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Plumber’s Putty vs Teflon Tape: Which to Use?

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Are you curious about choosing the right sealant for your plumbing project? It sometimes is confusing when you have more than one option to choose from, especially if you’re not a professional.

Plumber’s putty and Teflon tape are two essential plumbing sealants that come in handy during plumbing projects. However, they cannot be substituted for each other.

The main reason that you cannot replace one for another is that they work differently. You’ll learn more about this later in this article.

We decided to shed some light on the topic to guide you on using the right type of plumbing sealant for your project.

We will cover how they’re each used, the pros and cons, and which one to choose.

Plumber’s Putty

Plumber’s putty is a soft and pliable substance that is applied to the plumbing fixtures to ensure that there is no leakage. Putty works as a waterproofing sealant when applied to the faucets and flanges to stop the water from seeping through. It’s vital for sealing water supply connections in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area.

It’s a clay-like substance and has the consistency of mashed potato. One of the perks of using plumber’s putty is that it remains soft for quite some time when applied to sinks and faucets but it hardens over time.

Using Plumber’s Putty

Water leaks could be damaging to the bathroom or kitchen. Therefore, it’s important to know what to use and how to use it to fix such problems.

You might be planning on fixing a drain pipe or faucet in the kitchen, and maybe that’s why you bought a jar of plumber’s putty. No need to panic if you have no idea how putty works and how to apply it.

Where to Use Plumber’s Putty

The plumber’s putty is a useful compound for waterproofing bathroom tanks, sinks, washbasin, and faucets. Plus, it’s important to know that putty can’t handle any pressure. Furthermore, if the putty application is exposed or underwater, it may not work effectively. It is best if used internally.

How to Use the Plumber’s Putty

If you haven’t used plumber’s putty before, it may seem like a tricky thing. However, it’s quite simple to use the plumber’s putty. Before you start the putty application, clean the surface where you’re applying the putty. Then, take a chunk of plumber’s putty from the jar and roll it between your palms to make sure that it gets softened.

Make it a thin rope with a small chunk of putty. As far as the application is concerned, take that thin putty rope and make a ring similar to the size of the plumbing fixture where you’re applying it to and press the putty ring against the plumbing fixture so that it sits properly.

Pros of Plumber’s Putty

Let’s take a sneak peek at the advantages of using plumber’s putty:

  • Plumber’s putty provides watertight seals when installing washbasins, sinks, tubs, and faucets
  • It’s extremely helpful in fixing the leaks in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry areas
  • It could also be an immediate or a temporary solution for a leaking sink, faucet, or tub if a plumber isn’t available
  • It’s easier to remove after the application because it remains soft for a while

Cons of Plumber’s Putty

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The plumber’s putty has a handful of disadvantages that you must be aware of before you rush to a nearby hardware store to buy it:

  • Plumber’s putty needs to be kneaded and rolled for installation unlike silicone or other sealants that are applied directly
  • You can’t use putty externally because it doesn’t work in the exposed areas. It must be used internally
  • Putty may be a good waterproofing sealant, but it doesn’t work underwater
  • One of the disadvantages of plumber’s putty is that it doesn’t have the adhesive strength to hold on to something, which forces plumbers to look out for plumber’s putty alternatives.

Teflon Tape

Teflon tape is a thin film that works as a sealant in the threaded pipes to make sure that the water doesn’t seep through the pipe joints. It’s known as PTFE tape, which stands for polytetrafluoroethylene tape. And, it’s also called the plumber’s tape.

Using Teflon Tape

Teflon tape is extremely useful in sealing water and gas pipelines that may have to handle pressure. Furthermore, it has several types and densities that are used differently.

Teflon tape comes in different colors that help identify the right one, for instance, the white tape is used for water pipes, whereas the yellow tape is ideal for gas supply lines. The red rape is usually applied to the larger pipes. Lastly, the green tape is used for oxygen supply in the medical field.

Where to Use Teflon Tape

Teflon tape is a sealant used on the threaded pipe joints that are common in taps, faucets, and showers. The purpose of Teflon tape is the same as any other sealant on the market. It strengthens the joints and stops the leak.

How to Use Teflon Tape

It is applied on the male threaded pipe. All you need to do is wrap the Teflon tape around the threaded pipe in a clockwise direction, but it doesn’t end here.

Once you have wrapped the threaded pipe properly, screw the pipe or fixture tightly to complete the installation. Once it’s properly installed, the Teflon tape would provide a perfect pressure-resistant seal.

Pros of Teflon Tape

  • Teflon tape has different types to cater to gas and water supply lines
  • The teflon tape is useful for both domestic and industrial work
  • This tape is much easier to disassemble when repairing a plumbing fixture or pipe joint
  • It comes in handy for sealing threaded pipe joints in the bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas
  • It works as a dry lubricant in the pipe joints

Cons of Teflon Tape

  • Teflon tape is not an ideal choice if heat is involved in the process as it doesn’t withstand high temperature
  • If the plumbing fixture or machinery gets overheated, the teflon tape could release a mildly toxic gas which may have health hazards
  • Its ability to resist the friction under heavy pressure is a bit questionable
  • It’s important to choose the right type of teflon tape as there are different tapes for gas, water, and oxygen installations

Plumbers Putty vs Teflon Tape: Which Is Better?

The comparison between the plumber’s putty and Teflon tape is not to find out which one is better, but rather to figure out which one is best for your project. Both these sealants work differently and cannot be substituted for each other.

The plumber’s putty is a popular waterproofing sealant that is mostly used for internal sealing and does not work effectively when it’s exposed. Furthermore, putty can’t handle much pressure and it becomes unusable underwater.

It’s a bit unfair to do a head-to-head comparison between the plumber’s putty and Teflon tape.

On the other hand, Teflon tape also helps seal water and gas supply connections. However, Teflon tape (or PTFE tape) can’t be used as a replacement for plumber’s putty and vice versa. Both these sealants come in handy in different installations. The Teflon tape is often used on the threaded pipe joints and applied onto the male threaded pipe to make a strong joint.

Since we can’t substitute one for another, it’s fairly easy to understand that neither one of them is better than the other one. Both are essential plumbing sealants that are widely used in the plumbing industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use plumbers putty instead of Teflon tape?

Both plumber’s putty and Teflon tape are excellent sealants, but they can’t substitute each other. If you have been trying to replace one for another, you’re making a mistake. We’d highly recommend digging deeper into this and finding out the difference in their application.

Is pipe thread sealant better than Teflon tape?

Most plumbers won’t comment on which one is better than the other one because both these sealants are used in the plumbing industry. Usually, professional plumbers opt for the sealant that is right for the project.
Also, it’s advised that one should only use either pipe dope or Teflon tape, but this video from an expert reveals that you could use both sealants together.

When should you not use Teflon tape in plumbing?

Teflon tape can’t withstand high temperatures, and it could further escalate the problem if the temperature rises above 200 degrees C/392 degrees F. Furthermore, several types of Teflon tapes are used for specific purposes and they can’t be interchanged, for instance, there are different Teflon tapes for water supply, gas lines, and oxygen cylinders. So you might not want to use the wrong Teflon tape.

Let’s Conclude This!

We’ve discussed how plumber’s putty works and what it can’t do. Similarly, we shed some light on the good and bad of Teflon tape as well.

You probably landed on this article because you were hesitant about opting for the right sealant between the plumber’s putty and Teflon tape.

We’re glad that we were able to explain the difference between both sealants as well as how these sealants work.

The takeaway is that you can’t substitute plumber’s putty with Teflon tape and vice versa. Both these sealants are essential to fixing and installing the plumbing fixtures.

If you haven’t had any experience of using these sealants before reading this piece, we highly recommend asking the plumbing expert for advice before you get your hands dirty.

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