Pipe Schedules and Wall Thickness

What is a pipe schedule?
Pipe schedule is the way pipe wall thickness are designated. Pipes are designed to carry fluid, therefore their internal diameter is a critical dimension in determining how much fluid they can carry. This critical dimension is referred to as the nominal bore, commonly abbreviated as NB. Obviously, for pipes containing pressurised fluids the wall thickness, and by implication the pipe's strength, is important - too thin and the pipe could rupture. Pipe wall thickness is expressed in "schedules", referred to as pipe schedules.

What Standards Govern Pipe Sizes?
In the oil and gas and related down stream industries the most common standards relating to pipe schedule and thickness are;
- ASME / ANSI B36.10 Welded and Seamless Wrought Steel Pipe, and
- ASME / ANSI B36.19 Stainless Steel Pipe

Does Pipe Schedule Change With Pipe Size?
For all steel pipes with the same NB (nominal bore) the outside diameter remains relatively constant. Therefore any variation in piping schedule i.e. wall thickness, affects only the inside diameter. As the pipe schedule number increases, the wall thickness increases, and the actual bore is reduced. For a given schedule, the outside diameter (OD) increases with nominal pipe size (NPS) while the wall thickness stays constant or increases. Using equations and rules in ASME B31.3 Process Piping, it can be shown that pressure rating decreases with increasing NPS and constant schedule.

Pipe Schedule for Stainless Steel Pipe
Stainless steel offers superior corrosion resistance to carbon steel allowing thinner stainless steel pipe wall thickness to be used. ASME introduced different schedule numbers for stainless steel pipe and fittings. Under ASME B36.19 four new pipe schedules with an "S" suffix were introduced for stainless steel pipe. These stainless steel pipe schedules are: 5S, 10S, 40S and 80S.

Wall Thickness for Carbon Steel Pipe Schedule Charts
The wall thickness associated with a particular schedule of pipe depends on the nominal pipe size as can be seen from the pipe schedule wall thickness charts below for some of the more common sizes of carbon steel pipes encountered.
 
Abbreviations used: NB - nominal bore, STD - Standard wall thickness, EH - Extra Heavy wall thickness, DBL EH - Double Extra Heavy wall thickness.

2" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart2 inch pipe schedule chart

 

3" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart3 inch pipe schedule table

 

4" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart4 inch pipe schedule charts

 

 

6" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart6 inch pipe schedule tables

 

8" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart8 inch pipe schedule chart

 

10" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart10 inch pipe schedule table

 

12" NB Pipe Schedule and Wall Thickness Chart12 inch pipe schedule chart

 

Further Reading

For those who want to delve further into the world of piping, then the following books will be of interest: