PVC vs Rubber vs Polyurethane Vs Hybrid Air Hose – Pros & Cons

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Video hybrid vs rubber air hose

Choosing the right air compressor hose for your compressed air system can be a difficult task. With so many options, and each offering their own benefits, DIYers often turn to advice to help them come to a decision.

This article will provide you with the pros and cons of PVC, rubber, polyurethane, and hybrid air hoses, along with their suited applications and other hose selection considerations to make your decision a lot easier!

Table of Contents

  • PVC Air Hose
  • Rubber Air Hose
  • Polyurethane Air Hose
  • Hybrid Air Hose
  • Hose Selection Considerations
  • Frequently Asked Questions

PVC Air Hose

PVC air hoses are probably the most affordable air compressor hose available on today’s market. PVC hoses consist of a PVC-compound inner tube and a polyester spiral outer, which allows them to hold their shape. Consequently, making it difficult and possibly impossible to lie them flat.

PVC air hoses are typically stiffer than rubber hoses, making them more difficult to coil and uncoil. They tend to kink which is not desirable, and they easily become inflexible in cold weather conditions.

PVC air hoses are often distributed for free with air compressors, but because of these points, they may be difficult to work with, which is why many DIYers will upgrade their air hose to one of the following materials.

Here’s an example of a PVC air hose readily available on Amazon!

PVC Air Hose Advantages

  • Affordable

PVC Air Hose Disadvantages

  • Stiff
  • Struggle to retain flexibility in cold weather
  • Tend to kink

Rubber Air Hose

Rubber air hoses are typically the most common and readily available air hoses on the market. They consist of synthetic rubber which is reinforced with either braided or spiraled yarn. These types of hoses are very durable, rarely leak, and if they do, it’s generally easy to fix.

Rubber hoses do not kink and coil so easily, which makes them very easy to work with, even when the ambient temperature is cold. Rubber hoses are typically more expensive than other types of air hoses and tend to collect a lot of direct when being dragged across the floor due to their tackiness.

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Here’s an example of a rubber air hose readily available on Amazon!

Rubber Air Hose Advantages

  • Do not kink or coil easily
  • Durable
  • Rarely leak

Rubber Air Hose Disadvantages

  • Heavy
  • More expensive than other types of hose
  • Tacky materials – therefore, collect dirt

Polyurethane Air Hose

Polyurethane air hoses are often confused with PVC air hoses due to their similar appearance. The key difference between the two is that Polyurethane performs far better than PVC.

Polyurethane air hoses are lighter and more flexible than PVC, and they have a very smooth outer layer that allows them to glide across surfaces with ease. Polyurethane hoses are not as flexible as rubber hoses, which makes them susceptible to kinking. Along with this, they also have a relatively high cost among air compressor hoses.

Their qualities make them an ideal choice for working with pneumatic framing or roofing nailers, to allow both freedom of movement and weight distribution.

Here’s an example of a polyurethane air hose readily available on Amazon!

Polyurethane Air Hose Advantages

  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth outer layer – ease of transportation across surfaces

Polyurethane Air Hose Disadvantages

  • Not as durable as rubber
  • High cost
  • Likely to kink

Hybrid Air Hose

Hybrid hoses are a combination of rubber, polyurethane, and PVC. This powerful blend gives them qualities that are similar to rubber but at a lighter weight, essentially making hybrid hoses a lot easier to work with.

Hybrid hoses are very durable, lightweight, and flexible, making them perfect for all types of tasks, from being used with ladders to being used in your garage. Though hybrid hoses aren’t as tacky as rubber, and so, they don’t collect as much dirt, they are more likely to kink after extended periods of use.

Here’s an example of a hybrid air hose readily available on Amazon!

Hybrid Air Hose Advantages

  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Not tacky
  • Perfect for all types of tasks

Hybrid Air Hose Disadvantages

  • Likely to kink after extended periods of usage
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Hose Selection Considerations

Now you have an idea of the different materials available for air hoses, I want to switch attention to the other considerations you must factor in when selecting the right air hose for you. These include:

  • Coiling Capabilities
  • Connections
  • Hose Dimensions
  • Kink Resistance
  • Pressure Rating
  • Temperature Compatibility

Coiling Capabilities

Air compressor hoses either coil in a standard or recoil method. Standard hoses lie flat with no coils or bends, which makes them easy to unroll and stretch flat for maximum length or for storage.

Recoil hoses are ideal for working around a garage or workshop as they have small twists in their hoses, which cause them to recoil backward when the user lets go. Standard hoses can cause tripping hazards but are the ideal choice when operating a nailer because they have a longer maximum length.

Connections

Air compressor hoses typically have threaded ends to allow users to attach quick-release connectors to them, allowing you to switch between different power tools with ease.

You must take consideration into the right-sized quick-release connector for your tools. They are generally available in 1/8″ 1/4″ and 1/2″ sizes and as aluminum or brass. Brass connectors offer better resistance to corrosion and generally are known for more air-tight connections.

Hose Dimensions

First of all, the diameter of the hoses is important to decide how much air the hose is capable of delivering. Hoses range from around 1/4″ to 1/2″ and the right one will typically depend on the size of the air compressor. The most common size air hose is a 3/8″ hose.

Air compressors with high CFM outputs (cubic feet per minute) should use a larger diameter hose while air compressors with low CFM outputs should use a smaller diameter hose. For more information on CFM, visit our guide here!

The hose length is also important in determining which applications the hose can be used for, and how much pressure it will be capable of handling. Most air hoses range from around 5 feet to 60 feet.

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If you require a hose for framing, roofing, painting, or other projects that require you to be a distance from your air compressor, then you will need a lengthier air hose. But, you must be aware that the longer the hose, the greater the pressure drop.

Shorter hoses are better suited to applications like filling truck tires or any other applications that demand higher pressures with sustained use.

Kink Resistance

Air compressor hoses, just like garden hoses, are liable to twisting and kinking when pulled or uncoiled. This can cause a delay in the airflow going through the hose, and may even lead to a burst at the kink if not dealt with.

Rubber hoses resist kinking better than any other type of hose. PVC has the worst of the hoses presented in this article, while hybrid and polyurethane offer good resistance to kinking.

Pressure Rating

Each and every air compressor hose will have a maximum pressure rating, indicating the amount of pressure, PSI (pounds per square inch), the air hose can withstand before breaking.

Typically, manufacturers will recommend an operating pressure for the hose as well as the burst pressure which is the maximum pressure the hose can withstand before bursting. Keep in mind, hoses with higher pressure ratings can handle tougher jobs like inflating truck tires.

Temperature Compatibility

An air compressor’s ability to resist changes in its flexibility typically depends on the different temperatures it’s exposed to. PVC struggle in colder temperatures and become less flexible, making them harder to work with.

In contrast, rubber hoses maintain their flexibility in temperatures that reach well below freezing. Polyurethane and hybrid hoses also are able to retain their flexibility in colder temperatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re wondering how to plumb an air compressor setup, visit our guide!

If you have any questions about PVC, rubber, polyurethane, or hybrid hoses, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>