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What is the Difference Between Pipe and Tube?

One of the most frequent questions we get from customers is “What’s the difference between pipe and tube”? Although pipes and tubes may look similar, they are in fact quite different in nomenclature and sizing. Remember that pipes and tubes are rarely interchangeable.

The difference between pipe and tube include:

  • Shape
  • Measurement
  • Telescoping Abilities
  • Rigidity
  • Applications
  • Metal Types
  • Size
  • Strength

Shape

Pipes are always round in shape. Tubes can be squarerectangular or round, as shown in the image to the right.

Measurement

Pipes are only provided with an inside (nominal) diameter and a “schedule” (which means wall thickness). There’s an easy way to remember this: since pipe is used to transfer fluids or gas, the size of the opening through which the fluids or gas can pass through is probably more important to you than the outer dimensions of the pipe. Tube measurements, on the other hand, are provided as an outside diameter and set ranges of wall thickness.

Telescoping Abilities

Tube can be telescoped. Remember to account for the flash weld inside the tube. Pipe, on the other hand, does not have a flash weld. DOM (Drawn over Mandrel) Tube is the best material for telescoping because the inside flash weld has been removed.

Rigidity

Although copper and brass tubes can be shaped relatively easily, tubes are are typically rigid. Pipes, on the other hand, are invariably rigid and cannot be shaped without special equipment.

Applications

Only pipes are pressure rated and intended to be used for the transference of fluids or gas. Tubes, on the other hand, are used in structural applications.

Metal Types

Tube is available in hot rolled steel and cold rolled steel. Pipe is typically black steel (hot rolled). Both items can be galvanized.

Size

Pipe is typically available in larger sizes than tube.

Strength

Tube is stronger than pipe.

Don’t have time to read the blog?

Watch our video below to learn more about the differences between pipe and tube:

Metal Supermarkets

Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 85 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

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Our steel is available in a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets and plates. We can cut metal to your exact specifications.

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