How To Select the Right Drainage Products for Your Project

Never underestimate the importance of fitting the right drainage system into your construction project. A poorly designed or fitted drainage system can cause catastrophic problems.

In the future, occupants may have to contend with unpleasant odors, blockages, leakage and major health risks if you don’t take the necessary precautions now.

Drainage Products
Drainage Products Photo by Brixiv on

When selecting a drainage system, there are four main areas to consider: the pipe materials, quality of connections, size of pipes, and their gradients.

Here, we explore your main options for pipe products and offer advice so you can get your system right the first time.

What you should be looking for – Drainage Products

When you design a drainage system and choose materials, you are aiming to achieve these three things in unison.

  • The fast, effective removal of waste water both above and underground.
  • Minimal risks to the environment and the building users.
  • A cost-effective solution.

Accomplishing all these three objectives will ensure the satisfaction of all project stakeholders. Not just now, but in the future too, since the proper choice of design and materials will minimize problems and reduce maintenance time and costs.

To hit these goals, you need to carefully balance these considerations when you choose your drainage system materials.

  • Initial installation costs
  • Ease of installation
  • Projected maintenance costs
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Capacity and flow rates
  • Sustainability and eco-friendliness

The ideal material is therefore easy and inexpensive to install and maintain, as well as being high quality, fit for purpose and as eco-friendly as possible. So, what are the options?

Materials for drainage pipes

The type of drainage pipes most often used in your location will depend on cost and availability. Here are some that could be available for your project.

  • PVC/HDPE pipes
  • Cast iron
  • Stoneware
  • Concrete
  • Asbestos cement (AC)
  • Galvanized steel (GI)

Each of these offers different advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, some are principally designed for underground use, so they would need to be combined with a second material if they are to be used above the ground. Only lighter weight materials are usually suitable for aboveground use. 

Stoneware is inexpensive but can be complicated to install correctly. AC pipes are also lower in terms of price but are known to break more easily than the other materials on the list; therefore, you are more likely to encounter problems and maintenance expenses.

Both cast-iron and steel pipes are more expensive than other materials. Cast iron is heavy and difficult to transport, whereas steel is at risk of corrosion. Concrete is also difficult to transport because of its weight and is difficult to repair.

PVC and HDPE pipes overcome many of these difficulties, so let’s explore these materials in more detail.

Advantages of PVC and HDPE pipes

PVC and HDPE are similar and share many advantages. Both are plastics. They are highly durable and safe. Plus, both are lightweight and easy to transport. The key difference between them is their composition. This means that their performance is slightly different.


Both HDPE and PVC outperform other pipe materials. Of the two, HDPE is considered the most durable and best able to withstand extreme weather conditions over ground. However, PVC pipe products are widely used for drainage projects and are considered ideal for long-term underground use. Both materials are resistant to corrosion and abrasive materials.


The smoothness of plastic pipes means ‌they can cope with very high flow rates. Both HDPE and PVC create little turbulence and drag. They are quiet. They also save space. This is because you would need to use much larger concrete and stoneware pipes to cope with the same flow rate.

Ease and cost of installation

PVC pipe installation is straightforward. The material is very lightweight and easy to work with. It is the lowest-cost material to install.

HDPE requires specialist equipment and operators to ensure it’s fitted correctly. HDPE pipes are connected using heat fusion. While this affects the cost of their installation, it is also one reason behind their excellent performance and durability. They do not require heavy lifting equipment so they are still relatively inexpensive to install compared to concrete and metals. HDPE is considered very cost effective.


Both HDPE and PVC pipe fittings are recommended for their environmentally friendly properties. Both use less energy than non-plastics during the manufacturing process. Their lightweight properties also minimize environmental costs during transportation.

Their long-term impact is also minimal. Both offer excellent water conservation. They are also recyclable.

Potential disadvantages

There are a couple of things to remember about both PVC and HDPE.

  • You need to opt for high-quality PVC or HDPE from a reputable manufacturer. This is because the pipes must be absolutely uniform in composition for optimal standards of installation and performance.
  • Both are more expensive than some materials. However, they have lower maintenance costs than their cheaper alternatives. 

Choose Plastic Pipes for Performance and Durability

On balance, plastic pipes hit all the key objectives.

Both HDPE and PVC are cost-effective while also offering good performance and durability. Their cost to the environment is smaller, too. They make a universally good choice for all drainage systems.


Sudheer T R is the Managing Director at Polyfab Plastic Industry LLC, experts in high quality, technologically advanced plastic piping solutions in the UAE. The combination of academic interest, field exposure and market experience of 15 years has given Sudheer the force to harness cutting-edge technologies in today’s most rigorous construction environment.