Steel vs. Copper Plumbing Pipe Fittings: Pros and Cons

Galvanized steel pipes

Plumbing pipe fittings are generally manufactured from various metal materials. Plastic is also used in plumbing installations. Two frequently used metals used to produce plumbing fittings are steel and copper. Both have been used for several centuries in plumbing installations. Perhaps you’re wondering if one is superior to the other. Below is a basic comparison of both.

Pros of Steel Plumbing Pipe Fittings

man working on pipes

Steel is one of the most durable metals available for plumbing works. Once installed, steel plumbing fittings last a lifetime. Since plumbing fittings are the sort of installation many people prefer to do just once and forget, this makes steel plumbing fittings a cost-effective investment for homeowners. Steel can withstand rust and corrosion very well. Steel fittings are not affected by extremely hot or cold temperatures. Should water freeze in steel piping, no damage is caused. This adds to the durability of steel plumbing fittings. Steel fittings are a good choice for those who live in marine environments. The salt water washing over the pipes will not cause wear and tear of plumbing fittings.


Steel is not one of the easier materials to work with for plumbing installations. Compared to copper, steel is extremely hard and lacks the malleability of copper. This makes installation more entailing which also adds to overall costs. When used in plumbing, steel must be galvanized to protect it from rust and corrosion. However, galvanized steel may introduce small quantities of lead into the water with time. This may have some harmful effects to health which is why many people have a preference for copper.

Pros of Copper Plumbing Pipe Fittings

copper pipes

The durability of copper fittings has been well proven over time. Many buildings that are several centuries old still retain the very same copper fittings that were originally installed. Copper has a remarkable resistance to fire. In the event of fire, fittings will not be destroyed. Also of significance is that in the event of a fire, since copper fittings don’t burn, no toxic gases are released. This helps contain the toxic dangers created by house fires. Copper fittings are also resistant to bacteria and rot. The biostatic quality of copper prevents bacteria from growing in the piping. This assures you of cleaner and safer water supply. Copper is a much softer metal than steel which makes it easier to work with. You can achieve various lengths, widths and contours more easily with copper. Copper bends easily which reduces the need for connectors and fasteners in plumbing. This cuts down on both hardware and installations costs.


Copper plumbing fittings are more costly than steel. This places them beyond reach especially where the budget may be restricted. Although copper can withstand high temperatures, it doesn’t bear up well to extreme cold. Where extremely cold weather occurs, water can freeze in the piping. This can cause copper piping to split. Repair or replacement adds to your home maintenance costs. If you live in area where water contains high levels of acid, copper plumbing is unsuitable. High water acidity causes corrosion to copper plumbing.