If you’re sealing a bathtub drain, is it better to use plumber’s putty or silicone? The answer depends on the drainage pipe.
You need to know exactly where you’re sealing to determine which material works better.
As a general rule, plumber’s putty is ideal for simple drain projects. It molds more easily than silicone and creates a watertight seal with ease.
But if you’re going to be sealing any piping, you should definitely be using silicone instead of putty.
When To Use Plumber’s Putty or Silicone
To figure out which material you need, you’ll need to find the access panel of your bathtub. It’s typically below or beside the tub.
When you open the panel, you can get to the pipe underneath the bathtub drain.
For the drain itself, plumber’s putty is the best solution. The material makes waterproof seals with wet surfaces.
If you need to seal the drainpipe, you’ll want to use silicone. Caulk is important to sealing pipes because it creates watertight seals that don’t wash away.
Using Plumber’s Putty
Anyone who’s done DIY home improvement projects is probably familiar with the concept of plumber’s putty. This putty is thick and easily molded, somewhat like clay.
You can use it to create a waterproof seal over the drain of your bathtub.
You’ll need to do some disassembly and reassembly to make the putty work properly, though.
Plumber’s putty is a popular choice for basic drain sealing operations because of how easy it is to work with. You can simply mold it to whatever shape you need in order to get the correct seal.
Keep in mind, though, that you absolutely cannot use plumber’s putty to stopper leaky pipes. You can stretch it over the wide mouth of a drain, but if you use it for a pressurized water pipe, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Pros and Cons
Easy to mold to unique shapes, so it fits the drain well
Dense enough to stretch across wide gaps
Great for use on the drain itself
Using it for pressurized pipe sealing is dangerous
How To Apply Plumber’s Putty
Below the drain, you should find a nut that’s been used as part of the installation. Take this out.
This will loosen the drain lip.
You can typically find the nut on the part of the drainpipe directly below the bathtub.
After you’ve unscrewed the nut and loosened the drain, follow these steps:
Squeeze out putty and roll it very thinly.
When the diameter is about 1/4th of an inch, roll this around the drain lip.
It will create a watertight seal to prevent leaks in the future.
Put the nut back in and tighten it.
This will tighten the lip of the drain around the putty so you get a tight seal.