Plumbers Putty vs. Teflon Tape

You’re probably aware that both Plumber’s putty and Teflon tape can be used to seal the joints in order to prevent leaks. But which sealant should you choose?

Considering all the choices available, two of the most popular products to repair a leak or perhaps seal a drain or faucet are plumber’s putty and Teflon tape.
Knowing which one to use will help you determine which product is best for the job.

Plumber's Putty vs Teflon Tape comparison

Key Differences

Plumbers Putty comes in a pliable dough-like form, whereas the Teflon tape is a thin film wound on a spool in tape form.

Both products are used to create water-tight joints but are used at different locations.

The plumber’s putty works as a sealant between two hard surfaces, such as the sink and stainer, while the Teflon tape is used on threaded joints.

When to Use Plumber’s Putty

Although different ingredients are used depending on the brand, the Plumber’s putty is a compound that is applied to leaks and connections to create a waterproof seal. Any area where a reversible waterproof seal is required is perfect for the plumber’s putty to be applied.

Plumbers Putty in Container

The most common applications include the following.

  • Between the Sink and Rim of the Basket Drain
  • Between the Base of the Faucet and Surface of the Sink

How to Use It?

For the most part, you apply the plumber’s putty in a bead form to the underside of the drain’s rim, then place it in the sink. Press down from the top until the seal is created, and wipe away the excess putty.

Using Plumbers Putty for Tub

For faucets, you run a thick bead of plumber’s putty around its base and then position it on the sink. Tighten and wipe away the excess.

When to Use Teflon Tape

Sometimes called plumber’s tape, Teflon tape is a thin film that is designed to work on threaded pipe joints. It is made from a synthetic fluoropolymer called Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

In fact, Teflon™ is a trade marked brand name of the product made by Chemours which is a spin company of DuPont, who originally invented the chemical compound.

The Teflon tape prevents the threads from touching and seals the joint to stop water and air from leaking. The thin layer of Teflon tape acts as a lubricant which will make it easy to remove the joints without worrying about the threads getting rusted and frozen.

You can find Teflon tape in different sizes to fit different types of threaded pipes.

  • White Teflon Tape: Good for general-purpose use and is best suited for water pipes up to 3/8ths of an inch in diameter.
  • Red Color: Best suited for larger pipes up to 2 inches in diameter
  • Yellow Tape: Best suited for gas lines. Twice as dense as white Teflon tape
  • Green: The contamination-free green tape is used for medical gas lines and oxygen lines.
  • Grey Tape: The grey color tape has nickel in it and is normally used for stainless steel pipes to prevent corrosion.
  • Pink Tape: Generally used for waterlines.

However, the white Teflon tape is the most commonly used for applications around the home with water pipes.

There is also Teflon tape with copper, which is more of a lubricant and not a sealant.

How to Use It?

  • You use Teflon tape by wrapping it around the threaded part of the pipe or the shaft.
  • Apply in a clockwise direction (assuming that it is a right-hand thread) from the base of the thread until you reach the open end of the pipe.
  • Once in place, you can screw in the pipe to the next pipe or fixture. This will create a proper seal.

Teflon Tape vs. Dope (Pipe Thread Compound)

Pipe thread compound, or pipe dope as it is sometimes called, is a paste-like substance that is waterproof. It not only seals but lubricates the areas, which makes threading easier.

You can use both products, but Teflon tape is easier to apply. Pipe dope was used before Teflon tape and can be applied rather quickly. However, it is considerably messier and thus somewhat more difficult to use and clean away compared to Teflon tape.

Pipe dope is required in some states to be used on gas lines instead of Teflon tape, so keep that in mind when working on gas pipes. However, for water pipes, Teflon tape is arguably superior at least in terms of application. But pipe dope is arguably just as effective, even if it is messier to apply.