When working with PVC pipes, having the right cement is crucial for creating strong, lasting joints. Two of the most common options are all purpose cement and PVC cement. But when should you use one over the other?
All purpose cement is a versatile, multi-material adhesive, while PVC cement is specially formulated for PVC plastic. Each has advantages and limitations depending on the specifics of your project. Evaluating drying time, bond strength, chemical resistance and cost will help determine which is the better choice.
In this article, we’ll compare the composition, strengths, and weaknesses of all purpose vs PVC cements. We’ll also discuss optimal uses cases, proper application techniques, and frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Here is an in-depth comparison table for all purpose cement vs pvc cement
|All Purpose Cement
|Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) solvent
|Tetrahydrofuran (THF) solvent, PVC resin
|24 hours or longer
|Ideal Use Cases
|Small jobs, temporary repairs, multi-material projects
|PVC to PVC joints, permanent installations, chemical resistance needed
|High fumes require ventilation
|Apply thin layer to both surfaces
|Apply thicker for full melt and fuse
|Low-moderate, prone to leaks under pressure
|Excellent, withstands high pressure
|Moderate, softens at warm temperatures
|Maintains bond in warm temperatures
|Low, bonds weaken with UV exposure
|High, not affected by UV light
|Clear or purple tinted gel
What is All Purpose Cement?
All purpose cement, also called multi-purpose cement, is designed to bond to a variety of materials including plastic, PVC, ABS, fiberglass and some metals.
The active ingredient in all purpose cement is methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) solvent. MEK dissolves the surfaces of materials like plastics and PVC to create a chemical bond when the solvents evaporate. All purpose cements also contain fillers like silicon dioxide to adjust drying time.
- Can bond multi-material projects with plastic, PVC, ABS, fiberglass, etc.
- Fast drying time forms initial bonds in just a few minutes
- Lower cost than specialized glues and cements
- Not as strong on plastics like PVC compared to PVC cement
- Joints more likely to fail under pressure or tension
- Not resistant to chemicals like PVC cement
- Messier than PVC cement’s gel formula
What is PVC Cement?
PVC cement is specifically engineered to chemically fuse PVC plastic pipes and fittings together to create lasting joints.
The main ingredients in PVC cement are tetrahydrofuran (THF) solvent, PVC resin, and additives like primer, thickener, or colorant. The THF solvent melts the PVC surfaces and the resin integrates into the bond.
- Creates incredibly strong, permanent joints for PVC pipes
- Withstands high pressure without leakage or failure
- Bonds last the lifetime of the piping system
- Resistant to chemicals transported through PVC pipes
- Thick gel formula creates neater bonds
- Can only be used to bond PVC materials together
- Significantly slower cure time than all purpose cement
- More expensive than all purpose cement
- Fumes require proper ventilation
Key Differences Between All Purpose and PVC Cements
Now that we’ve covered the basics of each cement’s composition and performance, let’s compare some of the key differences between using all purpose vs PVC cement.
All purpose cement dries extremely fast, forming initial bonds in just 2-5 minutes. This allows for quick repairs or installations. PVC cement has a much slower cure time, taking 24 hours or longer to fully set. The bond gets reasonably strong in the first few hours though.
PVC cement forms the strongest bond with PVC pipes, even withstanding significant pressure. All purpose cement bonds are more prone to leakage and failure when pressure is applied.
PVC cement maintains its integrity when exposed to chemicals transported in PVC pipe systems. All purpose cement can be degraded by certain chemical compounds like solvents.
General all purpose cement is the more budget friendly option. PVC cement carries a higher price tag because of its special formulation.
When to Use All Purpose Cement
Given its versatility and quick drying time, all purpose cement has a place on many jobs. Here are some of the top uses cases:
For minor PVC repairs like patching a leak or securing loose joints, all purpose cement works fine. The small scale means less exposure to pressure.
If you need a quick fix on PVC or a multi-material joint until a permanent solution is implemented, all purpose cement can bridge the gap.
When bonding materials like PVC and ABS plastic together, all purpose cement is the better choice for bridging different materials.
When to Use PVC Cement
For permanent PVC systems carrying chemicals or high pressure, PVC cement is the optimal adhesive. Key uses cases include:
PVC to PVC Joints
Any joints connecting PVC components like pipe, elbows, tees etc should be bonded with PVC cement. It creates superior PVC-to-PVC bonds.
For PVC plumbing systems or chemical drainage pipes in industrial facilities, PVC cement makes permanent, chemical resistant joints.
Chemical Resistance Needed
In pipe systems carrying chemicals, solvents, acids or corrosive compounds, PVC cement maintains integrity under exposure.
Proper Application Techniques for Each Type of Cement
To get a reliable bond, using the right techniques when applying all purpose or PVC cement is crucial. Here are some tips:
The surfaces to be bonded must be cleaned and sanded for maximum adhesion. Remove any dirt, oils or debris. Sanding the mating surfaces exposes fresh PVC material.
For all purpose cement, apply a thin, even layer on both surfaces. Too much can weaken the joint. PVC cement should be applied thicker to fully melt and fuse the PVC together.
Allow proper cure time before disturbing the joint. All purpose cement takes just minutes, while PVC cement needs hours or longer. Insufficient curing can compromise strength.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is all purpose cement waterproof?
No, joints made with all purpose cement are not waterproof. The bond is susceptible to moisture degradation over time. Use PVC cement for waterproof joints.
Can I use all purpose cement on ABS?
Yes, all purpose cement bonds well to ABS plastic. It works on PVC, ABS, acrylic, fiberglass and some metals.
Is PVC cement toxic?
PVC cement contains volatile solvents that can be toxic if inhaled. Work in a well ventilated area and avoid prolonged exposure to fumes.
How long does PVC cement take to cure?
PVC cement reaches an initial cure in about 2 hours. But full bond strength takes 24-72 hours to develop. Avoid stressing the joint before fully cured.
Can I use PVC cement on CPVC?
No, PVC cement will not bond CPVC plastic. Use a cement specially formulated for CPVC like Christy’s Red Hot Blue Glue.
When comparing all purpose vs PVC cements, there are distinct trade-offs in bonding strength, drying time, chemical resistance and cost. All purpose cement serves as a quick, affordable option for minor PVC repairs and multi-material bonds. But for robust, permanent PVC systems, PVC cement is specially engineered to create superior joints that last. Just be sure to use the right product for the application and apply it properly.