A guide to pipe clamps

Plastic pipe clamps for installing piping

What is a pipe clamp?

Pipe clamps are supports for suspended pipes, whether vertical or horizontal. They shouldn't be confused with pipe fasteners, which join two pipes together. The job of pipe clamps is to securely hold pipes, while allowing for any movement or expansion to enable the application's maximum performance.

Pipe clips, as they're also called, are typically used in plumbing, heating, drainage and electrical applications and come in a range of different materials. They're also sometimes referred to as pipe clamp brackets, but brackets can also be part of the fixing system, such as pipe support brackets. In this article we cover:

What is a pipe clamp?
How do pipe clamps work?
Applications for pipe clamp fittings
Materials: metal pipe clamps to plastic pipe clips
Stainless steel pipe clamps and brackets

What are pipe fixing systems?

This term simply refers to the components that will work together to support pipes. The system can include clips and clamps, pipe hangers, screws or bolts, anchors, struts and anything else you plan to use. These components are also called pipe clamp fittings. Your system should:

  • Securely attach pipes to your supporting structure
  • Withstand the applied loads
  • Withstand corrosion if installed in a harsh environment
  • Allow for movement and expansion due to heat and cold, if relevant
  • NOT use short pieces of pipework welded to the pipework surface, as these are weak joints

How do pipe clamps work?

The main pipe clamp types have their own subset of clamps. They’re first affixed to a wall, ceiling or support base before securing the pipe.

Standard pipe clamps

Standard pipe clamps

Also called pipe screw clamps, these come in two halves and are secured with two screws or bolts on either side of the clamp. Single-screw standard clamps are also available for faster installation. Typically, standard clamps come in steel. The single-screw variety feature a rubber lining that isolates vibration and provides sound insulation. Styles can also vary. Standard pipe clamp dimensions come in a wide range of sizes, so you should find something to suit your needs.

​Plastic pipe clamps

Plastic pipe clamps

Metal can crack or break plastic pipes if secured too tightly, while plastic provides a softer hold. This makes plastic ideal for softer metals, such as copper plumbing. Plastic clamps and clips work well when pipes are thin and somewhat fragile, or when it’s carrying gas or another lightweight load. With this type, the pipe is put through the clamp and the arm is closed over it. These are also typically quick-release pipe clamps.

Traditional clamps

Traditional clamps

Saddle clamp pipe supports, as shown here, half saddle pipe clamps and U-bolts are traditional clamps that hold steel or copper pipes. Saddles transfer the weight of the pipe to a supporting base. They’re best used when issues such as vibration and insulation aren’t a factor. U-Bolts and other pipe clamp U types are typically used to elevate pipes and are secured to beams and ceilings.

Heavy-duty pipe clamps

Heavy-duty pipe clamps

Designed to support heavy loads and are used both indoors and outdoors. These tend to come in two parts with locking bolts. They’re usually made of steel and some are also lined to reduce noise and isolate sound.

Industrial pipe clamps

Alternatives to pipe-support clamps

You can sometimes use other components as pipe brackets and pipe hanging systems, particularly in the building and service industry.

​Stainless-steel cable ties

Stainless-steel cable ties

Cable ties are ideal for fixing insulation to pipes or working in conjunction with pipe clips, but they can also support the pipes themselves with the aid of cable tie mounts. These are self-locking and easily installed by hand. They are resistant to extreme temperatures and offer great strength and durability. Another good option is strap and buckle cable ties, which has a tensile strength of 350 lbs.

Read more about cable ties in our article: A guide to cable ties

​Steel P-clamps with rubber cushion

Steel P-clamps with rubber cushion

The rubber profile isolates vibration and noise. The steel is zinc plated for corrosion resistance. P-clamps, which are typically used for hose and cable bundles, can serve as small pipe clamps to support lightweight loads. Ideal as an electrical pipe support.

Applications for pipe clamp fittings

Wherever pipes are used, clamps or their alternatives are needed. One clamp can usually work across all applications. We say “usually” because what counts is the diameter of the pipe and the environment where the clamp will go. The table below is a guide to what clamp types are most commonly used for the application.


Clamp type




Heavy duty (for heavy loads)

Plumbing pipe clamps


Drain pipe brackets



Vertical wall mount pipe clamps


Horizontal pipe support


Water line clamps



Radiator pipe clips


Waste pipe clips



Sewer pipe clamps


Materials: metal pipe clamps to plastic pipe clips

Choosing the right clamps involves considering the material. That choice will be dictated by the material of the pipe. Metals are best at tolerating high temperatures, but connecting different metals to each other will cause galvanic corrosion.

For example, don’t use a stainless-steel clamp on a copper pipe. Contact between these two dissimilar metals causes a reaction. There is no universal agreement as to which metal causes the corrosion, but that it happens is a fact.

Plastic hose clamps

Brass pipe clips with stainless steel pipes

Or, stainless steel clips with brass pipes – what we’re talking about here is how the metals react. Some stainless steels can work with brass. It depends on the grade of the stainless steel. These are the grades that tend to work well with brass:

  • 301
  • 304
  • 310

You can learn more about this topic in Understanding stainless steel grades.

Brass pipe clamps add an aesthetic touch, but they’re also corrosion resistant, which makes them a good choice for exposed pipes.

Stainless steel pipe clamps and brackets

Stainless steel famously resists corrosion. It also offers excellent wear resistance. Do not use stainless steel with carbon steel, as this will cause galvanic corrosion. If you’re planning on using it with brass pipes, see the subsection above, Brass pipe clips with stainless steel pipes.

Copper pipe clips

You already know you shouldn’t use copper with any stainless steels. Copper pipe clips are best used with plastic or domestic copper pipes. Like brass, copper won’t corrode, and they’re an appealing option if aesthetics are relevant.

Steel pipe clamps

Corrosion is a fact of life, but you can slow it down. Most steel clamps are zinc plated to resist corrosion. These clamps are ideal for steel tubes, cast-iron tubes and for use with insulated pipe supports. Steel clamps have a hard grip on pipes, so if you need flexibility, consider another material for your clamp. These clamps often use threaded rod, a component you can learn more about in our Guide to threaded rods.

Plastic pipe clamps

Ideal when your pipes need a degree of flexibility, as needed when movement or expansion occurs due to heat or cold. These clamps come in a range of plastics, from nylon 6/6 to PVC. Of course, PVC pipe is used the world over, and a plastic clamp is ideal, as it provides a softer grip.

Download free CADs and try before you buy

Free CADs are available for most solutions, which you can download. You can also request free samples to make sure you’ve chosen exactly what you need. If you’re not quite sure which solution will work best for your application, our experts are always happy to advise you.

Whatever your requirements, you can depend on fast despatch. Request your free samples or download free CADs now.


Email us at sales@essentracomponents.com or speak to one of our experts for further information on the ideal solution for your application 800-847-0486.