What Are the Differences Between PVC and uPVC? [2024 Guide]

Table Of Contents

So you’re looking to replace or upgrade the windows and doors at your company’s building and wondering what material is best? With PVC and uPVC as the top contenders, it can get confusing trying to determine which is right for your needs.

Both are strong, low-maintenance options, but there are some key distinctions you’ll want to understand. This quick guide breaks down the main differences between PVC and uPVC to help you make the most informed decision for your building project this year.

Check out this quick summary table for an overview of the major differences:

PVC vs uPVC Comparison
Feature uPVC PVC
Composition Does not contain plasticisers. Contains plasticisers.
Application Used in products requiring rigidity like windows and door frames. Used in flexible products like wire insulation and clothing.
Cost Initially costly. Initially affordable.
Durability Lasts longer (up to 35 years). Less durable and can break easily.
Temperature Tolerance Up to 60°C. Up to 60°C.
Maintenance Less maintenance required. More maintenance than uPVC.

What Is the Difference Between PVC and uPVC?

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, and uPVC, or unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, are common plastics used in the construction industry for pipes, windows, flooring, and more.

While they share some similarities, there are a few key differences to note as follows:

Difference Between PVC and uPVC
  • PVC contains plasticisers, which make it flexible, malleable, and perfect for products like wires, toys, and clothing. uPVC is a type of synthetic plastic polymer. Its hard and rigid nature makes it better suited for durable applications such as window frames, siding, and plastic pipe fittings.
  • uPVC is made without plasticisers like phthalates (a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable). This makes it more environmentally friendly. While PVC can start to break down over time and may leach chemicals, uPVC is generally considered a more sustainable and durable choice.
  • Installation and cost also differ. PVC parts are easier to cut and join, while uPVC typically requires welding for a secure seal. uPVC usually has a higher upfront cost but can save money in the long run through lower maintenance and replacement fees.

The type of PVC you’ll need for your building depends on your preference. If flexibility and low cost are priorities, PVC could work well. But for long-lasting products exposed to weather, uPVC is probably your best bet. As the world becomes more climate-sensitive, eco-friendly uPVC is likely to dominate the market.

In the end, both plastics have their place. If you're considering replacing your building's glazing, we suggest you reach out to us at GLRE to help you determine the best PVC material that matches your requirements and budget. Keep reading to learn more about how they both compare in terms of pricing, performance, durability, etc.

PVC vs uPVC: Cost, Performance, Durability, & Maintenance

When deciding between PVC and uPVC for your building, you’ll want to weigh other factors beyond their primary composition and attributes.

1. Price Difference Between PVC and uPVC

PVC is generally cheaper than uPVC. This is because uPVC goes through an extra step to remove plasticisers during the manufacturing process, making it more rigid and durable. While both are affordable and great replacements for copper and aluminium pipes, expect uPVC to cost slightly more upfront. But the durability and energy efficiency of uPVC means you get more value for your money in the long run.

2. Durability Comparison

uPVC is significantly more durable and impact-resistant than standard PVC. Its rigid construction stands up better to weathering, temperature changes, and physical stresses. uPVC windows and pipes generally last longer than PVC, with a uPVC unit lasting up to 35 years. This longevity means fewer replacements and lower costs over time.

Price Difference Between PVC and uPVC

3. Temperature Tolerance

While both can work well for their particular applications when under 60°C in temperature, uPVC have a rigid shape at low temperatures. Basic PVC piping, however, is soft and pliable at similar low temperatures, making it unsuitable for high-heat applications like hot water pipes.

4. Maintenance Requirement

In terms of maintenance, uPVC clearly has the advantage. For example, uPVC is highly resistant to chemical corrosion and weathering, meaning uPVC products typically require little to no painting or staining. This makes the difference between PVC and uPVC windows when it comes to maintenance.

Also, uPVC doesn’t warp, rot, or crack as easily as standard PVC pipes. With minimal maintenance needs, uPVC can save you time, hassle, and money.

While uPVC may cost slightly more upfront, its unparalleled durability, temperature tolerance, and low-maintenance nature can deliver significant long-term savings for your company. When you consider lifetime costs, uPVC is often the more budget-friendly and eco-friendly choice. However, you should also consider the application before making a decision. If you need PVC for your office door or windows, contact us at GLRE to help you determine the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is uPVC the same as PVC?

No, uPVC and PVC are not the same. uPVC, which stands for unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, does not contain plasticisers, making it rigid and ideal for window frames and irrigation systems. A PVC pipe, on the other hand, includes plasticisers that make it flexible and suitable for items like cable insulation and clothing.

Which is more expensive: uPVC or PVC?

PVC tends to be less expensive than uPVC piping due to its flexibility and inclusion of phthalates and BPA (bisphenol A). However, its chemical composition makes it too pliable for rigid structures like windows and doors, where the more durable uPVC is preferred despite its higher cost.

Which is better: PVC or uPVC gutters?

uPVC gutters are generally considered better than PVC gutters. This is because uPVC's ‘unplasticised’ feature makes it tougher and more suitable for the rigours of plumbing and drainage systems. This leads to increased durability and a growing preference for drainage applications.

Is uPVC safer than PVC?

Yes, uPVC pipes are generally considered safer than PVC. uPVC lacks harmful phthalates and BPA found in PVC, making it better for health and the environment. Both offer vinyl’s benefits, but uPVC is sturdier and requires minimal upkeep.


The difference between PVC and uPVC lies in their composition, application, cost, etc. When it comes to windows and doors, uPVC is usually the better choice — it’s more durable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. But you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons yourself and consider your specific needs and budget.

Remember, investing a bit more in quality uPVC products now can save you money and hassle in the long run. And with rising heating costs, the energy savings from uPVC will only become more valuable. Whichever material you go for, make sure you get quotes from reputable suppliers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to consult with a professional glazing company if you’re considering which PVC to use for your glazing units.

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