PEX is a term that was virtually unheard of 15 years ago, but has slowly crept into the building trades, and even the vocabulary of the everyday home owner, home remodeler, and those looking to improve their home or commercial building in various ways.  What is PEX?  PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene, and it is a high tech way to make flexible tubing that is commonly used in both radiant floor heating and plumbing systems around the world.  The cross-linked molecules in the tubing give it some unique properties that make it flexible, durable, and able to withstand the radiant heating and plumbing conditions it is designed for.

Many home owners and commercial building owners are beginning to see the advantages of using PEX over other materials.  When used for plumbing, it’s easier to install than rigid copper or CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl choloride) tubing, and it’s resistant to corrosion that can commonly affect copper pipe.  It doesn’t leach any harmful toxins, glues, solder or metal into the plumbing system.  And some materials, like Uponor’s PEX tubing, have a long track record of use, closing in on 40 years.  For these reasons and more, it is quickly becoming the plumbing material of choice in numerous homes and buildings throughout North America.  In fact, 15 years ago, copper tubing was installed in the majority of home plumbing systems across North America.  Thanks to all that PEX has to offer, that is no longer true.

So, you may have heard of PEX, you may know what it is, you may even be thinking about using it for your home building or remodelling project.  The obvious question that follows is:  How much does PEX tubing cost?  The answer is not absolute.  Market variances, wholesale distributors, contractors and builders all influence the pricing chain, which can create layers and regional differences, depending on what part of the building industry you belong to (wholesaler, plumber, builder, home owner).  In addition, PEX tubing comes in various sizes, (Uponor’s PEX tubing, for example, is sold 3/8” – 4”), and pricing varies by tubing size.  The good news is, PEX will almost always cost less than copper tubing in the same size, and unlike copper, PEX is not a commodity. That means its pricing does not fall victim to the violent swings commonly seen with copper.   The most well-known brands of PEX tubing are usually sold by the manufacturer directly to a wholesale distributor at a “list” price, with a discount applied. 

The most common PEX size used in residential and small commercial projects is ½” pipe size, and list prices can be found from many manufacturers.  However, be aware that the manufacturer discount structures vary widely, so the list price does not give a true picture of the actual discounted price that may be paid.  For the best information on pricing, consult your local plumbing wholesale distributor, or your local plumber.  The clean, quiet, long lasting benefits of PEX tubing make it worth the inquiry!