Home Improvement: Eight Types of Water Supply Pipes

While many homeowners may assume that there are only a few different types of water supply pipes, there are eight that are used regularly in residential construction. Knowing which types are in your home is essential if you plan on doing even minor plumbing repair work on your house. Below are the eight common varieties and the ways to join and cut them.


Galvanized-steel pipes were once commonly used in residential construction. Now they are primarily used for repair work because they have been displaced by other easier to use pipe options. You can cut galvanized-steel with a wheel cutter and threading dies. This method of cutting is important, because you join this type with threaded fittings.


CPVC pipes were developed as a cheaper alternative to rigid copper pipes. Although you will find varying opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of these pipes, know that they do not meet all building codes in some areas. For this reason, be sure to check with the local building office before using this material.

There are three main options for cutting this type of pipe. You can use a wheel cutter, hacksaw, or scissor cutter. The preferred cutting method will depend on how you plan on joining the pipe together; PVC cement, crimp ring fittings, or compression fittings are all good options.

Rigid Copper

Rigid copper pipe is the primary type of pipe used in most home construction. It is often soldered together, but can also be fitted together using compression fittings. You can cut it using a wheel cutter or hacksaw.

Soft Copper

Soft copper is often thought of a pipe that is used for natural gas and propane, but it can also be used for water. Soft copper is allowed under concrete, giving it a distinct advantage over other types of pipe. You can cut soft copper with a wheel cutter or a hacksaw, and join it used compression fittings or flare fittings.


Cross linked polyethylene plastic pipe is a flexible piping option that has gained acceptance because of its workability factor. This is an unusual type of pipe to find in a home; your home will undoubtedly be less than ten years old if it has this type of pipe. You can cut pex with a scissor tool or hacksaw, but be aware that you will have to buy proprietary fittings to join pex.

Chromed Ribbed Copper

Chromed ribbed copper pipe is used only for fixture supplies. It can bend easily which is an asset because you do not cut this type of pipe. You can joint it together, or to another type of pipe with compression fittings.

Flexible Braided-Steel Supply Line

Flexible braided-steel supply line is also used for fixture supply lines. It is also not cut, and jointed with fittings that are installed in the factory.

Chromed Copper Tubing

Chromed copper tubing is used to provide water to fixtures. It is commonly connected between a fixture and permanent plumbing. It can be cut using a hacksaw or wheel cutter and joined using compression fittings.

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