schedule 40 steel pipe

What is schedule 40 steel pipe?

03.22.2022

Schedule 40 steel pipe is the most commonly used pipe schedule. It can be galvanized — although it doesn’t have to be — and is usually used in water and gas lines. It may also appear in places that need ornamentation or support.

It makes a great pipe due to its versatility and performance strength. With schedule 40 steel pipe under so much pressure to perform, let’s talk about what it is and why it can be the right choice for many projects.

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What Is a Pipe Schedule?

A pipe schedule (SCH) is a measure of a steel pipe’s nominal wall thickness.

In the past, metal fabricators used three pipe dimensions — standard, extra strong, and double extra strong. Just having these three undetermined dimensions wasn’t helpful, though. So today, steel pipes come in 14 different schedules.

The most commonly used one is schedule 40.

Why is it called schedule 40 pipe?

The pipe numbers are non-dimensional. In other words, SCH 40 doesn’t mean the pipe is 40 millimeters or 40 inches in diameter.

schedule 40 steel pipe

The parameters for each schedule are determined by the ASME B36.10M, which is the standard governing seamless and welded steel pipe dimensions. ASME B36.10M determines the numbers that designate each size.

Grades of Schedule 40 Steel Pipe

Most schedule 40 steel pipe is made from mild steel. This means it has a carbon content of about 0.2% to 0.25%. That’s very, very low, making the alloy mostly ferrous in composition.

To improve SCH 40 steel pipe’s corrosion resistance, steel manufacturers usually galvanize the steel, which means to plate it with a layer of zinc. If this option is not appropriate, schedule 40 pipe does come in stainless steel.

A53 steel pipe is the grade most commonly associated with SCH 40 steel pipe, but you can also find this schedule in other grades.

Schedule 40 Steel Pipe Dimensions

Thicknesses are measured by both wall thickness and outside diameter. As an example, a 1/8th-inch nominal size schedule 40 pipe has an outside diameter of 0.405 and a wall thickness of 0.068. Its weight per foot stands at 0.245.

A more common pipe is the 4-inch schedule 40 steel pipe. This pipe’s outside diameter is 4.5 with a wall thickness of 0.237 and a weight per foot of 10.79.

What size is schedule 40 steel pipe?

This steel pipe product comes in a variety of dimensions. The size of the pipe, its nominal diameter, actual inside diameter, and actual outside diameter all fit within the right parameters.

For example, a schedule 40 pipe that’s 2.5 inches in diameter will be 2.469 in actual inside diameter and 2.875 in actual outside diameter.

At Kloeckner, we can supply or cut schedule 40 steel pipes in nearly any length you need.

The Weight of Schedule 40 Steel Pipe

As a general rule, the weight per foot stands around 1.68 lbs.

How much weight can schedule 40 steel pipe hold?

How much weight it can hold depends on a variety of factors. If you buy a standard pipe — A53-grade, black steel — it will demonstrate 30,000 psi yield strength.

Given that information…

Let’s say you’re using a one-inch pipe over a four-foot span. The middle should hold 300 lbs with a one-quarter inch permanent deflection. Add another 50 lbs to that pipe, and it will fold up on you.

Chemical Composition of Schedule 40 Steel Pipe

Schedule 40 pipe refers to the nominal wall thickness, not the grade. Therefore, the chemical composition of a pipe schedule is not necessarily uniform.

However, schedule 40 pipe is made from low-carbon steel, usually grade A53 steel pipe. Its chemical composition also varies across types and welds, but as a point of reference, type S seamless weld A53 steel looks something like this:

  • Carbon – 0.25% (max)
  • Manganese – 0.95% (max)
  • Phosphorous – 0.05% (max)
  • Sulfur – 0.045% (max)
  • Copper – 0.4% (max)
  • Nickel – 0.4% (max)
  • Chromium – 0.4% (max)
  • Molybdenum – 0.15% (max)
  • Vanadium – 0.08% (max)

Difference Between Schedule 40 and Schedule 80 Pipe

Schedule 40 and schedule 80 pipes are very similar. They are so much alike, in fact, that some people conflate the two.

In truth, however, schedule 40 pipe has thinner walls than schedule 80. Consequently, schedule 80 can handle higher pressures than schedule 40, so it’s generally used for commercial applications.

How to know if schedule 40 pipe can handle the pressure

A mathematical formula can help you determine if schedule 40 or schedule 80 is right for your project.

SCH = (1,000)*(P/S)

In this equation, P equals the pipe’s internal working pressure, and S stands for how much stress the material can endure.

As an example, if your pipe has an internal working pressure of 450 psi and an S value of 12,000, then your equation would look like this:

(1,000) *(450/12,000) = 37.5

37.5 is very close to SCH 40 so you should be safe choosing that schedule.

Industries That Use Sch 40 Steel Pipe

Many industries use SCH 40 steel pipe, especially industries that need to supply air, gas, and water at high temperatures. This schedule pipe also sees a lot of use in construction work where its diameter, strength, and reactivity make it a reliable choice.

Applications of Sch 40 Steel Pipe

Most hardware stores sell schedule 40 steel pipes. Many DIYers enjoy using this product in creative projects. Schedule 40 steel pipe makes sturdy and attractive curtain rods, shelves, coat hooks, floor lamps, and magazine racks.

schedule 40 steel pipe

Of course, schedule 40 pipe’s primary application is transporting high-temperature, high-pressure liquids for commercial and residential properties in the oil and gas industry.

Schedule 40 Steel Pipe Prices

Schedule 40 steel pipe prices vary tremendously and depend on factors such as length, grade, and volume at purchase. If you buy a high volume of pipe directly from a company that offers quality fabrication services, such as Kloeckner Metals, your costs will run much lower than if you went to Home Depot for the same product.

To learn more about other kinds of steel pipe, steel tube, and steel plate products, take a look through our library of articles or contact us directly.

Contact Our Qualified Team

Kloeckner Metals is a full-line steel pipe and tube supplier and service center. Kloeckner Metals combines a national footprint with cutting-edge fabrication and processing technologies and most innovative customer service solutions.

Contact Us Now

Natalie Spira
Natalie Spira is Kloeckner's Marketing Communications Manager. Previously, she was the CEO and Founder of Fraction Marketing, a marketing agency catering to ecommerce startups. Natalie holds a MBA from Tel Aviv University with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing and a BA in English from UCLA.

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