Can I Use Plumbers Putty Instead of Silicone?

When it comes to sealing plumbing fixtures and connections, you may be wondering if it is possible to use plumber’s putty instead of silicone. Both materials are commonly used for this purpose, but there are some key differences between them. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of using plumber’s putty and silicone, as well as provide guidance on when each material may be the best choice. We’ll also walk you through the step-by-step process of using plumber’s putty as an alternative to silicone and highlight common mistakes to avoid. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional plumber, this article will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which material to use for your next project.

The Key Differences Between Plumbers Putty and Silicone

Why Plumbers Putty May Be a Better Choice for Certain Applications

Plumbers putty is commonly used for sealing drain baskets, faucets, showers, and pop-up plugs due to its ease of use and flexibility. It is particularly useful for creating water-tight seals and conform to the contours of drain baskets and sink strainers. One of the key advantages of using plumbers putty is that it can effectively fill any gaps between the fixture and sink, making it ideal for sealing fixtures that experience frequent movement or vibration. Additionally, plumbers putty is biodegradable and a more environmentally friendly option than silicone.

When Silicone Is the Clear Winner

Silicone caulk is often the preferred material when a stronger and more permanent seal is necessary. It provides a stronger adhesion than plumbers putty and can flex more effectively, allowing it to adapt to fluctuations in temperature without shrinking or cracking. One of the downsides of silicone is that it contains harmful chemicals and can be more difficult to work with than plumbers putty. However, it is a popular material used for sealing plumbing fixtures, shower stalls, pipes, and toilets.

In conclusion, both plumbers putty and silicone have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice between the two will depend on the specific application and the material you are working with. It is always important to avoid exposing plumbers putty to UV rays to prevent it from deteriorating. As a plumber, it is important to have both materials on hand to tackle a wide range of plumbing needs.

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How to Use Plumbers Putty as an Alternative to Silicone

The Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Plumbers Putty

Plumbers putty is a useful addition to any tool kit for plumbing repairs and installation. It is a useful sealant that can be used as an alternative to silicone for a variety of applications. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use plumbers putty for your plumbing needs:

  1. Clean the surface: The first step is to ensure that the surface is clean and dry. This step is important to ensure that the putty will adhere properly. Use a damp cloth to clean the surface and let it dry completely.
  2. Prepare the putty: Take a suitable amount of putty and roll it into a long, thin rope. The putty should be soft and pliable, but not too thick or too thin.
  3. Apply the putty: Apply the putty to the surface that needs to be sealed. Use gentle pressure to press the putty onto the surface, making sure that it covers the entire area and is evenly distributed.
  4. Shape the putty: Use your fingers to shape the putty as needed. If you are using putty around a sink or drain, you can use a putty knife to shape the excess putty and remove it.
  5. Allow to dry: Once the putty is applied and shaped, allow it to dry completely. This usually takes a few hours, but can vary depending on the environment and temperature.
  6. Check for leaks: After the putty has dried, turn on the water or run the sink to check for any leaks. If you notice any leaks, remove the putty and reapply it.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Plumbers Putty

While using plumbers putty is a straightforward process, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided:

  1. Using too much putty: Using too much putty can cause it to ooze out of the joint, which can make a mess. It can also cause the putty to dry improperly, which will compromise its effectiveness.
  2. Not cleaning the surface properly: Failing to clean the surface properly can cause the putty to not adhere as well as it should. Make sure to clean the surface carefully before applying the putty.
  3. Not shaping the putty properly: If you don’t shape the putty properly, you may leave gaps or spaces between the putty and the surface that need to be sealed. This can cause leaks and allow water to seep through.
  4. Not allowing the putty to dry completely: If you don’t allow the putty to dry completely, you may cause it to become too soft or not adhere properly. Make sure to allow enough time for the putty to dry before checking for leaks.
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The Pros and Cons of Using Plumbers Putty vs. Silicone

The Advantages of Using Plumbers Putty

Plumbers putty is mainly made of clay powder and linseed oil, although it may contain other ingredients such as fish oil, limestone, or talc. It is useful in creating watertight seals, but it should not be used to prevent leaks in pipe joints. One advantage of using plumbers putty is that it is easy to mold and manipulate. It is commonly used to seal drains, faucets, showers, and pop-up plugs.

The Benefits of Using Silicone

On the other hand, silicone sealant is more elastic and adheres more strongly than plumbers putty, making it more difficult to remove. Unlike plumbers putty, silicone is made of a rubbery substance and adapts better to temperature changes. It is commonly used as a sealing material around pipes, sinks, showers, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures. It comes in different colors and does not crack or peel off surfaces like traditional putty does.

If the user needs a temporary or easy-to-manipulate solution, plumbers putty is a good option. However, if the user requires a more permanent or strong solution, silicone is the better choice. It’s important to use the appropriate material for the application and the material being worked on. Plumbers putty is biodegradable, while silicone contains harmful chemicals for the environment and health.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing Between Plumbers Putty and Silicone

If you are looking for a reliable sealing agent for your plumbing projects, you may be confused between using putty or silicone. Before making a choice, it is important to consider the nature of your plumbing project and the type of seal that you want to create.

Considerations for Different Types of Plumbing Projects

When it comes to sealing drains, faucets, showers, and pop-ups, plumbers putty is an effective and easy to use option. Made from powdered clay and linseed oil, plumbers putty is primarily used to create watertight seals. However, it is not recommended for use in preventing leaks in pipe joints.

On the other hand, if you want a more flexible and durable seal, silicone caulk would be a better choice. Unlike putty, silicone is made of a rubber-like substance that adheres more strongly and has greater elasticity.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Product for Your Needs

Choosing the right product for your plumbing needs is crucial to ensure that the repair or installation is safe and long-lasting. Putting factors such as permanence, strength, and application requirements into consideration will help you choose wisely between putty and silicone.

While putty is useful for sealing sinks, faucets, showers, and pop-ups, silicone is better suited for creating stronger seals around pipes, sinks, showers, and toilets. Additionally, unlike putty, silicone does not crack or peel off surfaces such as tile, metal, or porcelain.

It is important to remember that putty is biodegradable, while silicone contains chemicals harmful to the environment and human health. Avoid exposing putty to UV rays to prevent it from deteriorating.

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In conclusion, both putty and silicone are essential tools for every plumber’s toolbox, but the choice between the two depends on the plumbing project’s nature. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each, you’ll be able to make a better-informed decision.

Frecuently Asked Question about can i use plumbers putty instead of silicone

Is it better to use silicone or plumbers putty on a shower drain?

Silicone vs. Plumbers Putty: Which is the Better Choice for Shower Drain?

When it comes to sealing a shower drain, there are two popular options available: silicone and plumbers putty. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but which one is the better choice?

Plumbers Putty:

Plumbers putty is a soft, moldable substance that is used to create a watertight seal around joints and fixtures. It is typically made from a mixture of clay and fish oil, which gives it a soft, pliable texture that is easy to work with.

One of the best things about plumbers putty is that it is affordable and readily available at most hardware stores. It is also non-toxic and won’t damage your plumbing or fixtures.

However, plumbers putty can dry out over time, which can cause it to crack and deteriorate. This can lead to leaks and other plumbing problems.


Silicone is a popular choice for sealing shower and tub drains because of its flexibility and durability. It is made from a synthetic polymer that is resistant to water, heat, and chemicals.

Unlike plumbers putty, silicone won’t dry out or crack over time, which means it can provide a long-lasting, watertight seal. It is also easy to apply and can be molded to fit around fixtures and drain pipes.

However, silicone can be more expensive than plumbers putty, and it can be difficult to remove if you need to make repairs or replace the drain.

The Verdict:

So, which one is the better choice for sealing a shower drain? Ultimately, it depends on your specific needs and preferences.

If you want an affordable, easy-to-use option that will provide a watertight seal for a few years, then plumbers putty is a great choice. However, if you want a more durable and long-lasting option that can withstand the test of time, then silicone is probably your best bet.

In conclusion, choosing between plumbers putty and silicone comes down to the specific application and personal preference. Whether you are repairing a leak or installing a new fixture, both products have their advantages and disadvantages. To ensure you make the right choice for your plumbing project, consider the key differences between plumbers putty and silicone and the considerations discussed in this article. If you want to learn more about plumbing and DIY projects, be sure to check out the other articles on my blog I Can Find It Out!

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