How to Properly Use Plumber’s Putty

What is plumber’s putty?

If you need to stop or prevent leaks around your faucet, sink or tub drains − plumber’s putty is the product you need. Plumber’s putty is a sealing staple for professionals, homeowners and DIY-ers alike. This easy-to-use product will prevent the migration of water between two rigid surfaces, keeping your fixtures leak-free.

Plumber’s putty is a malleable, clay-like compound that creates a watertight seal by filling in the space under a flange to prevent water from seeping through. The product is ideal for setting faucets, sink basket strainers, shower and pop-up drains. It’s easy to wipe away after installation and will not be visible from the outside of the plumbing fixture once installed.

Unlike some other sealants, plumber’s putty remains soft over time and can be easily modified after its first application. Because plumber’s putty is oil-based, it can stain porous materials, such as granite, marble, quartz and sandstone. For application on these surfaces, use a stain-free plumber’s putty, as this product is oil-free and will not stain the porous material.

What’s the difference between plumber’s putty and siliconized caulk?

Once fully dried, a siliconized caulk’s strong sealing properties provide superior flexibility and water resistance. Unlike plumber’s putty, siliconized caulk is an adhesive and can’t be remolded or replaced after it has dried. Siliconized caulk can also be used for applications where weatherproofing is required because it is waterproof and UV-resistant. In contrast, you don’t have to wait for plumber’s putty to dry. It remains soft and can be modified or removed after application.

How to use plumber’s putty

1. Establish the type of material you are working with to determine if it is compatible for use with plumber’s putty. Then, assess whether stain-free or regular plumber’s putty is right for your particular application.

2. After removing the desired amount of putty, be sure to seal the lid of the container to keep the unused putty clean.

3. Knead the putty and roll into a rope about ½” thick.

4. Form a complete circle with the putty around the underside of the flange of the item you are installing.

5. Put the item in place and apply pressure so that excess putty oozes out from under item’s flange.

6. Wipe away excess putty after the item is secured and wipe clean.

7. If putty is being used in colder applications, wait 10 minutes after the initial installation and confirm the product does not need an extra turn to ensure it is properly secure.

8. If the excess putty is clean and free of debris, it can be put back in the container.

Be sure to seal the lid completely, so the putty stays clean and isn’t exposed to air. If the putty is exposed to air for an extended period of time, it can dry out and can’t be reused. The sink, faucet or shower can be used immediately after the part has been put into place. Run the water after installation to check for any leaks. If a leak is present, more plumber’s putty can be added to remedy the situation.

When shouldn’t you use plumber’s putty?

Although this product creates a watertight seal, it is not an adhesive or glue. Thus, it should not be used in any pressurized connection, such as a gasketed fitting or on the thread of pipes. Historically, plumber’s putty was used to seal a leaky toilet or toilet bowl to a finished floor. However, we do not recommend using plumber’s putty for these types of applications, as this product can’t support the weight of a toilet and is not waterproof.

Additionally, plumber’s putty does not have any insulating qualities; and therefore, is not the right choice for sealing windows or doors. Both stain-free and regular plumber’s putty can potentially affect the finish of acrylic surfaces. Plumber’s putty should not be used on plastics (PVC or ABS) because it will affect the integrity of the material and lead to product failure.

Please read manufacturer instructions and recommendations on products to ensure best practices for safe and effective use.

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