Types of Steel Tubing

Type K copper tubing is manufactured in many diameters.
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Manufacturers produce several different types of steel tubes including plumbing tubes and stainless steel tubes. Steel piping is not the same as steel tubing. Steel pipes and steel tubes are designed for different applications. Steel tubing can be constructed with or without seams. However, seamless steel tubing is almost always more expensive than seamed steel tubing.


Plumbing tubes and stainless steel tubes are some of the most widely used types of tubing available. Steel plumbing tubes are designed for purposes in potable water distribution, underground water service, medical gas service, radiant heating, oil distribution systems and drainage systems. They are also often used for underground water service applications. Stainless steel tubing is employed in the electronics, aviation, marine and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) industries because it is resistant to corrosion and high temperatures. The purity of a material is not compromised after being drawn through stainless steel tubing. Chemical plants, paper mills and food processing plants widely employ stainless steel tubing.


Plumbing tubes are made with relatively thin wall structures. These tubes must be joined through crimping, soldering or other means. Galvanized steel plumbing tubes were widely employed up until the early 1960s. The only shortcoming associated with this type of plumbing tube is that the interior may corrode over time and damage or clog the tube. Galvanized steel plumbing tubes will typically last for up to 40 years with regular use. Stainless steel tubing is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making it ideal tubing for many applications. This type of tubing gets its corrosion-resistant qualities from the chromium used in its construction.

Pipe and Tubing

Piping sizes indicate the inside diameter of a pipe. A pipe’s schedule indicates wall thickness. Tubing sizes indicate the outside diameter of the tube. Steel tubing can be manufactured with diameters that range from 1/8 inch to over 12 inches. A tube’s gauge indicates the wall thickness of the tube; typical steel tubing measures between .035 and 2 inches thick. Steel tubing is available in many lengths and can easily be cut to custom lengths. Steel tubing can be manufactured out of different grades of steel such as stainless steel and steel alloys.

Seamed and Seamless

Most types of steel tubing can be constructed with or without seams. However, the price of seamless steel tubing can be anywhere from two to four times more than the price of seamed steel tubing. To create seamed steel tubing, steel sheets are formed into tubes and welded along the abutment. Extruding steel into a tube shape is one way to create steel tubing with no seams.

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