Plumber Putty vs. Silicon Caulking

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Maintaining both the interior and exterior of your home is important if you want to maintain the quality around your living area, and keep the price of your home up if you ever want to sell. This includes updating appliances, floors, solving any plumbing or electrical issues, and frequently cleaning up to rid the house of any dust or decay. It is very important to look at issues right away as the longer you put them off, and the more you concentrate on other things, the worse it will get.

Nowadays, many people want to fix things themselves around the house, rather than hire a professional to do it. We strongly recommend learning how to do things yourself because it is going to save a lot of money as professional electricians and plumbers can cost you a great deal.

If there is a larger problem that is over your head, by all means hire the professional. What we are talking about is small things around the home, such as filling a crack that has come open or reinstalling a kitchen faucet or sink.

When doing plumbing jobs around the home, you are going to come to a point where you are going to need putty or silicon caulking. For many of you, these might seem like foreign words that you’ve never heard of before, but that’s okay. We are going to review them both for you and solve the age-old question: Which is better—plumber putty or silicon caulking?

What is plumber putty?

Before we get into which is better for your job, we have to understand what each one is. So, as we all probably have experienced, water leaks are one of the most common problems that happen within a household.

Plumber putty is one of the most important things that can be found in a plumber’s toolbox. The putty is a soft, pliable sealing compound that is used to seal cracks or spaces around faucets or drains. These seals are watertight and no water will leak through the best putties available for purchase today.

The reason plumbers decide to use putty is because it has been designed to remain soft for a long period of time, without breaking that watertight seal. This allows a plumber, or you, to remove the drain when you want to replace it.

Where is plumber putty used?

The putty is mostly used at the base of faucets, or other fixtures around the bathroom before setting them onto the sink. You can also use it on basket strainers and pop-up drains around the house. The best kind of putty is easy to roll and very pliable; think of it as a more high-end play dough.

If you come across a putty that is really hard to rolls and begins to crack, that means it is too old and it is time to get a new one. There are a multitude of brands of plumber putty available both in store and online at a reasonable price.

What is silicon caulking?

Caulking is very similar to plumber putty, but with vast differences. Caulking is usually put on to seal cracks around the home and prevent any moisture from building up.

It is sometimes referred to as rubberized silicone caulk, because of its extremely rubbery texture. This allows it, just like putty, to be flexible for a long period of time without any cracking or distortion. This allows it to maintain a waterproof seal, which is why it is also used around bathtubs, sinks, and showers. Just a warning—there is also acrylic caulk available, but it is not to be used around moist areas, as it will crack and break over time.

Caulking actually dates back many years, to the time when old shipbuilders would put caulking in between the planks to make the ship watertight on the sea. Caulking is also used to hide any gaps in woodworking and to fill cracks on ceilings and walls. Caulking is usually used for larger jobs as opposed to putty.

The differences

Now that you know what plumber putty and silicon caulking are it is time to see what their differences are. Their similarities are pretty straightforward; they both close up cracks around the bathroom to hold things in place. They are both very flexible, and even look the same at times, however they are very different.

Plumber putty has been on the market for a longer time than silicon caulk, so silicon is a newer invention. Plumber putty is usually made out of high calcite lime and linseed oil; these natural oils allow it to last hundreds of years on a spot while maintaining its hold. Silicon caulk still lasts a long time, usually just over 10 years, but will not last as long as plumber putty.

Plumber putty does need maintaining over time, in order to last; this requires checking on it and maybe reapplying linseed oil onto the putty itself. Silicon caulk has no way of extending the lifespan, such as plumber putty, but is sometimes even stronger right away. Many people agree that plumber putty is usually used for the details, and silicon caulking is used for the bigger jobs.

Plumber putty is easy to apply and works especially well in smaller spaces, while silicon caulking is better for a larger job that are easier to maintain. The one thing silicon caulking has against plumber putty is that it can dry faster, allowing you to move the job along more quickly. Putty may take several days to dry; however, many people use it just for a quick job to hold something in place.


At the end of the day, both plumber putty and silicon caulking are fantastic ways to keep up on the maintenance of your house. It all depends what job you need them for.

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