How Much Glue/Cement and Cleaner Will You Need?

Firstly, let's clear up a common misconception: when referring to PVC [PVCU or UPVC] and ABS plastic pipe systems, "glue", "cement" and "solvent cement" are generic terms which all mean the same thing. If being technically correct, the term "solvent cement" should be used, but people also use "glue" and "cement" to refer to the same item. It's the stuff that bonds the pipe and fitting together!

The table below gives an approximation of the amount of PVC or ABS glue/solvent cement you will need for your plastic pipe system. You will usually need about half as much cleaner as cement. Cleaner is essential, even for new pipes and fittings, as there can sometimes be contaminants left over from the manufacturing process that will prevent the direct contact of the cement to the plastic.

The amount you use in your pipe system will be somewhat dependent on how neat you are, but NEVER be tempted to be too neat, as too little cement is worse than too much. With too much, your pipe system may look untidy, with excess around the joints. With too little cement it will leak; water dripping or spurting from your joints is never a good look!

Pipe Size (inch) Pipe Size (mm) Approx joints per litre ABS Approx joints per litre PVC
3/8 -1" 16-32mm 400 300
1 1/4" - 2" 40-63mm 200 120
2 1/2" - 4" 75-110mm 70 50
5" 125-140mm 20 15
6" - 8" 160-225mm 10 8

If using a bristle-type brush, try to use one that is about 1/3 to 1/2 the diameter of the pipe you are using. Most of our PVC cements come with a brush inside the tin; however, especially if assembling small plastic pipes and fittings, the correct brush size should be used. Our ABS cement comes in an open top tin without a brush.

Dry Assembly

Some pipefitters prefer to dry assemble before cementing. If you are thinking of doing this, here's a couple of tips:

  • Never try to dry fit once you have used any solvent/cleaner on either the pipe, the fitting or both. You are likely to have real trouble separating them again
  • Very often, when dry fitting, the pipe does not go all the way into the socket. When cement is applied, it will. This can lead to incorrect measurements being taken
  • If you dry fit your plastic pipework, especially PVC and ABS, be prepared to have a battle taking it apart again! NEVER use a metal hammer or other object to separate - use a plastic or wooden mallet. Using a metal object may crack your pipe/fitting. Even worse, it could put a hairline crack in it that you don't notice until you have assembled and pressure tested!

If in doubt about assembling your pipe system feel free to ring us for advice on the number at the top of this web page.