid copper pipe is approved for home water supply systems by all local codes and is available in 3 wall thicknesses:

  • Type M – thin and inexpensive; a good choice for bathroom plumbing do-it-yourself projects.
  • Type L – strong, easily soldered; preferred choice of the home renovation contractor who wants top-notch quality bathroom plumbing.
  • Type K – the heaviest wall thickness of all copper pipe for plumbing; used most often for underground water service lines.

The flexible copper pipe comes in 2 wall thickness grades; types L and K. Although approved for most home water supply systems, type L is used primarily for gas service lines

DWV copper pipe is for drain systems but is seldom used because most codes allow low-cost plastic DWV pipe.

Galvanized Iron Pipe

Often the type of water supply and small drain line pipe found in older homes; identified by a zinc coating and iron pipe thread fittings.

Iron pipe is strong but difficult to cut; it corrodes with age and eventually needs replacement. Low water pressure is often a sign that rust has built up inside the pipe.

Old galvanized iron pipe systems can be difficult to work with; they are not recommended for new bathroom renovation purposes. These types of bathroom plumbing repairs and alterations are best left to a plumbing contractor.

Cast Iron Pipe

Rarely used in new bathroom plumbing, the cast iron pipe can be identified by its dark color and rough surface. It is strong, but difficult to cut and fit pieces together. Hubbed fittings can develop leaks, and pipes can rust through.

When the plumbing code book allows, plastic pipe replacements should be made. Use a special fitting called an “banded coupling” to connect new plastic pipe to existing cast iron. Cast iron pipe repair is another bathroom renovation project best left in the hands of a reliable bathroom remodeling contractor.

We hope this article on bathroom plumbing material choices has been helpful. If you require assistance with your bathroom renovation idea, why not post project requirements at It is fast, easy, and FREE!

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