4 Different Types of Flexible Water Supply Tubes and How to Choose One

Selecting the right flexible water supply tube is crucial for ensuring your plumbing fixtures function properly and last a long time. There are several types of flexible supply tubes to choose from, each with their own advantages and ideal uses. This guide will outline the four main types of flexible water supply tubes and provide tips on how to select the best option for your needs.

Stainless Steel Flexible Water Supply Tubes

Stainless steel flexible supply tubes are one of the most durable and long-lasting options. Here are some key things to know about stainless steel flexible water supply lines:


  • Made of stainless steel exterior with a polymer inner tubing.
  • Extremely strong yet still flexible.
  • Resists corrosion, mineral deposits, and abrasion.
  • Provides protection against bursting and leakage.
  • Often covered by extensive warranties of 10-25 years.


  • Very long lifespan – can last 20 years or more with proper installation.
  • Can withstand high water pressures.
  • Inner tubing is lead-free.
  • Handles hot and cold water temperatures.
  • Easy to install push-to-connect or compression fittings.
  • Available in a variety of lengths.

Use Cases

Ideal for:

  • Kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, tubs, showers.
  • Connections that need high durability and longevity.
  • Areas prone to mineral build-up and corrosion.
  • Hot water lines.
  • High water pressure applications.


Stainless steel flexible supply tubes have a higher upfront cost than other materials, but their extreme longevity makes them cost-effective over time. Expect to pay $15-$30 for a stainless steel supply line.

Braided Polymer Flexible Supply Tubes

Braided polymer flexible supply tubes consist of an inner polymer tube covered by a stainless steel mesh. Here’s an overview:


  • Inner tubing made of polymer or resin.
  • Outer stainless steel braiding provides strength.
  • Resists corrosion and abrasion.
  • Handles hot and cold water.
  • Range of warranty options up to limited lifetime.


  • Prevents kinks in the supply line.
  • Provides protection against bursting.
  • Less expensive than full stainless steel.
  • Compression or push-to-connect fittings.
  • Easy to install.

Use Cases

Ideal for:

  • Standard bathroom and kitchen installations.
  • Hot and cold water lines.
  • Tight spaces where kinking may occur.


Braided polymer supply tubes cost $5-$15 on average depending on length and fittings. Less expensive than stainless steel.

PEX Flexible Supply Lines

PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is a flexible plastic tubing commonly used in water supply lines. Key features:


  • Made from flexible PEX plastic tubing.
  • Chlorine-resistant.
  • Can handle hot and cold water temperatures.
  • Resists corrosion and build-up.
  • Pre-attached compression or push-to-connect fittings.


  • Very flexible tubing material.
  • Easy to install around corners and bends.
  • Inexpensive supply line option.
  • Available in wide range of sizes.
  • Handles temperature fluctuations.

Use Cases

Ideal for:

  • Tight plumbing routes with lots of corners.
  • Hot and cold water lines.
  • Standard sink and toilet supply lines.
  • Temporary repairs and installations.


PEX supply tubes are an affordable option, ranging from $2-$10 on average depending on length and fittings.

Vinyl Flexible Supply Tubes

Vinyl is the most basic and economical flexible supply tube material. Here are its characteristics:


  • Made of flexible vinyl plastic tubing.
  • Covered with a braided layer for strength.
  • Lead-free connectors.
  • Simple compression or push-to-connect fittings.


  • Very inexpensive option.
  • Easy to install and cut to length.
  • Flexible for working around tight spaces.

Use Cases

Best for:

  • Low pressure water lines.
  • Temporary or basic repairs.
  • Shorter supply lines for sinks or toilets.


Vinyl supply tubes are the cheapest option, usually $2-$5 depending on length and fittings.

Choosing the Right Flexible Supply Line

When selecting a flexible supply tube, consider these criteria:

  • Application – Kitchen, bathroom, utility, hot or cold water line? Match tubing material to water temperatures.
  • Water Pressure – Choose sturdier supply lines if water pressures exceed 80 psi. Stainless steel recommended for high pressure.
  • Ease of Installation – Look for pre-attached push-to-connect or compression fittings for easy installation.
  • Tubing Material – Stainless steel supply tubes offer maximum durability. PEX lines provide flexibility.
  • Length – Measure required distance and get supply tube 2-3 inches longer to allow for adjustment.
  • Warranty – Compare warranties. Stainless steel and braided polymer lines often have 10+ year warranties.
  • Cost – Stainless steel costs the most, followed by braided polymer and PEX. Vinyl is the most economical.

Properly installed flexible supply tubes can provide years of reliable service. Pay close attention to matching the right supply tube material and strength for the specifics of your plumbing application.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flexible Water Supply Tubes

What are the signs that it’s time to replace a flexible water supply tube?

Signs that indicate it’s time to replace a flexible supply tube include water leaking from fittings, bulging or bursting of the tubing, sudden drops in water pressure, flaking or corrosion on the tubing exterior, and excessive kinking or wearing of the tubing.

How do I avoid kinks in flexible water supply lines?

To prevent kinks, ensure there is no sharp bending of the tubing, install tubing without twisting, provide enough slack in the line, and use tubing material like braided polymer that resists kinking. Avoid excess tension on the line.

What temperature ranges can flexible supply tubes handle?

Most flexible supply tubes can handle temperatures from 40 to 180°F, with stainless steel rated for up to 200°F. Check manufacturer specs to confirm temperature ratings for hot water applications.

Can I bury flexible supply tubes underground?

Flexible supply tubes are not rated for underground burial. They are intended for indoor installation only. Use copper, CPVC, or PEX tubing rated for underground use instead.

How much water pressure can flexible supply tubing withstand?

Depends on material – stainless steel can handle over 200 psi, while basic vinyl tubes are only rated to around 70 psi. Check manufacturer maximum pressure ratings when selecting supply tubing.

How long do flexible supply lines last?

With proper installation, stainless steel and braided polymer tubes can last 20+ years, while basic vinyl and PEX lines last 8-15 years typically. Failures usually occur due to improper installation.

What’s the proper way to install a flexible supply tube?

Steps include pre-cutting the tube to the right length, securing compression nuts evenly without overtightening, positioning the tube to avoid kinks and bends, and inspecting washers to ensure proper seals.

Is it OK to use plumber’s tape on flexible supply tube fittings?

Yes, using plumber’s tape like Teflon tape can provide an extra layer of protection against leaks on supply tube fitting threads. Wrap tape clockwise on male threads before connecting.

Can I install flexible supply tubes myself?

Yes, flexible supply tubes are designed for straightforward do-it-yourself installation. Ensure water is shut off, read fitting instructions, allow slack in the tube, and avoid overtightening connections.


Installing the right flexible water supply tubes ensures efficient water flow to your fixtures while preventing leaks, bursts, and water pressure issues. Stainless steel and braided polymer tubing provide maximum durability for the long haul. PEX is ideal for flexibility around tight corners. And vinyl works well for basic low-pressure applications. Measure your required lengths, match tubing material to your water temperatures and pressures, and take care to avoid kinks during installation. With the proper flexible supply tubing in place, you can enjoy reliable water flow for years before needing to replace these inexpensive but vital plumbing components.