Plumber’s putty – the good clay-like stuff you apply to seal leaks under your sink, under faucets and much more.
Plumber’s putty isn’t the same as silicone caulk, and is a handy thing to have in a plumber’s toolkit and homeowner’s toolkit.
But one of the common questions readers ask is “how long does plumbers putty take to dry?” when applied under sink drains, used as seals around faucets and other areas.
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What is Plumber Putty?
Any home is prone to water leaks whether it’s pop up drain fittings, drains in sinks, plumbing fixtures, base of faucets, around your kitchen sink drain opening or around other sink fixtures, for which plumbers putty is a good and almost immediate fix.
This Play-Doh-like fixture setting compound is soft and flexible and is designed to create a watertight seal when it’s applied to a faucet base and other areas.
Plumbers putty is a pliable substance doesn’t possess any adhesive strength, therefore can’t be used to join two parts together permanently.
This, however, is also one of the benefits of plumber’s putty, as you can use plumbers putty to seal leaks around leaky faucets, and sink strainers and accessories, and remove the putty at a later time when moving or replacing plumbing fixtures.
On the downside, plumbers putty isn’t an ideal choice for porous surfaces like granite and marble, and cannot be used as a substitute for silicone caulk. You can find our post discussing plumbers putty vs silicone caulking here, when and where which should be used.
How Long Does it Take for Plumbers Putty to Dry?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting a few hours or several hours to run their water faucets after applying plumbers putty. Well, guess what, plumbers putty isn’t going to dry, not at least for the next 10 – 15 years.
So, put simply, there’s no plumbers putty dry time, and it is good to go as soon as you install it properly and stick the two pieces together.
Even though the ideal drying time of this basic component of a plumber’s toolkit is 10 – 15 years, you don’t have to wait for this long time duration to complete your plumbing project because your bathroom sink or kitchen sink is ready after you’ve achieved the right seals between surfaces.
How Soon Can You Use the Sink After Applying Plumbers Putty?
Whether it’s your sink, faucet, or shower, you can use the fixture immediately after applying the putty and putting the part in place.
It’s a good idea to wait about 5 minutes after applying the putty to run the water and check if the leak in the bathroom sink or faucet fixture has been fixed. If the leak is still present, separate the parts, and apply more plumbers putty.
Can You Use Plumber’s Putty Underwater?
Short answer is no! Plumbers putty cannot be used for underwater applications because it doesn’t create a bonding watertight fit, but instead creates only watertight seals.
Plumber’s putty is good for applications that involve sinks, faucets, and drains to prevent water from seeping through.
How Long Does Plumbers Putty Last?
The formulations of plumber’s putty vary, but mostly contain powdered clay, and linseed oil, while other formulations have talc, limestone or fish oil.
The chemical compound in plumber’s putty has a specific gravity of 2.0g/cm³, therefore doesn’t dry out but instead the product remains flexible.
However, just like any other compound, plumber’s putty will degrade over time, and lose its ability to flex and seal.
Plumber’s putty is white in color, and is available in small tubs. Unopened tubs can be stored for up to 24 months in cool dry conditions between 41℉ (+5 °C23 °C) to 73℉ (+23°C).
Adding to this, tubs of plumber’s putty should be stored away from direct sunlight and protected from frost, as exposure to these elements may reduce the shelf life and performance of the product.
Most manufacturers recommend that you use the putty within a month after opening the tub.
How to Apply Plumber’s Putty?
Before applying plumber putty, the first and most important thing to do is clean the surface thoroughly. Dust, debris, old sealant, and other loose materials should be eliminated including traces of grease if present.
You can clean the area to be sealed with a damp cloth and wipe it down again with a dry cloth. Once the area is clean, reach into the putty box, grab a small ball of putty, roll it into a sausage roll, just as you would with Play-Doh, and apply putty on surfaces and putty in spots that you wish to seal.
Place this sausage roll into the area to be joined and sealed. Apply gentle pressure for the putty to stick to the surface, after which you can flip the part and connect it with the mating part. Excess putty can be easily wiped away with your finger.
Good Applications for Plumbers Putty
Plumber’s putty is a go to solution to create watertight seals between bath fittings, sinks, vanity units and seal joints in other bathroom fixtures. Installation with putty is not suited for plastic materials or porous stone, as it may cause staining and cracks and leaks when applied to plastic due to accelerated fatigue.
Adding to this, plumber’s putty shouldn’t be used for connections between pipes that are used fro supplying hot or cold water, because in most cases they have too much water pressure.
Plumber’s putty is perfect for use below sink fixtures, base of taps, bath drains, and kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Getting back to the big question, how long does plumbers putty take to dry completely. The answer is that there’s no plumbers putty harden time, so you don’t have to wait for plumbers putty to dry to create seals, and that’s the beauty of this sealant.
What’s even better is that putty can be removed easily in the event you’re moving or removing fixtures.
Plumbers use plumber’s putty on taps, basket strainers, a leaking drain assembly, drain pipes, sinks and toilets, and can be used immediately without waiting for the installation to dry.
It works well on ceramic surfaces but not on PVC sanitary pipes, porous materials/surfaces like stone or granite, in exposed areas or as a marine adhesive, for which we suggest silicone caulk as a sealant, which also happens to be a great plumber putty alternative.
You also don’t have to use plumbers putty to install a sink drain as a rubber gasket should be enough to do the trick. In fact, most sink drains come with their own rubber gasket, so you don’t have to buy one separately.
Further, plumbers putty shouldn’t be used high pressure joints, plastic pipes and fittings, and between a wall, sink or bath unit.