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I have been looking for a new kitchen faucet recently at all the box stores, and noticed that pretty much all pull-out/pull-down faucets are now using a black braided hose instead of a more rigid stainless steel hose. For example, the black braided hose:

black braided hose

And the stainless steel (sometimes segmented) hose:

stainless steel hose

The last time I went looking for faucets, the more expensive ones (~$200+) all seemed to use the stainless steel hose, while especially on the cheaper ones (eg, <$100) used the black braided hose. What I've noticed is practically all faucets -- even $400 ones -- have the black braided hose, or sometimes a silver braided hose (which may be made of steel).

I previously had one of the braided hoses in my laundry room, and one thing I noticed was it didn't seem to be as durable. If pulled too hard, it could actually be pinched against the spout and block water, and it seemed like a lot of this use would cause it to break. The stainless steel / segmented hose is effectively crush-proof and doesn't seem to have this issue.

There must be some reason the industry is going to the black braided hose, but what is it? I could see this being a cost-saving measure, in that most people don't consider the hose type when purchasing, but I'd still expect the $300+ faucets to use what seems to me to be the higher-end hose.

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China have a problem with stainless stell production, welcome to shine plastic future ! – zb' Sep 3 '12 at 0:33
After the answers here, I ended up buying a pull-down faucet with the black braided hose; I'd probably call it "mid-range" (purchased on sale for ~$120 if I remember correctly). After living with it for 8 months, it's really a non-issue. The low-end one I had in my old laundry room kinked easily and I accidentally kinked it several times. The new one is sturdier, and though I'm sure you could kink it if you tried hard, I've never come close to accidentally doing it. Conclusion: These hoses are not all created equally and vary greatly in quality. Consider it when buying one of these. – gregmac Jun 7 '13 at 14:23
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Durability - I have often seen the stainless/chrome plated hose breaking up after a few years... this is where the hose splits along the seam of the hose... This will not happen with the braided hose due to the fact that you have a netted sheath. Also. the braided pattern is more flexible than its counterpart.

Cost - This hose is substantially cheaper than the corrugated style hose.

Ease of manufacturing and assembly: this hose can be crimped during assembly, the alternative is to use more complex and expensive screw clamps to assemble the unit.

You will probably also find the regular stainless braided hose like this: enter image description here

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+1 for durability: the ribbed hose only looks more durable. – Martha Sep 4 '12 at 16:51

A couple of reasons that can think of is wear to the inside and edge of the spout from the steel rubbing against it. The braid might extend and retract with less noise.

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To me, just less expensive to manufacture. I bought and installed two faucets with the plastic braided hoses a few years ago, and the hoses no longer fully retract. Will replace fixtures and look for faucets with metal hoses.

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