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February 25, 2024

PEX vs. PREX Piping: A Comparative Analysis


PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) and PREX (polyethylene of raised temperature cross-linking) are two types of plastic piping materials that have gained popularity in plumbing systems due to their advantages over traditional metal pipes. However, they differ in several key aspects that may influence the choice of material for a specific application.

Material properties:


  • Cross-linking: PEX undergoes a chemical process that enhances its molecular structure, resulting in increased strength, durability, and resistance to heat and chemicals.
  • Types: PEX comes in various types, including PEX-a, PEX-b, PEX-c, and PEX-d, each with different properties and applications.
  • Flexibility: PEX is known for its flexibility, making it easy to install and maneuver in tight spaces.


  • Cross-linking: PREX is produced using a different cross-linking method that involves higher temperatures and pressures, resulting in a material with distinct characteristics.
  • Types: PREX is primarily available in two types, PREX-A and PREX-B, with varying levels of flexibility and performance.
  • Brittleness: PREX is generally more brittle than PEX, making it more susceptible to cracking and breakage, especially in cold temperatures.

Performance characteristics:

Temperature resistance:

PEX: PEX has a higher maximum operating temperature (up to 200°F) than PREX (up to 180°F), making it suitable for hot water applications.

PREX: PREX is not recommended for continuous use at high temperatures, as it can degrade and weaken over time.
Pressure resistance:

PEX: PEX can withstand higher water pressure than PREX, making it a better choice for high-pressure systems.
PREX: PREX is more prone to leaks and bursts under high pressure, limiting its application in demanding systems.

Chemical resistance:

PEX: PEX is resistant to a wide range of chemicals, including chlorine, making it suitable for potable water systems.

PREX: PREX is less resistant to certain chemicals than PEX, and its use in chemical-rich environments may require additional precautions.


PEX: PEX is relatively easy to install, requiring fewer tools and fittings than traditional metal pipes.

Its flexibility allows for easy bending and routing, reducing the need for elbows and joints.

PREX: PREX is more challenging to install compared to PEX due to its brittleness. It requires more careful handling and specialized tools to avoid cracking or breaking during installation.


PEX: PEX is generally more expensive than PREX, but its higher performance and durability may justify the additional cost in certain applications.

PREX: PREX is a more cost-effective option than PEX, but its lower performance and limited applications may make it less suitable for demanding projects.


PEX and PREX are both viable alternatives to traditional metal pipes, each offering unique advantages and drawbacks. PEX is the superior choice in terms of flexibility, temperature and pressure resistance, chemical compatibility, and ease of installation. However, PREX may be a more cost-effective option for less demanding applications where its limitations are not a significant concern.

Key takeaways:

  • PEX is more flexible, durable, and has higher temperature and pressure resistance than PREX.
  • PREX is more brittle, less chemical resistant, and more challenging to install than PEX.
  • PEX is generally more expensive than PREX, but its higher performance may justify the cost.
  • The choice between PEX and PREX should be based on the specific requirements of the project.

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