Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are common building materials. Though they are similar in name, these materials have a number of key differentiating features that are worth understanding. Whether you’re looking to install uPVC windows or PVC fencing, it’s good to understand why one material is used over the other. This knowledge will help you choose the right building material for future home projects.
In this blog, we will take a look at the characteristics of both uPVC and PVC and discuss why each material is used for different applications.
PVC is one of the most widely produced synthetic plastic polymers in the world. Around 40 million metric tons of PVC is manufactured each year. Since it is readily available and can be acquired at a low cost, PVC has become a popular choice of building material across many industries.
The properties of PVC makes it an extremely versatile material. It can be used in a variety of settings. PVC is often used in piping, cabling, fencing and various commercial manufacturing projects.
Since PVC is plasticised, it is much more flexible than its unplasticised counterpart. This makes PVC suitable for cabling insulation, where the material needs to be able to twist and bend in various directions. PVC’s flexibility is also taken advantage of in commercial and residential piping. If PVC piping is subjected to heavy loads, the material will not break. Instead, it will simply get deformed and form bulges. Though it weakens the material, its ability to flex under pressure is able to prevent leakages and holes.
Because of its flexibility, PVC is also used in tensile roofs, complex packaging, and various medical equipment.
- Contains harmful chemical compounds
PVC gets its plasticity and flexibility via phthalates and BPA. Both of these chemical compounds are extremely harmful. There are claims that phthalates have adverse effects on sexual development in women, male fertility and children’s neurodevelopment. Humans can be exposed to phthalates in a variety of ways. They can be inhaled and consumed in food. It can also cause adverse effects if it makes contact with our skin.
BPA, on the other hand, shows low levels of toxicity. However, it was found that it has estrogen-like properties and can cause skin irritations on mice.
uPVC is the unplasticised version of PVC. This has a couple of implications but the main one is that uPVC is more rigid and harder than PVC. This makes it suitable for applications that require durability and high impact resistance. uPVC is used in window frames, doors and other parts of your home that are exposed to the harsh elements. Since flexibility is not required in these settings, most uPVC frames can also be reinforced with galvanised steel, adding even more rigidity to the material.
Since PVC uses a resin powder for plasticising, its surface is relatively porous. On the other hand, uPVC has no need for resin and is therefore non-porous. This allows it to resist moisture and other contaminants that could damage the material.
As a result of this non-porousness, uPVC is more resistant to moisture and contaminants than PVC. Also, since it’s resistant to the effects of sunlight and oxidation, uPVC will be able to last for many, many years with minimal maintenance.
Because of the properties listed above, uPVC is a great alternative to timber and metals. It can even be modified so that it looks like other materials.
- uPVC is safer
Since uPVC is unplasticised, it doesn’t contain phthalates and BPA like PVC. Because of this, uPVC is significantly safer for residential and commercial use. Indeed, uPVC is also widely used in various medical settings where phthalate and BPA exposure could be detrimental. In the food industry, uPVC is also useful during the manufacturing process as it reduces the chances of contaminating the food products.
That was just a quick overview of PVC and uPVC. Hopefully, this blog helped you understand the differences between these two materials. If you have further questions about these products, be sure to contact a reliable manufacturer. They should be able to advise you about which material is more suitable for your needs and budget.