What is PVC?

Polyvinyl Chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl, is a product which is derived from carbon (mainly gas or oil) and common salt and has been commercially produced since 1933.

The PVC manufacturing process follows five main steps:

  • The removal of salt and hydrocarbons.
  • The production of ethylene and chlorine from salt and hydrocarbons.
  • The combining of chlorine and ethylene to produce vinyl chloride monomer.
  • The polymerisation of vinyl chloride monomer to produce PVC.
  • The mixing of PVC polymers with other materials such as plasticisers.

Products made from PVC are very long-lasting – PVC Pipes can last for up to 50 years and roofing and flooring made from PVC can last more than 20 years. This versatile product is widely used in transport, building, electrical, packaging and healthcare industries.

PVC is commonly used in the building and construction industry due to it being an incredibly robust material. This durable product is resistant to the weather, chemical rotting, and corrosion, and most importantly, does not conduct electricity which makes it a vital component for use in high-tech products, including cable and wire.

Over the years, the use of PVC has become increasingly popular in the building and construction industry and is now taking over from some of the more traditional materials used, including metal, concrete, and wood. The advantage of using PVC in construction ahead of the traditional materials is that it is strong yet lightweight, making it simpler to transport, durable and versatile.

Examples of PVC being used in the construction industry include:

  • Window and door profiles and conservatories
  • PVC Strip Curtains
  • Pipes and Fittings
  • Power, data and telecoms, wiring and cables
  • Internal and external cladding
  • Cable and Ducting
  • Roofing Membranes
  • Welding Screens

The use of PVC has a number of benefits for the environment too – the high resistance qualities of PVC mean that no rust will form on plastic, therefore, no rust will soak into the ground or water supply. This is a big plus when using parts underground or for carrying water. The process of manufacturing and the use of plastics on a construction site uses a lot less energy than metals, predominantly because plastics are so much lighter, so the energy used in transportation and construction is much lower.