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Glues and Primers for PVC Pipe

GLUES AND PRIMERS

Much like the names or terms used for our products (Flexible PVC), the terms for the glues and primers are used in many different ways and contexts as well.  Here is the best of the information that we have been able to find concerning PVC glues and primers.  PLEASE BE CERTAIN that the product you purchase is specified for use with PVC pipe (even better if it states it is for use with flexible PVC pipe).  There are cleaners and glues made specifically for PVC, for CPVC and for ABS and they generally do not play well together.  As always, it is best to read the instructions on the glue/primer that you purchase for use to ensure it will work with your product, and that you are utilizing it properly.

 

All pipe surfaces intending to be glued should always be thoroughly cleaned with PVC pipe cleaner before gluing.  Oils, dust and dirt accumulate during the manufacturing process which can affect the holding power of the cement/glue if the pipe is not properly cleaned.

 

We are often asked about the differences between the primer, cleaner and cement/glue products on the market.  Essentially there are three main types of PVC pipe primer/cleaners: 

  • PVC  cleaner – This is a cleaner ONLY and it is generally formulated to remove oil, grease, dirt and any other foreign materials that may exist on the surface of the product remaining from the manufacturing process.  It does not prepare or soften the pipe in any way in preparation for gluing or assembly.
  • PVC primer/cleaner – This is a “hybrid” or combination product which contains both a cleaner and a softening primer that helps to prepare/soften the pipe surface to allow the solvent cement to penetrate more effectively.
  • PVC primer – This product contains more aggressive solvents that are intended only to soften the pipe surface to allow the solvent cement to penetrate more effectively.  The pipe should be cleaned properly before using a primer only.  Local codes often require the use of a primer when working with PVC pipe, and sometimes a certain type (i.e. purple primer) is required.  If you have questions, check with your local code authorities. 

Much like the primer used, it is extremely important to select the proper solvent cement (glue) for your flexible PVC product as well.  Generally speaking, there are several different types of solvent cements available, as follows:

  • Flexible PVC cements are specifically designed with flexible PVC pipe in mind, work well with the vibrations and pressure associated with flexible PVC pipe and should be your first choice if available.
  • PVC cements should be used only for PVC pipe and fittings, but generally will work well with flexible PVC products. (Be certain that the manufacturer does not specifically exclude flexible PVC products in the “uses” information on the product).
  • CPVC cements should be used only for CPVC pipe and fittings and do not work well with flexible PVC products.
  • ABS cements should be used for ABS pipe and fittings and do not work well with flexible PVC products.
  • All-purpose cements – Most of the all-purpose cements on the market can be used on all schedules and classes of ABS, PVC and CPVC pipe; however we have heard of some brands of all-purpose cement that specifically state that it is not for use with flexible PVC pipe, so be careful in your selection.

Most good solvent cements/glues have an applicator/dauber built into the lid of the container. This applicator/dauber can be used to apply cement/glue to pipe sizes up to about 3" in diameter. Generally speaking, most manufacturers recommend the use of an applicator brush measuring at least one-half the size of your pipe diameter if the diameter of the pipe is greater than 3" to allow proper coverage and allow enough time.

Most manufacturers recommend that their solvent cements/glues be applied in temperatures between about 40 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  A good rule of thumb below or above those temperatures is to only use the solvent cement/glue if the glue is easily stirred and not lumpy or coagulated. If the solvent cement/glue is frozen, lumpy or will freeze during application or curing, do NOT apply.   Remember that outside the recommended temperature ranges, additional handling and longer curing times apply – please refer to your manufacturers’ recommendations if you have this need.

Drying/curing times also vary by manufacturer.  Generally speaking, with temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, we’ve seen recommended cure times like the following:

  • Pipe diameter up to 3 inch = 10 minutes
  • Pipe diameter 4 to 5 inches = 30 minutes
  • Pipe diameter 6 to 8 inches = 90 minutes

Again, these vary by climate and also by manufacturer, and most manufacturers agree that you should add additional curing time when using flexible PVC products.  Check also with the specifications on the container for use with flexible PVC products.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE - The primer used is intended to soften the pipe surface and prepare it for the application of the cement/glue.  It is therefore important to apply your solvent cement/glue to the pipe and fittings while the primer is still wet in order to achieve maximum bonding strength.