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Alcobra Metals, Inc. : Distributor of Specialty Metals

Important Information About Pipe & Tube:

Pipe and Tube were not created equal and are definitely not the same!!! How old were you when you learned that a 2" by 4" isn't a piece of wood that measures two inches by four inches. Have you ever been told that 1-1/8" pipe doesn’t exist? Understanding terminology when ordering pipe can save a lot of time, headaches and money!!!

Here are some general items you should know about pipe and tube:


  • Many products in the steel industry have a name that for convenience only approximates the material’s size. These are sometimes referred to as nominal dimensions. Differences and difficulties in correctly ordering a tube and pipe are common in the metal industry. For example: Various "schedules", most commonly Schedule 40 and 80 designate the wall thickness of pipe. The exact wall thickness of any one schedule changes with the pipe size. For example, a 1" sch 40 pipe has a .133" wall thickness, but a 2" sch 40 pipe has a .154" wall thickness.

  • Pipe is a commonly used material in the ornamental iron industry. Pipe was originally used for the movement of water and therefore the ID (inside diameter) was the critical dimension. The nominal dimension for pipe is the ID (inside diameter). For example, 1-1/2 pipe is NOT a 1-1/2 inch OD (outside diameter), but instead is nominally (or approximately) a 1-1/2 inch ID (inside diameter).

  • Pipe fittings are sized to fit pipe sizes but not to fit tube sizes. Therefore a ¾ sch 40 pipe fitting is designed to fit on a ¾ sch 40 pipe, but not on a ¾” OD (outer diameter) tube.