HDPE vs PEX Pipes

HDPE vs PEX Pipes: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Best Plumbing Materials for Your Project

Last Updated on June 28, 2023

Not sure if PEX or HDPE is right for your plumbing upgrade? Both have perks, so it’s worth looking into the differences to decide what fits best.

Well, HDPE is the most popular type of pipe in household plumbing because it has great strength and durability, making it perfect for underground piping.

As for PEX, it’s made from high-density polyethylene, but it’s more flexible and can take higher temperatures and pressures. Also, it won’t corrode as metal pipes do.

Ultimately, HDPE might be ideal for extreme temperatures or pressures, while PEX would work better in colder climates or tight spaces due to its flexibility. 

Get ready to find out which pipe is best for your project as we dive deep into cost, installation, durability and so much more in this article that will help inform your decision-making process. Keep reading to get a better handle on these popular plumbing materials.

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The Differences Between HDPE and PEX Piping

If you’re considering which type of pipe to use for a plumbing project, then HDPE vs PEX is likely at the top of your list. Both types have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh all factors when making that decision.

Here, we’ll compare HDPE and PEX pipes in terms of environmental benefits, installation, strength and more.

Strength and Durability

HDPE pipes are known for their strength and durability. Made from High-Density Polyethylene, they are resistant to impact and can withstand higher temperatures than other materials.

HDPE pipes offer greater resistance to chemicals, making them ideal for industrial applications. They also have high compressive strength, making them a good choice for underground installations.

Resistant to Corrosion or Rusting

Regarding corrosion or rusting resistance, both HDPE and PEX come out on top.

While the two materials have similar levels of corrosion resistance, PEX is slightly better at resisting oxidation when exposed to outdoor elements like rain and snow or even saltwater environments like coastal areas or swimming pools.

HDPE  Pipes

This makes it a great option for outdoor projects such as irrigation lines or piping in coastal areas.


When comparing the cost of HDPE vs PEX pipes it’s important to consider the type of project you’re undertaking as this will affect which material would be most cost effective in a given situation.

HDPE is tougher and more durable than PEX but takes more time to install. That means it can cost more per foot to install. PEX is easier to work with because it’s flexible, so you don’t need as many tools or welding for the installation. It depends on the size of the project too.

When you are planning a construction project, it is important to think about the cost of labor for installing the different materials you are considering. This way, you can decide which material will be more cost effective for your project goals.


HDPE pipes are rigid and resistant to bending, making them the ideal choice for large diameter piping systems. They can be used in temperatures ranging from -40°F (-40°C) up to 140°F (60°C).

PEX pipes, on the other hand, have much higher flexibility and are easier to install. It can be used in temperatures ranging from -160°F (-107°C) up to 200°F (93°C).

This makes PEX the preferred choice for outdoor piping and hot water systems as its greater flexibility allows it to bend around obstacles or curves more easily than HDPE.


Installing HDPE is more labor intensive due to its rigid nature and weightier than PEX. For example, extra effort is needed when installing around tight spaces or curves due to its lack of flexibility.

Heat fusion welding is required when connecting HDPE pipes together through a process of melting two surfaces together with heat and pressure, creating a leak-proof connection that won’t separate over time.

PEX Pipes

PEX is a great choice for piping because it takes less time to install compared to other materials. It can be joined together using crimp rings and compression fittings, which don’t require welding, making it much easier to work with.

Plus, it’s lighter than HDPE so you won’t have as much trouble moving it around during the installation process.

Environmental Benefits

HDPE and PEX both have long lifespans, so they don’t end up in landfills. This means less pollution and it also helps conserve resources like metal piping which can corrode and cause leaks that require frequent repairs or replacements.

Both materials are really light, so it takes less energy to transport them compared to heavier materials like copper or steel piping. This means lower fuel costs and it helps the environment.

Temperatures and Pressures Resistant

HDPE has a higher melting point than PEX and is more resistant to temperatures and pressure. This means it can handle more extreme temperature fluctuations without degrading, making it ideal for applications that require consistent performance in high temperatures.

Additionally, HDPE is highly resistant to chemicals, making it perfect for industrial applications as well as usage in low-pH environments. PEX, while not as heat-resistant as HDPE, can still withstand relatively high temperatures and pressures.


Both HDPE and PEX are lightweight materials that are easy to transport from job site to job site. They also offer excellent strength-to-weight ratios so that they won’t add unnecessary weight to construction projects.

Another benefit of these materials is their flexibility; PEX is much more pliable than HDPE and can be bent around corners or used in tight spaces where other materials wouldn’t fit due to their rigidity.

Is PEX the same as HDPE?

PEX and HDPE are two types of plastic piping materials that are often used in plumbing applications. PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene pipe that is flexible, durable, and easy to install.

HDPE is a high-density polyethylene pipe that is a rigid and strong material that is also highly resistant to wear and tear. Both PEX and HDPE are popular options for plumbing projects but they differ in their features, performance, and cost.

Why are HDPE pipes preferred?

HDPE pipes are preferred for a variety of reasons. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) piping systems have been used for municipal and industrial water applications for over 50 years due to their durability, flexibility, and chemical resistance.

HDPE pipes are corrosion resistant, which eliminates the need for costly maintenance and repairs. They also have a long lifespan, with some estimates as high as 100 years in certain applications.

Additionally, HDPE pipes are lightweight and easy to install, making them an ideal choice for many projects. Finally, HDPE pipes are non-toxic and safe for use in drinking water applications.

Can you use HDPE for the water line?

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is an ideal piping solution for public and private potable water systems. It has a service life of over 100 years and can be used in many different applications.

HDPE pipe is resistant to corrosion, chemical-resistant, non-toxic and has low thermal conductivity. It is also flexible, durable and easy to install. Additionally, it can be heat fused together to form a joint that is as strong or stronger than the pipe itself and is leak free.

How long does an HDPE water pipe last?

HDPE water pipe is a reliable and cost-effective choice for potable water systems. It is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin, which makes it highly durable and resistant to corrosion and chemical damage.

In terms of service life, HDPE water pipe has an estimate of over 100 years, making it an ideal choice for long-term projects. Its flexibility also allows for easy installation in difficult terrain or areas with tight spaces.

HDPE water pipe is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, pressure, and other environmental factors without compromising its integrity.

This makes it suitable for use in both hot and cold climates and areas that experience frequent changes in temperature or pressure. It is also resistant to UV radiation, making it safe for outdoor use.

Do professional plumbers use PEX?

PEX piping, or cross-linked polyethylene, is a type of flexible plastic tubing that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is an alternative to copper and PVC water lines and offers several advantages for plumbing applications.

Professional plumbers have been using PEX for decades due to its durability, flexibility, and cost savings.

PEX is more resistant to freezing than copper or PVC pipes, making it ideal for cold climates. It also requires fewer fittings than traditional piping materials, which makes installation easier and faster.

Additionally, PEX is less expensive than copper and can be used with existing plumbing systems without needing to be replaced.

Overall, professional plumbers have embraced the use of PEX piping due to its many advantages over traditional materials.

Its flexibility allows it to be used in tight spaces where other types of pipes may not fit, while its resistance to freezing makes it a great choice for cold climates. Its cost savings make it a popular option among professionals looking to save money on their projects.

Make the Right Choice for Your Home Plumbing System

It is important to consider both HDPE and PEX when replacing or installing a plumbing system in your home. By understanding their unique benefits and drawbacks, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

HDPE may be better suited for extreme temperatures or pressures, while PEX may be preferable in colder climates or tight spaces due to its flexibility. Ultimately, both materials provide excellent durability and reliability – so whichever one you choose, it should last a long time.

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Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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