Types of Flexible Tubing for Water

Written by rebecca burdick
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Types of Flexible Tubing for Water
Flexible water tubing comes in many varieties. (hose image by Ni Chun from Fotolia.com)

Flexible tubing that can carry water is required in many applications. There are many varieties available, and choosing the right tubing can be difficult. Many types of tubing can withstand very little pressure, but are very easy to work with. The tubing that can withstand greater pressures is more difficult to install or use in projects.

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Flexible Plastic Pipe

Flexible plastic pipe is the common name for piping used outdoors for cold water sprinkler systems. It is made of polythene plastic and is black. It comes in a variety of sizes. The larger sizes will carry enough water to supply a lawn or yard watering system. Smaller diameter tubes are used for drip systems or small misting systems. The pipe is joined using PVC connections and hose barb-type fittings, in addition to hose clamps. Flexible plastic pipe is not intended for drinking water or hot water.


PEX (cross-linked polythene) is a type of tubing typically used for indoor plumbing. PEX can carry both hot and cold water, and is safe to use for drinking water. It is convenient in that it can be woven through walls, and that it can be colour coded to identify whether it is carrying hot or cold water. It is connected to fitting using compression connectors rather than hose barbs.

Woven Jacket Rubber Hose

This type of hose consists of a rubber tube surrounded by woven filaments of various materials. This is the type of hose most commonly recognised as a fire hose. The hose or pipe consists of a rubber tube made of various rubbers. The rubber used depend on what the tube will be used for. Different rubbers leak different compounds into the water, or are resistant to different chemicals that may be piped within. The rubber tube is then covered with woven strands of fibre. The fibres are meant to reinforce and give strength to the pressures coming from within the tube. The real strength of this type of hose comes from the woven jacket. Over the years the materials used to make the weave have changed from simple cotton to advanced plastic to steel wire.

Latex Tubing

Latex tubing is commonly referred to as surgical tubing. Latex tubing can be made with natural latex or synthetic materials. The tubing walls and inside diameters vary widely. This type of tubing cannot withstand much internal pressure without stretching, but it is often made to do just that. The material is extremely flexible and is usually attached to fittings using hose barbs or hose clamps or both.

Woven Rubber tubing

Rubber tubes can be made with woven fibres in the centre of the pipe wall. As with woven jacket hose, the fibres inside can be of many different materials. This is the type of hose most commonly seen as an automotive radiator hose. They are flexible, but not extremely so. The woven fibres inside can provide great resistance to internal pressures. The type of rubber used determines the heat withstanding ability, and the chemical resistance.

Flexible Metal Hose

This type of material is best described by comparison. The hose is comprised of tube that has an alternating series of expanded and contracted segments. You would most likely recognise the type of hose if you have a gas stove, heater, dryer, water heater, or other gas heated appliance. The type of gas line used to feed gas to those appliances can also be used to run water. You may even have one feeding cold water to your toilet or a sink.

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