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What is Plumber’s Putty?

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Have you ever come across a leaking tap, dripping faucet, or clogged drain? We all have been through such situations where you need to call the plumbing company and get things fixed asap.

Interestingly, most plumbers are likely to use a similar set of tools as well as sealing compounds to fix the plumbing issue.

Since most of you aren’t experts on housekeeping and plumbing maintenance, you wouldn’t know much about the essential items that are used to fix these problems.

One of those products is a plumber’s putty which is vital to the plumbing process. Most professional plumbers use putty to make a waterproof seal on the sinks, faucets, and drains.

If you need to buy plumber’s putty, then check out our review blog post on the best plumber’s putty. We shared our hands-on review on some of the best plumber’s putty available on the market.

If you’re not sure what a plumber’s putty is, you’re not alone. There are probably millions of consumers out there that run into plumbing issues and they don’t know what’s going on.

So let us explain a little bit more about it.

What is Plumber’s Putty?

It’s a soft and clay-like waterproofing sealant that is applied to the sinks, faucets, and taps to make sure that there is no water dripping. It helps provide a watertight seal to the water supply connections in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area.

It comes in small jars and you can easily grab it from a nearby hardware store. Furthermore, you can order it online without going through the hassle of going down to the hardware store.

As far as the texture and consistency are concerned, it’s a pliable substance and seems more like a mashed potato. Also, the plumber’s putty remains soft for a while when applied to the sinks, faucets, and taps but plumber’s putty will harden over time.

What is Plumber’s Putty Made of?

Several brands make plumber’s putty, and there is always a minor difference in the ingredients. However, it’s a common understanding that there are a couple of ingredients that remain the same no matter what brand you choose.

The key ingredients are clay and linseed oil. Perhaps, you never heard of linseed oil before, so let me tell you a little bit about this oil. It’s a yellowish oil extracted from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant.

Additionally, don’t be surprised if you come across a putty from a different brand and its ingredients include fish oil, talc, or limestone.

Anyway, it’s no surprise that every (putty) brand has its special ingredients that help them market their product and stand out from the rest.

Benefits of Using Plumber’s Putty

  • 100% Watertight Seal

It’s an excellent sealant. It does provide a watertight seal unless the problem isn’t underwater. It isn’t supposed to work under the water, anyway. Don’t let the leaks or dripping hold you back, and apply this 100% waterproof sealant to fix the problem.

  • Quick-Drying

It’s a soft and clay-like substance that won’t take long to dry out, but you got to give it an hour or two to be on the safe side. It’s a fact that putty won’t completely dry out in an hour, so make sure to give some time to let it dry out before you start using the leaking sink or faucet.

  • Easy Application

The application is not as hard as you might think. All you need is to take a piece of putty from the jar and roll it out after a bit of kneading. Once you’ve rolled the chunk of putty, apply it where required.

  • Easy to Remove

It might take weeks or even months for the putty to harden. So it allows you to make adjustments during plumbing maintenance or after a while. To put it simply, it’s easily removable.

More: How to remove plumber’s putty (4 ways)

  • Inexpensive

It’s not as expensive as sealant. It shouldn’t cost you more than a few bucks, but of course, prices vary depending on the brand. Anyway, it won’t break the bank when stop by the hardware store to get it.

When to Use Plumber’s Putty

Let’s put some light on when you should use it:

Watertight Seal

Leaks are a common plumbing issue, and plumber’s putty comes in handy in this situation as it helps seal the leaked parts in the toilets and drains. Do not hesitate to make watertight seals if there is a leak in the sinks, tubs, and taps.

Applied Internally

One of the key elements of using putty is that it’s most effective when used internally. The point is that it doesn’t work like silicone that is used externally.

Always keep in mind that a plumber’s putty is a pliable, clay-like substance that needs to be kneaded and rolled for installation for fixing the leakages in the bathroom and kitchen.

Removability Factor

You might want to consider a plumber’s putty when you need either an immediate or a temporary solution for a leaking sink, faucet, or tub. One of the benefits of using putty is that it’s easily removable. So if you want to make an alteration or adjustment after applying it, there shouldn’t be an issue.

When Not to Use Plumber’s Putty

We’ve discussed when it becomes necessary to use a plumber’s putty. However, there are specific conditions when it’s not viable to use a plumber’s putty. Let’s find out about those scenarios:


You may have figured out that a plumber’s putty is an excellent waterproofing sealant, which is true. However, it doesn’t work under the water. It’d be an awfully big coincidence if worked for your swimming pool leakage because it doesn’t work under the water. You’ll be better off if you find an alternative solution if you’re planning on using it underwater.

Exposed Areas

It’s a no-go for using on the exposed areas that requires a watertight seal. As said before, a plumber’s putty is most effective when it’s used applied internally for making a watertight seal. So putty is not recommended to be used on the exposed or opened points that need a watertight seal.

Adhesive Power

It might surprise some of you that the plumber’s putty doesn’t have the adhesive strength to hold on to something. It’s a waterproofing sealant that is pliable and applied mostly in the base areas of the faucets, sinks, and taps. However, silicone might be an alternative solution if you need adhesive power in your waterproofing sealant.

How to Use Plumber’s Putty

There is no rocket science in a plumber’s putty application. If you have a leaking bathtub, shower, or washbasin, you might be able to fix it if you know how to use plumber’s putty.

Here are five simple steps:

1. Scrub the Surface

Using a plumber’s putty doesn’t mean you could apply it right away. Instead, you need to do a little bit of groundwork before you go on with the process. So hold your horses for a while and pay attention to this step.

First things first, clean the surface before the putty application. Otherwise, debris or previously applied putty might be buried under the fresh putty. Once it’s been cleaned, you’re all set to move on to the next step.

2. Roll the Putty

Warm your hands by rubbing them together. Then, take a chunk of putty from the jar and roll it between your palms to soften it. It might take a couple of minutes, so keep doing it until it becomes a thin rope.

After that, the putty should be soft and smooth in texture and pretty much ready for application.

3. Apply the Putty Rope

Take that thin rope of plumber’s putty and gently press it into the ring similar to the size of the drain pipe or faucet fixture’s bottom that needs to be sealed.

You may want to press the putty against the fixture or pipe so that there is no air in it and it sits firmly around the fitting.

4. Install the Part

Once you’re done with the putty rope application, grab the part to install it. It’s not done yet because assembling is an essential part of the process. Make sure that fixture is tightly screwed in, which would squeeze out the excess putty.

5. Remove the Excess Putty

After the fitting or tightening, the excess putty would pop out. Remove the excess putty after the assembly. You can pretty much start using the sink, faucet, or bathtub right away – wherever you applied the putty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of plumber’s putty?

Silicone is the most common plumber’s putty alternative for making waterproof seals. However, there are several options that you can try out. We’ve published an article on plumber’s putty alternatives that you might want to check out.

Is plumber’s putty necessary?

It’s a bit old-school, but it’s been widely used in the plumbing industry. One of the reasons why it’s popular in the industry is that it doesn’t need time to dry out. Once you apply it, you could start using the tap or sink right away. So the answer is that it’s quite necessary to keep some in your plumbing bag.

Can I use plumber’s putty to stop a leak?

You surely can use a plumber’s putty to stop a leak unless it’s not under the water. The plumber’s putty doesn’t work underwater. So the next time you stumble upon a leak in your washbasin, tap, or faucet, you can use the plumber’s putty to stop it.

Final Thoughts

We tried to put together a comprehensive introductory piece on plumber’s putty. Most first-timers don’t know anything, so you got to start from the basics.

Have you ever had a plumbing issue at your place, and the plumber didn’t show up on time? If it has happened to you, maybe you wished that you were a handyman who could fix anything.

Well, one of the reasons why we put out helpful content on plumbing maintenance is to educate the readers so that they could learn the basics of plumbing.

Anyway, we hope that this guide on plumber’s putty would help you along the way. Feel free to leave your questions or thoughts in the comments box below. 

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