Pipes Versus Tubes – Is There a Difference?

If you take a look at the expansive list of items we carry, you’ll see, among many other products, that we carry tubes and pipes in a variety of materials and forms (to be more precise, we carry at least 7 different tubes and a minimum of 5 different pipes). And at first glance they appear to be the identical – the same product with multiple names, perhaps? And it’s true that many people may believe tubes and pipes are interchangeable. However, tubes and pipes are inherently unlike and serve different purposes. So how are you to know which to pick for your project?

For your reference, here is a breakdown of the uses and characteristics of each item:


  • Tubes can be round, square, or rectangular
  • Tubes are always considered to be stronger than pipes. Tubing is often used in structural applications due to its strength and longevity
  • When precision is important, such as with automotive and engineering applications, tubing is more often used
  • When ordering, it’s important to understand that tubes are usually calibrated in regards to the diameter and wall thickness, and this measurement can be in millimeters or inches. For planning purposes, you will need to calculate the difference between the outside diameter and the wall thickness – this result will tell you the diameter of the tube
  • Tubing can be ordered in various wall thicknesses, depending on what your job requires
  • The twisted tubes we offer can be used in heat distribution applications
  • The ends of tubes often have grooves or are threaded to aid in connection
  • The galvanized tubes at AZ Iron Supply have a zinc coating, making them more durable and resistant to rusting


  • Pipes are only available in the traditional round shape
  • While tubes are often used for structural purposes, pipes are often used for transporting liquids or gases
  • Pipes are manufactured more quickly and easily, and are therefore lower priced than tubes
  • Pipe size is often identified in terms of NPS (normal pipe size), and sometimes DN (bore size). Pipes are measured in terms of their interior diameter, and this conveys its fluid capacity
  • For a pipe that has a named NPS, the its outer diameter will be a constant. However, the thicker the wall, the smaller the interior diameter will be
  • Pipes tend to have plain, beveled finishes and edges

Still unsure about what item is the best for your project? Or still have questions about the differences between pipes and tubes? That’s why AZ Iron is truly your one-stop shop for all of your Arizona metal needs. Not only do we boast an incredible selection of pipes, tubes, sheeting, beams, and more, but our team is comprised of experts in the industry, ready to help you and answer questions. There’s no order too big or too small. We invite you to visit our warehouse, meet us in person, and learn exactly why AZ Iron Supply is the best in the industry.