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PVC pipe is a commonly used material in a variety of home improvement builds and projects. If you want to ensure that you’re creating durable and secure connections that are leak-proof and built to last, you’ll want to follow this step-by-step guide to get it right.
In this article, we’ll go in-depth on how to glue PVC pipe and discuss the details of the process. You’ll learn about the materials you need, how to prepare for the project, and best practices so that it goes smoothly.
PVC Solvents 101
The first thing you need to know about creating connections between PVC pipes is that they are permanent. While fastening the pieces together is often referred to as gluing them, what you’re actually doing when you use a solvent is creating a weld.
The cement used melts the surfaces of the PVC plastic, and the curing material allows them to meld together and fuse after about 30 seconds. This not only creates a permanent connection but also enables you to build a solid structure without any risk of leaks or weak points like you would see in a normal sealant that could erode or break over time.
PVC Project Steps
Before you start any DIY project, it’s helpful to outline the steps in the process so that you know the materials you need to see it through.
For most PVC pipe builds and repairs, you’ll first need to measure and cut the pipe, then dry fit your design, prep your space to glue, and then complete the gluing process. Below, we’ll outline each of these steps in detail and give you tips and best practices that are easy to follow.
Step 1: Measure and Cut
The first step of your project is assembling all of your needed materials, and that includes PVC pipe of the appropriate size. You can visit a local hardware store to purchase pre-cut pieces, or you can do the measurements and slicing at home.
To do it yourself, you’ll need:
- PVC Pipe Cutter or another mechanismto make the slice like a hacksaw
- Tape Measure
- Vice (to hold the pipe steady andprevent rolling)
Start by taking the measurements, and do the longest pieces you’ll need for your project first. Use the tape measure to find the exact distance and mark it on the pipe with a pencil. It’s always smart to measure twice before you make the cut.
Next, place the pipe into a PVC pipe cutter and line up your pencil mark exactly with the cutter blade. If you’re using another method, like a hacksaw, follow this same process but ensure that the tube is held in place with a vice or miter box and won’t roll or move as you make the slice.
After you’ve portioned out all of your sections, use sandpaper to take off any rough edges or burrs. We recommend an 80 to 100-grit paper, or a medium flat file to get the job done.
Step 2: Dry Fit the Pieces
If you’re new to home improvement, a perfectionist, or want to prototype your project before you create permanent connections, the next step is to dry fit your components together.
This is helpful in making sure that all of your measurements are correct, and that all of the pieces fit together as you expect before creating a seal that can’t be broken. Often, you’ll find that you might need to make adjustments, file down edges, or need to swap out joints to get the fit and aesthetic you’re trying to achieve.
To do it, simply assemble your project without any adhesive. The pipe will fit in the joints and stay in place thanks to compression, but it won’t be a long-term or particularly secure connection.
During this step, you’ll also want to check the positioning on all of your parts. If everything fits correctly and you’ve made adjustments to get the alignment right, you can use a dry erase marker to mark the spot on each individual pipe where it will connect to the joint.
It’s also helpful to label the joints and pieces as you go so that you remember which goes where when it comes time for the final assembly. You can write the number one on a joint and the corresponding pipe to remind you that piece will go first in the process, two for next one, and so on, to make fast work of the final build.
Once you’ve determined that all of your materials are the right size, you can easily pull the structure apart so that you can begin the gluing process. Sometimes, it might be difficult to remove the pipe from the joint, so you might want to have a rubber mallet or dead blow hammer handy to help you knock the pieces apart.
Step 3: Gluing Setup
Before we go into the details on how to glue PVC pipe, first we will talk about what you need to do to set up for this part of your project. Because the cement has a strong odor and can cause issues if it comes into direct contact with your skin an eyes, you’ll want to take some safety precautions and don some protection equipment to avoid any problems.
You’ll want to wear:
- Safety goggles or glasses
- Gloves that won’t deteriorate whenused with chemicals
- A respirator
You should already have your PVC pipe and joints gathered in your work area, and you’ll want to set up a glue station nearby that includes your primer and cement. Depending on where you’re completing the project, you may want to put a towel or drop cloth down under the liquids to protect the surfaces and flooring.
Gather some rags or paper towels to have on hand in case you have any spills or some of the cement or primer dribbles during the process so that you can wipe it up quickly.
Step 4: Gluing
Gluing PVC together is a two-step process. You’ll first use a primer and then cement to create a waterproof seal that’s virtually indestructible.
Check to make sure that you’ve picked glue that meets your needs for your project. There are dozens of options available that feature a variety of capabilities that are usually grouped by a color code on the packaging.
You can find options that will withstand extreme temperatures, as well as those that will create bonds between different kinds of plastics. Make sure that you’re using the right cement for your project materials and needs before you start.
The first step to gluing is to use the primer solvent to etch the outside of the pipe and the corresponding inside the slot of the pipe fitting. Primer usually comes in one of two colors, clear and purple, but they both will dry clear. Be aware that the purple primer can leave stains on anything it touches other than the pipe, so your clothes or towels could be ruined if you splash or make a mistake.
The primer liquid is thinner than the glue, so be careful when you unscrew the cap not to spill any. Inside the fate cap, you’ll find a brush to use to apply the primer. Dip it in the liquid and run a thin rim on the outside of the PVC pipe and the inside of the corresponding joint where you will insert it.
This is where a mark with a dry erase marker comes in handy. You only need to apply primer from the end of the pipe to the mark so seal it securely in the joint.
Take care to keep the layer thin and avoid any pooling and dripping. Because the liquid isn’t very viscous, it dries extremely quickly, and you only need to wait a few seconds after priming to apply the cement or glue layer.
Cement or Glue
After the pieces are primed, you will then apply a coat of cement to the same areas on the pipe and joint. Use the swab that’s included with the bottle to circle each with a single coat. You’ll want to make sure the area is thoroughly covered, and because the fluid is much more viscous, this will be a thicker layer.
Step 5: Assemble
While the cement is still wet, slide the pipe into the corresponding fitting until you reach your mark. Grip each side firmly in one hand, and give the pieces a one quarter inch turn to spread out the material and ensure a quick, tight cure.
Hold the pieces in place for around 30 seconds to make sure that air pressure doesn’t push the pipe back out or dislodge the piece. After that, you’re safe to wipe off any excess residue and move on to the next pipe and joint in your structure.
Step 6: Let it Dry
Although the initial curing only takes around 30 seconds, you’ll want to give each section 15 minutes of drying time before you move it around or handle it.
After two hours the welds will be complete, and the glue will be dry.