How to apply plumber’s putty

How to apply plumber's putty

Found a puddle on the laundry room floor with my socked foot. Please don’t let it be from Percy. Nope, not the dog. Where was this water coming from? Oh. Great. The sink drain is leaking.

When we first moved into the house, my dad visited and helped me install the free-standing deep sink and faucet in the laundry room. Over time and with lots of use/abuse (three boys who do sports and a dog we wash in the deep sink), the plumber’s putty must have cracked and needs replacing. Most likely due to when the sink is bumped hard it moves a little because it stands alone on thin legs. I have since built a unit next to it that provides so much more stability than it had before!

How to apply plumber's putty

Anyway, it is time to fix the deep sink drain and it got me thinking…what is the better choice of compound when repairing a sink or faucet? Of course I made a list to compare. Here are some PROs and CONs of plumber’s putty and silicone caulk so you can decide what product is best for your project.

Plumber’s Putty or Silicone?

Both plumber’s putty and silicone are sealing compounds designed to provide a water tight fit for pop up drains, sink strainers, undersides of fittings, showers and drains. Plumber’s putty is more traditional while silicone caulking is a more modern product, but either one (in most cases) can get the job done. There are pros and cons to both that may help you to decide which product is best suited for your needs.

How to apply plumber's putty

Pros and Cons of Plumber’s Putty

  • Easy to mold and re-position

Just as the name implies, the soft material can be kneaded, shaped, and manipulated over and over until the correct amount and location is achieved.

  • Reapply as much as needed

If the placement is not quite right, just pull it off and re apply.

  • Easy to remove after several years

Say you want to change out your faucet in a few years, it is easy to remove the old plumber’s putty with little effort.

  • Great durability

There are plenty of older homes where the original faucets are working just fine and they were installed over 50 years ago with plumber’s putty.

  • Doesn’t stick to a surface

It can be tricky to get the putty to stay if you are working in an area where gravity is working against you.

  • Not an adhesive

Don’t plan on fixing cracks or holding pieces together with plumber’s putty.

  • Not to be used on large areas

This was not designed for nor is it ideal to use over a large area.

Pros and Cons of Silicone

  • Keeps things secure

Waterproof seal that prevents leaking

  • Can be used over a large area

Silicone is used in marine operations to help keep the wooden ships sealed and in ship shape.

  • Can be used as an adhesive

Often used if there is a break or split to fill in an area and seal it off.

  • Hardens when it dries out

Once dry, it becomes so hard that you rarely see it break or crack.

  • Works well with acrylic or ceramic
  • You will most likely need a scraping tool to remove it

If you ever need to replace a faucet, or something, you will have to scrape off all the bits of the silicone to make a nice tight seal again. A scraping tool of some sort will need to be used to remove it.

  • Needs more precise placement

You have to be accurate the first time you use it. The placement needs to be on point.

  • Lasts only about 10 to maybe 20 years
  • The hardness makes it challenging to shape and modify

What Brands Are the Best?

Because I haven’t bought and tested all of the brands out there, I relied on the opinion of Plumbing Love’s review. They admitted any brand of plumber’s putty will get the job done, but their top choice was Oatey 25101 Hercules STA PUT Plumber’s Putty which you can purchase here. For the complete review by Plumbing Love on different brands of plumber’s putty, click here.

GE 5070 Advanced Silicone for Kitchen and Bath Projects is recommended by Hunker.com. Find the link to purchase here.

As an Amazon Associate I have the potential to earn from qualifying purchases.

The DO NOTs of Plumber’s Putty and Silicone Caulk

When searching out the top brands of plumber’s putty and silicone, I came across this list of common mistakes home owner’s do when fixing drains and plumbing by FHFurr.com.

“Plumber’s Putty: Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the plumber’s “duct tape”; plumber’s putty is a malleable substance used as a sealant for plumbing fixtures to aid against water exposure.

-DO NOT use plumber’s putty on plastic or metal threaded pipes to seal between joints. This is a job for Teflon tape.

-DO NOT use plumber’s putty to seal the area between the sink vanity and the wall. This is a job for caulk.

-DO NOT attempt to use plumber’s putty to join plastic pipes. This is a job for PVC primer.

-DO NOT use plumber’s putty on porous matter such as granite or marble—the composition of plumber’s putty will stain these surfaces.

Caulk: This is misused in same way as plumber’s putty; it is a substance that seals against water intrusion and is often seen where the plumbing fixture meets the wall.

-DO NOT use caulk on anything pressurized”

Well, there you have it. A little more information for you to make an informed decision when replacing faucets, drains or doing plumbing repairs. Now it is high time I get to fixing my own laundry room deep sink and focus on making a house a home.

How to apply plumber's putty

With older tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring or even wide-plank floors, gaps inevitably develop between the boards, mostly because the wood shrinks over time as it dries out and loses moisture content. The problem is magnified when the boards were not tightly laid in the first place. Another exacerbating condition is water damage. Water-logged wood will first swell then shrink as it dries out. Floors that are subjected to dry heat from below—such as when they are installed above a furnace room—are particularly prone to developing gaps.

Although some gapping is inevitable, severe gaps become more than just unsightly. Wide gaps between boards can become dirt magnets, and the floor may even become a tripping hazard if the boards begin to cup or curl, a common occurrence with old wood flooring.

Should You Fill Flooring Gaps?

It's important to keep in mind that all wood expands and contracts with seasonal humidity changes. If you're bothered by gaps in the dry winter months but don't seem to notice them much during the relatively humid seasons, it's probably best to leave the gaps alone, as filling them when they're at their widest will create problems when the wood expands again and the gaps naturally close up. In extreme cases, floorboards can buckle if you have left no room for them to expand.

On the other hand, old flooring can develop gaps that are more or less permanent, although they still may get slightly wider and narrower with humidity changes. Check your hardwood flooring during the humid season, when the wood is most swollen and the boards are at their tightest. If you find that the gaps are large enough so that a nickel standing upright can slide into the gaps, then you have a problem that needs correction.

If you're certain the gaps are there year-round, it's probably safe to fill them. It's best to do this during the humid season, when the gaps are most narrow. Of course, this means you might see slight gaps appear when the wood shrinks again next winter, but this is better than a floor that buckles during the next humid season when the boards expand.

Before You Begin

We've provided instructions for a few different methods of fixing the gaps in your wood floor. Depending upon the option you choose, you might not need all of the supplies on our lists. Read through the instructions carefully, then gather the supplies and tools appropriate for your chosen method.