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Working with PVC

 

Introduction

 

PVC is a wonderful material for the D-I-Y ( Do It Yourself ) individual. It is durable, light, relatively inexpensive, easy to work with, and makes great agility obstacles / equipment. There are a number of different diameters, weights, and grades of PVC. If you are unfamiliar with PVC, this article provides a brief overview.

 

If this is your first time building an obstacle, we highly recommend purchasing one of our Agility Gear Obstacle Kits. These Kits are available for a variety of obstacles. The Kits include instructions and all the materials except the PVC pipe necessary to build an obstacle. They will save you the time and expense of sourcing small quantities of hard to find components. Kits do not include Acetone, or PVC cement outlined on this website as these materials are optional.

 

PVC Size / Diameter

 
PVC diameter is one indication of PVC strength and is typical referenced to by its inside diameter. For example ¾ inch PVC has an inside diameter ( I.D. ) of ¾ inch and an outside diameter ( O.D. ) of 1 inch. Pay attention if manufacturers are quoting I.D. or O.D. when comparing obstacles. A manufacturer quoting ¾ inch I.D. is comparable to one quoting 1 inch O.D..

 

When choosing an obstacle, a larger PVC size is normally ( especially when supporting weight such as a table ) a plus. Some Venues indicated the appropriate diameter for an obstacle. For example AKC specifications indicate:

·         Weave Poles are to be made out of ¾ inch PVC ( I.D. )

·         Jump Bars ( not uprights / standards ) are to be made out of 1 inch PVC ( I.D.)

Wall Thickness
 
Wall thickness is another indication of PVC strength. Common thicknesses are Thin-wall, Schedule 40, Schedule 80, and Schedule 120.
 
The higher numbers, indicate stronger PVC. Most Agility Obstacles are constructed from Schedule 40 PVC which is durable and typically more than adequate for the task. It is also one of the materials commonly specified by the various Venues.
 

Schedule 80 and 120 are very rarely found in Agility Obstacles.

Lettered / Labeled, Clean-White and Furniture Grade PVC
 
The PVC you find at your local building supply or hardware store will be lettered / labeled as the labeling is required by building codes.
 
Clean-white and furniture grade PVC both have the advantage of being label and letter free. Furniture grade PVC is more UV stable and has a glosser appearance than clean-white PVC. However, expect to pay two to three times the price for furniture grade than lettered PVC.

Furniture grade PVC can be found online from some distributors ( pricey ). Clean-white PVC ( if you’re lucky ) can be sourced directly from a PVC manufacturer but at a premium and only in large quantities ( 2,000 plus feet ).

Given you are probably trying to save a few dollars by building your own obstacles / equipment, our recommendation is to buy schedule 40 lettered PVC from your local building supply or hardware store. If you want a clean-white PVC ( no labels ), follow the Cleaning PVC instructions found on this website.
Have fun!
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