Copper may still be the commonest choice for supply pipework, but plastic pipes are now used universally for waste and soil pipes. They are also becoming increasingly popular, especially with do-it-yourself plumbers, for all new supply and waste pipework within the home because of their ease of use.
The smaller diameters are used for waste pipes running from appliances such as baths, basins and sinks, and also for overflow pipes from storage and WC cisterns and oil boilers that require a service. Larger sizes are used for soil pipes from WCs and for the vertical stacks that carry soil and waste water to the underground drains.
As with copper pipe, it is important to cut plastic piping carefully so that the ends are square and free from swarf and will seat properly in the fittings used to connect lengths together. However, the material is much easier to cut than copper and there is not the same risk of deforming it as you do so.
What to do
You can cut all types of plastic piping with any fine-toothed saw; a tenon saw is ideal for smaller sizes because its wide blade makes it easier to ensure a square cut, but you can use a hacksaw instead, or even an electric jigsaw. A panel saw is a better bet for large-diameter soil and drainage pipes.
To guide the cut, wrap masking tape or a piece of paper round the pipe in line with the cutting mark and hold it securely in a vice or Workmate. When the cut is almost complete, rotate the pipe so you can finish the cut from the opposite side. Then use abrasive paper or wire wool to remove any plastic swarf and to leave the pipe end perfectly smooth.
The makers of polybutylene pipe recommend the use of their own special pipe secateurs, although a fine-toothed saw or serrated kitchen knife can be used just as effectively.