Planning to do some plumbing projects around the house? Perhaps there are some pesky leaks you would like to fix. However, you are unsure whether to use Plumbers’ putty or Teflon tape to create watertight seals around the joint assemblies. After all, both sealants are designed to prevent leaks even though they are not the same.
So, what are the differences between Plumbers’ putty and Teflon tape? They are quite a number, but the main difference lies in their application. Because you see, Teflon tape is designed for use on threaded pipe joints while Plumbers’ putty is not.
But what then is plumbers putty used for, or when should you not use it? Read on to find out this and much more, including Teflon tape uses and their differences.
What Is Plumbers Putty?
It is a clay-like compound or material that you can use for different plumbing projects to create a watertight seal. The putty is made of clay base and minerals or vegetable oils to ensure it does not dry out, harden, or even crumble. This makes it an excellent choice for sealing various plumbing fixtures.
Unlike other plumbing sealant options, once you use plumbers’ putty, you can easily disassemble your plumbing components later. This is because it is designed to stay pliable for a very long time.
What Is Plumbers Putty Used For?
With plumbers’ putty being the go-to solution for most plumbing projects, you can bet it has many uses. Some of the common uses of this plumbing sealant include:
One of the primary uses of this product is to prevent leakage on plumbing fittings especially when fitting faucets. You simply apply the putty around the base of your faucet to create a watertight seal.
Attaching kitchen sinks
You use plumbers ‘ putty when you want to secure your kitchen sink to the countertop. The sealant helps create a solid seal. You only need to use the putty around your sink’s rim and the base before fitting it inside the countertop.
Additionally, you can use plumbers’ putty when installing shower drains to create a watertight barrier. All you have to do is apply the putty underneath your drain to fix it into your bathtubs or sinks.
When Should You Not Use Plumbers Putty?
Although plumbers’ putty is a handy plumbing compound, there are some instances where you should not dare use it. These include:
This plumbing sealant is designed to stay soft for a very long time. As such, it will not hold up to high-pressurized water.
Applications involving PVC or ABS plastic
Most plumbers’ putty contains petroleum compounds to keep it soft. Unfortunately, petroleum is known to interfere with the chemical structure of plastic materials. Consequently, this usually causes the PVC fittings to degrade or break down.
Countertops made of porous materials
If your countertop is made of porous materials like granite, sandstone, quartz, or marble, just keep off the plumbers’ putty. Regular putty will only end up staining your countertops since it’s oil-based. Luckily, you could use stain-free putty.
When a stronger adhesive sealant is needed
Plumbers’ putty does not contain any adhesive ingredients. Therefore, it is not adhesive in nature. So, you should not use it on projects that need high-degree of waterproofing.
Sealing fittings made of different materials
If one of your plumbing joints is made of metal and the other one plastic, you cannot use plumbers’ putty. This plumbing sealant is not compatible with all materials.
The putty is formulated to prevent water from seeping through various plumbing fixtures. However, it does not create bonding under the water. So, you should not use it for sealing underwater projects.
Sealing a toilet to the floor
You cannot use this plumbing sealant to fix your toilet to the floor. This is because the putty is not designed to support the weight of a toilet.
What Is Teflon Tape?
Also referred to as thread sealant, Teflon tape is a thin but stretchy film tape commonly used for sealing pipe threads. However, Teflon is just a brand name for PTFE tape. Therefore, the generic name of Teflon tape is PTFE tape.
Worth mentioning is that the sealant comes cut into varying Teflon tape sizes and then wound on a spool. As a result, this makes it easy to wind the tape around your pipe threads. Additionally, the tape comes in different types to choose from, including white, pink, yellow, green, and gray tape.
What Is Teflon Tape Used For?
The primary use of Teflon tape is to prevent leakage of liquids and even gasses. But depending on the type you choose, there are many Teflon tape uses, such as:
Basic plumbing jobs
White is the most common type of Teflon tape and is best for routine plumbing jobs around the household. This includes sealing the kitchen, bathroom, and other outdoor fixtures and fittings.
Sealing water systems
You can use a pink Teflon tape when you want to seal pressurized water lines. This type of Teflon tape is more heavy-duty than white tape. It tends to offer a more robust adhesive along the threaded pipe joints for liquids and gasses.
Fitting gas lines
Another use of Teflon tape is to seal all gas lines, including natural, butane, or propane gas. However, you can only use yellow thread seal tape for this job.
Oxygen lines applications
The best adhesive to use for sealing oxygen lines is green Teflon tape. This tape offers a tight seal since it is grease-free and is not prone to fire.
Taping stainless steel threads
You can also use gray Teflon tape to tape up stainless steel threads. Thanks to its high-density level compared to standard tapes, it can help prevent premature wear and tear.
Another everyday use of Teflon tape is a sealant and lubricating material. This is thanks to its low friction properties.
When Should You Not Use Teflon Tape?
If you use your Teflon tape for the wrong applications, it could create leaks. So, below are some situations in which you should not use your thread seal tape.
Connecting fittings with female thread
You cannot use Teflon tape if you want to connect PVC fittings with female threads. This is because the tape might cause a wedging motion, thereby leading to substantial stress on the pipe joints.
Sealing solvent weld type joints
These types of joints are common on waste pipes. However, you cannot use Teflon tape to seal solvent weld joints. This is because the tape is recommended for use on threaded joints only.
Connecting plastic fittings
Teflon tape is not the best for plastic fittings but for metal pipes and fittings. Instead, you should use adhesives like pipe dope. Also, you cannot use tape to seal compression fittings.
Making Pex type connections
Pex connections use a crimping tool to ensure a watertight seal. Therefore, you should not use your Teflon tape for this type of connection.
Comparison Table: Plumbers Putty Vs. Teflon Tape
If you are interested in knowing how plumbers’ putty compares to Teflon tape, check out our quick comparison table below.
|Plumbers Putty||Teflon Tape|
|Nature||Thick, malleable compound||Thin film of tape|
|Lubrication||No||Lubricates thread connections|
|Use on threaded joints||Does not fit between threads||Yes|
|Pressure resistant||Cannot withstand high-pressurized water||Withstands high water pressures|
|Applications||Best for use when installing drains and other fixture attachments.||Best for sealing gas lines, water systems, oxygen lines, and stainless steel threads.|
|Temperature resistance||Not stable at high temperatures||High and low-temperature resistance|
|Types available||Universal||Available in different sizes, colors, and widths|
Plumbers Putty Vs. Teflon Tape: What Are The Key Differences?
The main difference between plumbers’ putty and Teflon tape is their application. Because you can use the Plumber’s tape on threaded joints, but you can’t with the Plumbers’ putty. Read on to find out their other differences.
Plumbers’ putty is best used for sealing along the base of faucets and pop-up drains before setting them onto the sink. You can also use this plumbing sealant to attach kitchen sinks to the countertop and sink basket strainers.
As for Teflon tape, it is best for sealing pipe threads. These include piping systems for water, oxygen, gas, and stainless steel threads. In other words, you cannot use plumbers’ putty on threaded joints.
Nature of the sealant
Plumbers’ putty comes in the form of a thick clay-like compound that is malleable in nature. Its soft and stretchy nature allows you to easily shape it for the best application. Meanwhile, Teflon tape is simply a tape but in the form of a thin film. However, it is not sticky like most tapes.
Plumbers’ putty only works as a form of a barrier to prevent water from seeping around a fixture. In other words, it does not create any kind of bonding under the water.
However, the plumber’s tape creates a very tight-fitting seal to prevent leaks. Therefore, you can use it to seal underground water and gas pipes thanks to its excellent adhesive properties.
Because of its soft and flexible nature, plumbers’ putty cannot withstand connections that receive high pressurized water. The water can quickly sweep away the putty and cause a leak.
The plumber’s tape comes in different thickness levels. So, if you apply the tape correctly, it can withstand a maximum pressure of 10,000 psi. As a result, you can use it to seal high-pressurized water systems and gas lines.
Plumbers’ putty is designed to only create a watertight seal around plumbing fixtures like faucets and drains. Simply put, it only works as a sealant.
But when it comes to Teflon tape, it acts as both a sealant and lubricating compound, just like pipe joint compound. Basically, it helps lubricate the pipe joints for ease of tightening and removal of the fittings in the future.
With plumbers’ putty, there is only one type for all applications. However, the ingredients may differ from one sealant to another, depending on the brand of the putty.
Meanwhile, Teflon tape is available in different types. For instance, you will find a type of tape for sealing oxygen lines different from the tape for fitting gas lines. You will also come across various Teflon tape sizes to choose from.
Unlike Teflon tape, plumbers’ putty is not resistant to high temperatures. You can expect it to remain flexible at low temperatures of 30-degrees Celsius. However, the sealant may lose some of its adhesive strength at higher temperatures.
On the other hand, Teflon tape can withstand both low and high temperatures. Basically, you can use this thread seal tape in an environment with temperatures ranging from 268-degrees Celsius to +260-degrees Celsius.
Which One Is Best: Plumbers Putty Or Teflon Tape?
Overall, most professional plumbers prefer Teflon tape over plumbers’ putty. This is because of the many Teflon tape uses and its excellent sealing properties. Not to mention, it can withstand high temperatures and pressure.
But guess what? You don’t have to choose between using putty or Teflon tape. This is because you cannot use one in place of the other, just like with pipe dope or other adhesives. After all, each sealant has its unique purpose.
Whether you are a professional or DIY plumber, you’ve got to use either plumbers’ putty or Teflon tape in your plumbing connections. As for the Plumbers’ putty, you use it when installing drains, faucets, basket colanders, and other sink fixtures.
But if you’re sealing threaded pipe joints, you must use Teflon tape for all of your plumbing fittings. Of course, there are instances when you should not use either the putty or the tape. Also worth mentioning is that these sealants differ in other areas besides their application.
For instance, while you can use Teflon tape as a sealant and lubricating material, the plumbers’ putty only works as a sealant.
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