Absolute roughness is a measure of the surface roughness of a material which a fluid may flow over. Absolute roughness is important when calculating pressure drop particularly in the turbulent flow regime. This article provides some typical absolute roughness values for common conduit materials.


:Absolute roughness


The roughness of pipes, ducts and channels impacts on the flow rates and pressure losses for fluids passing through them. This roughness is generally expressed in units of length as the absolute roughness of the conduit material. For use in calculating the friction factor the absolute roughness is divided by the pipe diameter resulting in the relative roughness.

Pipe Roughness

Absolute Roughness for Common Materials

This table contains typical values of absolute roughness for common construction materials.

MaterialRoughness (mm)
Drawn Tubing, Glass, Plastic0.0015-0.01
Drawn Brass, Copper, Stainless Steel (New)>0.0015-0.01
Flexible Rubber Tubing - Smooth0.006-0.07
Flexible Rubber Tubing - Wire Reinforced0.3-4
Stainless Steel0.03
Wrought Iron (New)0.045
Carbon Steel (New)0.02-0.05
Carbon Steel (Slightly Corroded)0.05-0.15
Carbon Steel (Moderately Corroded)0.15-1
Carbon Steel (Badly Corroded)1-3
Carbon Steel (Cement-lined)1.5
Asphalted Cast Iron0.1-1
Cast Iron (new)0.25
Cast Iron (old, sandblasted)1
Sheet Metal Ducts (with smooth joints)0.02-0.1
Galvanized Iron0.025-0.15
Wood Stave0.18-0.91
Wood Stave, used0.25-1
Smooth Cement0.5
Concrete – Very Smooth0.025-0.2
Concrete – Fine (Floated, Brushed)0.2-0.8
Concrete – Rough, Form Marks0.8-3
Riveted Steel0.91-9.1
Water Mains with Tuberculations1.2
Brickwork, Mature Foul Sewers3

Further Reading

  1. Albright's Chemical Engineering Handbook
  2. Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers 11th Edition
  3. Hydraulics of Pipeline Systems

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