Plumbers Putty vs Silicone Caulk

By Joe King

Plumbers putty is a pliable clay like substance that is used as a waterproof sealant for faucets, sinks, and drains. Silicone caulk is a waterproof and air-proof sealant that is used to seal gaps and crevices in multiple building applications, including sinks and faucets. Both have many similarities but there are differences that can make one or the other a better selection to seal with.

When to use putty

Plumbers putty thrives around the base of faucets and inside sinks around the drain. It is a great waterproof sealant that will help prevent leaks. A small amount of putty is placed in the hand and rolled around to prepare it for application. It can be shaped and placed where needed to completely secure and seal the desired area. The putty remains soft for a significant time after it is initially applied.

When to use caulk

Silicone caulk is a caulk primarily made from silicone that can be used is various settings. It comes in multiple colors and is a great sealant for a wide range of surfaces. This sealant is also air-proof in addition to being waterproof. The caulk is typically applied with a specialized gun that oozes it to the surface of application. It will dry relatively quickly and exercise it’s sealing capabilities.

Plumbers putty vs caulk

Putty is a great plumbing related sealant, but there are various scenarios where silicone caulk would be the better alternative. The putty can not withstand water pressure and it is not necessarily air proof. When water pressure or air tightness is a factor, caulk is the better alternative. On (threaded) pipes with high water pressure however, teflon tape is the best product to apply.


Certain plastic sinks can become stained by the use of plumbers putty, the product could potentially even weaken the structure of those sinks. Caulk is a better option in these instances. Standard putty is also ineffective against porous surfaces such as marble or granite. Caulk is very effective with such materials. There is however a special type of putty (see #1 on the list) that works great with these special and all other surfaces.

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