Fixing things by ourselves is great. There are certain pride and satisfaction that we enjoy after hours spent on a leaking pipe or replacement windows. One of the tasks that people usually do as a DIY project is sealing the faucets and drains. Two basic tools that people usually use to do the task are plumbers putty and caulk. But before you grab your plumbing tools and start doing the task, you have to understand the differences between plumbers putty and caulk! These two basic tools actually have different purposes, and there are particular limitations for each of them.
About Plumbers Putty
Plumbers putty is available in various container sizes, ranging from small to large tubs. You can choose the most suitable size for the plumbing installation you are working on. What is plumbers putty, actually? Well, it is literally a type of putty. It is similar to the clay that is played by children. And just like clay, plumbers putty can be shaped into various forms. However, it will dry and harden after it is exposed to the air long enough.
Contrary to the popular belief, plumbers putty is not a “duct tape”; it is simply used as a sealant to aid against water exposure. Keep in mind that plumbers putty is not suitable for plastic or metal threaded pipes, joining plastic pipes, the area between the sink and the wall, or porous materials such as granite and marble.
When installing a sink drain with plumbers putty, you have to wrap the putty surrounding the sink’s drain opening prior to installing the drain body. Simply roll the putty on the palms of your hands to create a long rope, which you wrap around the drain opening. You need to tear off any overlapping part of the rope. Afterward, the drain body is put on the top of the putty. As you tighten the nut on the bottom, some of the putty may squish out, so wipe away before the whole thing hardens.
Plumbers putty vs caulk are two different things. Silicone caulk is also used for sealing, but for different parts of the installation. It is primarily used to seal the area where the plumbing fixture meets the wall. One important thing to remember: do not use silicone caulk on anything pressurized!
Silicone caulk usually comes in a tube, but there are two varieties. The first allows you to squeeze the substance out by using hands, whereas the second requires you to use a caulk gun. It is a clear, fairly fluid substance. It will begin to form a skin after about an hour getting exposed to the air. Finally, once it is fully cured, it becomes hard but not brittle.
When installing with silicone caulk, you have to apply an even amount to either the underside of the sink drain or around the drain hole opening. Of course, some silicone caulk may squeeze out during the installation of the drain body, so wipe it off before it hardens. Silicone caulk is relatively easier to remove because you can simply use a caulk softener solution, which is available in various hardware and home improvement stores.
Plumbers putty is very easy to form, making the installation relatively easier. It is primarily used to seal the area between sink’s drain opening and the drain body. However, it is not suitable for plastic/metal-threaded pipes, porous materials, and the area between the sink and the wall. On the other hand, caulk may require the use of a caulk gun to apply. Caulk is primarily used to seal the area between the sink and the wall, but not suitable for anything pressurized.