Is PEX Better Than Copper?

When it comes to plumbing, the debate between PEX and copper pipes is a hot topic. Copper has been the gold standard for decades, praised for its reliability and longevity. But in recent years, PEX has gained traction, celebrated for its flexibility and ease of use.

This article will look into the key differences between these two popular pipe materials, helping you decide which is best for your home.

Key Differences Between PEX & Copper

Copper and PEX pipes have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different applications. Here, we’ll explore the primary differences, including flexibility, cost, and durability.

PEX Piping

PEX pipes

Material and Flexibility

PEX, or cross-linked polyethylene, is a flexible plastic material. This flexibility means fewer fittings are needed, simplifying the installation process. Imagine trying to maneuver rigid copper pipes through tight spaces; PEX bends and curves with ease, making it a popular choice for modern plumbing systems.

Resistance to Corrosion and Freezing

One of PEX’s standout features is its high resistance to corrosion and scale buildup. Unlike copper, which can corrode over time, PEX remains unaffected. Additionally, PEX is less likely to burst in freezing temperatures, offering peace of mind during cold winters.


PEX isn’t perfect. It’s not suitable for outdoor use due to its sensitivity to UV rays. Exposure to sunlight can degrade the material, so it’s best used indoors where UV exposure is minimal.

Maintenance and Care

PEX pipes require relatively low maintenance. Protecting them from UV exposure and avoiding harsh chemicals is usually sufficient to keep them in good condition. This makes PEX an easy choice for those looking to minimize upkeep.

Copper Piping

copper vs. PEX

Material and Durability

Copper is a rigid metal, known for its durability and ability to withstand high temperatures and pressure. It’s a tried-and-true option that has been used in plumbing systems for decades. Copper’s rigidity makes it less flexible during installation, but its strength is hard to beat.

UV and Chemical Resistance

Copper’s resistance to UV rays makes it suitable for outdoor use, unlike PEX. It can handle exposure to sunlight without degrading, making it a versatile choice for various applications.


Copper isn’t without its drawbacks. Over time, it can corrode and develop scale buildup, potentially leading to leaks and reduced water flow. Regular maintenance is essential to prevent these issues.

Maintenance and Care

Maintaining copper pipes involves regular checks for leaks and corrosion. Protecting them from acidic substances is also crucial. While this might sound like a hassle, the longevity of copper pipes can make the effort worthwhile.

PEX vs. Copper

Both PEX and copper pipes offer unique advantages and disadvantages, influencing their suitability for different plumbing applications. Let’s explore how they compare in various aspects such as longevity, installation, maintenance, and more.

Length of Use

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes boast an impressive lifespan of 50-70 years. This makes them ideal for long-term homeowners who plan to stay put for decades.

PEX Pipes

PEX pipes, on the other hand, have a lifespan of 30-50 years. They might not last as long as copper, but they’re still a solid choice for starter homes or temporary residences.


Both materials offer excellent longevity, depending on your needs. If you’re in it for the long haul, copper might be your best bet. But for shorter-term stays, PEX is a reliable and cost-effective option.

Installation and Maintenance

Copper Pipes

Installing copper pipes requires cutting, welding, and a significant amount of labor. This makes the installation process more invasive and often requires professional help. Maintenance can also be labor-intensive.

PEX Pipes

PEX pipes are much easier to install. Their flexibility means fewer fittings and less labor. Maintenance is simpler too, often being DIY-friendly.


PEX is more user-friendly and cost-effective in terms of installation and maintenance. If you’re looking to save time and money, PEX is the way to go.

Plumbing Access

PEX Pipes

PEX systems often use a water distribution manifold with individual valves for different areas. This makes it easier to manage the water supply and perform repairs without shutting off the entire system.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes don’t offer the same level of convenience. Typically, you’ll need to shut off the whole water supply to make repairs, which can be a hassle.


PEX offers better accessibility and convenience for homeowners. It’s a practical choice for modern plumbing needs.


PEX Pipes

PEX pipes are susceptible to damage from extreme temperatures, chemicals, and UV exposure. They are, however, better at handling acidic water. Physical damage from rodents or sharp objects can also be a concern.

Copper Pipes

Copper is more resistant to extreme conditions and physical damage. However, it is prone to freezing in winter, which can lead to burst pipes.


Copper is generally more durable, but PEX has advantages in specific conditions, such as handling acidic water and resisting scale buildup.

Environmental Impacts

PEX Pipes

PEX is produced sustainably with less energy and can be recycled. This makes it a more environmentally friendly option.

Copper Pipes

Copper production involves strip mining, which can cause significant environmental damage. While copper can be recycled, the production process is more destructive.


PEX is more environmentally friendly in its production and usage. If sustainability is a priority, PEX is the better choice.


PEX Pipes

PEX pipes are generally 20-80% cheaper than copper. The lower material and labor costs make PEX a budget-friendly option.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are more expensive upfront and over time due to higher installation and maintenance costs.


PEX is more cost-effective, though copper’s longevity may justify the higher cost for some homeowners.

So Which is Better? PEX or Copper?

PEX manifold

Summary of Pros and Cons

PEX: Affordable, easier to work with, environmentally friendly.

Copper: Durable, longer lifespan, traditional reliability.

Future Prospects

PEX technology continues to advance, potentially offering even greater benefits in the future. Copper remains a reliable choice, standing the test of time despite the competition from newer materials.

Apollo Plumbing Can Update Your Plumbing

Before making a decision, it’s important to consult a professional plumber. They can provide personalized advice based on your budget, needs, and home conditions.

At Apollo Plumbing, our team of ready-right-now plumbers has the expertise to guide you through this choice, ensuring you get the best solution for your home. Whether you need advice or a full installation, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between PEX and copper pipes depends on your specific needs and circumstances. PEX offers flexibility, ease of installation, and environmental benefits. Copper provides durability and a long lifespan, making it a reliable option for many homeowners. Both materials have their strengths, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision.


Q: Which is cheaper, PEX or copper pipes?

A: PEX pipes are generally 20-80% cheaper than copper pipes, both in terms of material costs and installation.

Q: Can PEX be used outdoors?

A: No, PEX is not suitable for outdoor use due to its sensitivity to UV rays.

Q: How long do PEX and copper pipes last?

A: PEX pipes typically last 30-50 years, while copper pipes can last 50-70 years.

Q: Are PEX pipes environmentally friendly?

A: Yes, PEX pipes are produced with less energy and can be recycled, making them an environmentally friendly option.

Q: Which type of pipe is more resistant to freezing?

A: PEX pipes are less likely to burst in freezing temperatures compared to copper pipes.