hands wrapping plumbers putty around a sink drain

Plumber’s Putty

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/16/2021

When it comes to the plumbing in your home, there are a few important tools and materials you should have on hand in case you need to make some quick repairs. Plumbers putty is one of those things. However, this clay like material might not be exactly what you think it is. On one hand, it will help keep your faucets and other fixtures in place. On the other hand, don’t expect it to lock your threads together the way an adhesive might.

Definition

The term plumbers putty typically refers to a pliable clay type substance that is often used as a watertight sealant around faucets and drains. However, it’s important to note that this pliable putty is not an adhesive. Therefore, it can be used to create a seal without permanently bonding things together. Plumbers putty is sometimes confused with pipe dope but the two are quite different. Unlike pipe dope, this clay like substance will not stand up to water pressure and should not be used to seal the threading between pipe fixtures. Numerous variations are produced and sold by different manufacturers, often with slightly different ingredients and sometimes under different names.

What Are The Best Situations To Use Plumbers Putty?

If you’re stuck making some repairs to one of your faucets, you may want to make sure you’ve got some plumbers putty on hand. This pliable material has a few applications where there really is no other substitute. At the same time, it has its limits and shouldn’t be used to replace pipe dope or caulking:

  • Plumbers putty has the consistency of a pliable clay and works well to bond surfaces such as the bases of faucets and drain collars to sink basins with a watertight seal. It works best when rolled into long thin strands and pressed between clean surfaces.
  • Plumbers putty should not be used in areas that need adhesive strength, such as around bathtubs and countertops. Also, it should not be used to seal threaded pipe fittings, as it doesn’t stand up well to water pressure.
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