When deciding to build your own dog agility equipment, many folks decide to use PVC. It is inexpensive, readily available at most home centers and can be easily cut to size using basic tools.
One major thing to consider when either purchasing pipe to build your own equipment or purchasing pre-made equipment, is the type of PVC pipe.
Not all PVC is created equal! For this post, we will be discussing the differences between plumbers grade and furniture grade PVC.
Plumbers Grade PVC
This type of pipe is found in almost every home improvement center. It is inexpensive however comes with quite a few negatives in terms of building anything structural (including dog agility equipment).
While inexpensive, this type of pipe is designed to carry potable water for residential and commercial buildings. It is designed to be in dark areas like basements and behind walls. It is not designed to be used outdoors or in direct sunlight as it does not have UV inhibitors. When exposed to sunlight, plumbers pipe will break down and become brittle. It will also begin to yellow and become chalky over time. As mentioned, this style pipe was never designed to be a structural pipe.
The other down side of plumbers pipe is the unsightly lettering that is stamped into it. There are only two ways to remove it, both of which are messy and further degrade a product that was never intended to be used for structural use. One method is to sand off the lettering and the other is to chemically remove it with acetone.
Should I use it?
For and inexpensive alternative to Furniture Grade PVC, it can be used. Care should be taken though not to leave your equipment in the direct sun for prolonged periods of time.
When not in use, you should bring your equipment indoors or put it into a shed or garage for storage. Under no circumstance should plumbers grade PVC be left out in the yard when not in use. Moreover, it is important to remember that plumbers grade pipe is not a structural pipe and should not be used for things like teeter bases, dog walks or anything that will have weight bearing down on the joints as they could crack causing injury.
U.V. Stable or Furniture Grade Pipe
The best option for building dog agility equipment is furniture grade PVC.
There are many benefits to using this type of pipe over schedule 40, plumbers grade pipe from your local home center.
To the left, you will see a sample 4-way joint using UV pipe and fittings.
Furniture Grade PVC or U.V. resistant pipe is specifically designed for building small structures including dog agility equipment. It has many benefits which include:
U.V. (ultraviolet stable) which is designed to be used in direct sunlight
Bright and glossy finish
No unsightly markings to sand or chemically remove
Can easily be cut
Can be purchased in a wide variety of colors
Can be matched to many styles of furniture fittings like 4 and 5 way fittings
The down side is that this type of pipe is more expensive and has to be ordered. It can not be purchased locally in most cases. It does however make for a superior, long lasting product that can be enjoyed for years to come. You can also start your project as soon as the pipe arrives. No need to clean it or sand off the lettering. In some cases, suppliers can cut the pipe to length before shipment for an added charge.
PVC DYE and PAINTING
For some reason recently, many folks have been obsessed with dyeing or wanting to know how to dye their PVC pipe. Others want to paint it. We always ask WHY?!
PVC in any form has an impervious surface. It is not meant to be painted or dyed. That being said, there are many out there reading this thinking "Well I did it and it worked".
While you may be able to physically do it, you will end up with a product that will eventually chip, flake or just plain look ugly! PVC dye is not only expensive but it is a chemical that in many instances has to be cut with another chemical like MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone) which is toxic to breath and touch. By the time you buy the gloves, chemicals, products, pipe, respirator and other tools needed, you could have purchased a far superior product like UV grade PVC pipe in just about any color under the rainbow.
We like furniture grade PVC pipe. It is worth every extra cent once the project is completed. Your finished product will look professional and will last far longer. While the up front cost is a bit more than your standard plumbers pipe, you will have a product that we think you will get much enjoyment out of for years and years to come when cared for properly.
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