What is the difference between black and blue MDPE pipes?

MDPE stands for medium-density polyethylene.

It’s a robust, heavy-duty material that’s typically used to connect mains water supplies to homes and businesses.

The toughness of MDPE allows these pipes to be used underground – supplying drinking water or gas from an external source to wherever it is required. 

MDPE pipes are color-coded to the services that they carry, making it easier for you to identify them (i.e. blue for drinking water, black for non-drinking water, yellow for gas, etc).


Why are MDPE pipes used?

MDPE pipes are often used in homes and commercial buildings as a replacement for copper and lead pipes.

Unlike the traditional materials that were used to carry water, MDPE is lightweight and flexible, making it easier to install and helping to keep installation costs low.

MDPE pipes are also resistant to shocks and cracks. They can withstand changes in pressure and won’t lose their shape when they come under stress.

MDPE can withstand temperature changes, too, making it suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Water is less likely to freeze inside the pipes in winter, ensuring an adequate supply of water.

Below, we take a look at the different MDPE pipes on offer, particularly the black and blue ones.

Black MDPE pipes

Black MDPE pipes carry non-potable (non-drinking) water.

They are perfect for irrigation and water features, and can also be used at sewage treatment plants to pump foul, grey, and surface water.

However, a black MDPE pipe is not suitable for hot water. It should only have cold water flowing through it.

Black MDPE water pipes are usually available in coils of 25m, 50m, 100m, and 150m, and range from 20-63mm in diameter.

Blue MDPE pipes

Blue MDPE pipes are used for carrying potable (drinking) water below ground.

Unlike copper, MDPE is a non-chemically reactive material that will not corrode.

Some materials are prone to a variety of naturally occurring substances, such as fungi or algae, but this isn’t the case with blue medium-density polyethylene pipes. Luckily, unwanted bacteria won’t build up and contaminate the freshwater supply.

Sold in coils of 25m, 50m, 100m, and 150m, and sizes ranging from 20-63mm, you’re sure to find the blue MDPE water pipes you need.

MDPE (Medium Density Polyethylene) pipes are commonly used in the transportation of gas and water. They are renowned for their durability, flexibility, and resistance to corrosion. The color differentiation in MDPE pipes, like black and blue, serves a functional purpose beyond aesthetics. Here are the fundamental differences between black and blue medium-density polyethylene pipes:

Material Composition:

Both black and blue MDPE pipes are made from the same material—medium-density polyethylene pipes. The difference lies in the additives used during their production. The color pigments or compounds added to the raw material give each type of pipe its distinct color.


Black MDPE pipes are primarily used for carrying water, while blue MDPE pipes are typically designated for underground gas distribution. This color-coding aids in easy identification and segregation of the pipes, ensuring they are used for their designated purposes.

Regulatory Compliance:

The color differentiation is often in line with industry standards or regulations. For instance, the UK’s gas industry commonly uses blue MDPE medium-density polyethylene pipes for gas distribution, conforming to the established color codes as per safety regulations. Black pipes, on the other hand, are more commonly associated with water supply systems.

UV Resistance:

Black MDPE pipes usually contain carbon black additives, providing them with enhanced UV resistance. This makes them more suitable for outdoor or above-ground applications. Blue MDPE pipes might not possess the same level of UV resistance, as they are primarily intended for buried or underground use.

Visibility and Safety:

The color variation aids in visibility and safety. For instance, blue pipes used for gas are easily distinguishable, allowing workers and contractors to identify the type of pipes they are working with, reducing the risk of errors in installation or maintenance.

Diameter and Sizing:

Both black and blue MDPE medium-density polyethylene pipes are available in various diameters and sizes. Their dimensions and specifications often depend on the intended use, and color coding helps in the quick identification of the specific size required for a particular application.

Market Practices:

Market preferences and practices can also play a role in color coding. While black and blue are common differentiators, other regions or manufacturers might use different colors for the same purposes based on local standards or preferences.

In summary, while both black and blue medium-density polyethylene pipes are made of the same material, their color variation is essential for differentiating their specific use cases, complying with safety regulations, and aiding in their installation and maintenance. Understanding these color codes is crucial in the construction and maintenance of water and gas distribution systems to ensure safety, proper installation, and functionality.

Purchase top-quality MDPE pipes online

Whether you’re a homeowner or tradesperson, it’s important to purchase MDPE pipes from a reputable company like Build Plumb Plastics.

They supply an extensive range of black and blue MDPE pipes – including a choice of sizes and coil lengths – and their team can assist you in choosing the most suitable products for your application.

Their products are manufactured to an exceptionally high standard, and priced competitively, too.

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