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How to Choose the Correct Air Hose for Your Air Compressor

How to Choose the Correct Air Hose for Your Air Compressor

Buying the right air hose for your compressor is simple right?! Well, it is, but there are a few important considerations that can be easy to overlook. So, if you want to make sure you buy the correct air hose for your air compressor, then read this guide from The Hosemaster team now…

What is a compressed air hose?

Before we delve into the details of selecting the right type of hose for your air compressor, we’d like to define exactly what we mean when we refer to air hoses.

Air hoses, also called air lines and air tubes, are flexible tubes that are specifically designed to convey compressed air from an air compressor to an air tool or other device that uses compressed air.

Standard air hoses vs high-pressure air hoses: know the difference!

A crucially important thing to consider when selecting an air hose is the types of pressures you’ll be working with.

If you’re going to be working with air pressures of 20 bar or higher, then you’ll want to buy a high-pressure air hose. If you are working with air pressures below 20 bar, then you’ll be able to use a standard air hose.

Note - we have a dedicated section on The Hosemaster website for high-pressure air hoses.

When you should replace your air hose

There are a number of reasons you may want to replace an air hose. In many cases, an air hose is replaced either because you are upgrading your compressed air system so that you can use new/different tools, or the existing air hose has come to the end of its serviceable life.

In the case of the latter, you should look out for some of the common problems that can afflict hoses such as abrasion, tearing, damage as a result of excessive bending, or material degradation as a result of age.

What are the different styles of air hose?

Whilst compressed air hoses are available in a range of different materials, they tend to come in one of two main styles; straight or coiled.

Straight air hoses

Straight air hoses, as their name suggests, lie flat and straight. Straight air hoses are ideal for scenarios where you require considerable reach e.g. you’re working in an automotive garage and need to walk around using your air tool.

Many people also prefer straight hoses to coiled air hoses as they don’t have the resistance of the latter. In other words, they don’t want to spring back into a coiled shape.

Another benefit of straight air hoses is that they are easy to store and can be gathered up in a circular pile, or can be mounted on a handy hose reel with a crank handle.

Coiled air hoses

Coiled air hoses, also known as recoil hoses, are ideal for working in cramped, tight spaces. This is because recoil air hoses are tensile and retain their shape; meaning that when you let go of a coiled air hose, it will ‘spring’ back into a coil.

Compressed air hose buying considerations

Now that we’ve looked at some of the common reasons for air hose replacement and the two main styles of air hose, let’s take a look at some of the considerations you should take into account when buying a new compressor air hose.


The type of material that an air hose is made from will influence the applications for which it is suitable, its longevity, its ease of use and more. Here at The Hosemaster, we offer high pressure air hoses made from two types of material; PVC and rubber.


PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride is a synthetic polymer of plastic, makes a great general-purpose hose material as it is lightweight, abrasion resistant and has a long lifespan.

What’s more, PVC air hoses can be used across a broad range of temperature ranges, from -10ºC up to +60ºC in many instances.

PVC is also an exceptionally smooth material, which means it offers minimal resistance and friction to compressed air as it’s being conveyed. PVC is also highly-resistant to a range of chemicals, weather conditions, microbes, hydrolysis, ageing, OZ and UV.


The other main material that is used for air hoses is rubber. However, don’t think that we’re referring to a single, homogenous type of rubber.

When you explore the different air hoses that are available on the market, you’ll often find that many compressed air hoses use different types of rubber in a single construction e.g. an NBR rubber inner layer paired with an SBR rubber outer layer.

We’ve listed some of the more common rubbers used in air hose manufacture below.

NBR rubber

NBR rubber, also known as nitrile rubber or Buna-N, is a widely used, oil and fuel-resistant rubber which also has excellent tensile strength. This makes it ideal for use in hoses where resistance to friction is important.

However, as NBR rubber tends not to handle ozone and general weather well, it’s mainly used for the inner layers of air hoses.

SBR rubber

SBR rubber - also known as styrene-butadiene rubber - is a copolymer of styrene and butadiene and has similar physical properties to natural rubber.

This form of synthetic rubber has good abrasion resistance, excellent ageing stability and good elasticity, making it ideal for forming the outer layers of air hoses.

Note - here at The Hosemaster, you’ll find that the majority of our air hoses feature a NBR inner layer and an SBR outer layer - however, check individual product descriptions for exact details.

If you’re not too sure whether you should buy a PVC or a rubber air hose, check out the comparison table below:





Prone to coiling, with attendant impacts on manipulation.

Will lie flat and resist curling/coiling.



Can be heavy, especially in larger diameters and longer lengths.


Ideal for a broad range of uses, but particularly for air lines.

Good for air lines, but also suitable for other professional/industrial uses such as water transfer.


To add extra durability and longevity, many air hoses now feature a form of reinforcement.

This reinforcement can take a number of forms, from high tensile textile cord to steel wire.

Reinforcement, by either high tensile textile cord or steel wire helps to produce much stronger, resilient air hoses. Not only that, but the addition of reinforcement helps air hoses to better withstand pressurisation and thus reduce the likelihood of ruptures or other failures. In particular, reinforcement helps air hoses to resist the impulse loads that result when an air compressor is turned on or off.

Here at The Hosemaster, our air hoses are available with either high tensile textile cord reinforcement, or steel wire reinforcement.


When it comes to selecting what length air hose you require, it’s important to think about how you’ll be using it.

For example, if you’re going to be using a paint gun in a paint booth, then you’ll want an air hose that’s long enough to accommodate the range of movement you’ll need to make throughout the day.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be sitting at a workbench all day using a nail gun, then you won’t want your air hose to be too long, as it’ll make working more awkward than it needs to be.

Aside from considerations of comfort, selecting the right length hose will also help reduce the risk of a pressure drop occurring e.g. if you use a hose that’s longer than you require, you’re more likely to experience a drop in pressure at the exit point of the hose.

Here at The Hosemaster, we stock air hoses ranging from one metre in length, all the way up to 100 metres in length.


When it comes to selecting the right diameter air hose, you should look at both the outer diameter (OD) and inner diameter (ID). You’ll usually find both measurements listed in the product description of an air hose. However, it’s the inner diameter you should pay closest attention to.

As a general rule, selecting the correct diameter hose will be determined by the CFM (cubic feet per minute) requirement of your air tool. For example, smaller hand-held tools such as spray guns and nail guns, will require between one and three CFM of pressurised air. At this level of pressure, a 6mm (¼”) air hose will suffice.

For larger air tools, such as impact wrenches, you may need an air hose as large as 10mm (3/9”).

Bear in mind that the larger the diameter of your chosen air hose, the heavier it will be. This also applies as the length of the hose increases too. So, try not to choose a hose that’s wider in diameter than it needs to be.

Here at The Hosemaster we stock air hoses ranging in diameter from ¼” all the way up to 4”.

Buy the right air hose for you at The Hosemaster

We hope you’ve found our guide to selecting the right air hose for your air compressor system helpful.

If you’re looking to upgrade or renew your air hose, then consider selecting one from The Hosemaster. Not only do we carry a large number of hoses in stock, but we also offer free shipping on orders to the mainland UK that are over £200.00 net.

Shop compressed air hoses at The Hosemaster now

For more buying guides, information and advice, read The Hosemaster blog

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