Best Plumbers Putty (Professional Perspective)

Being a Master Plumber, I have used many different brands of plumbers putty.

“What is the best plumber’s putty?”

People ask me about this all the time.  You’ve come to the right place! In this post I’ll answer this and many other questions that revolve around the topic of sealing with putty.

1. Sta Put by Hercules

This is by far the most popular plumber’s putty and is used by the majority of plumbers in the field.  I personally have used this putty for numerous years installing plumbing fixtures.

It is by far the highest quality putty in the market.  Oatey has been around for quite some time and has established themselves as a leader in their industry and very reputable.  Why else would the vast majority of professional plumbers use their product?

You can use this putty on any number of plumbing fixtures including basin cocks, bowls, sink faucets, sink frames, bowls, plugs and strainers.

Word of Warning:  Do NOT use this putty on “natural products.”  This would include granite, marble, quartz/sandstone, corian etc.  Sta Put contains oil in their mixture which can leach out and stain these materials!

If you’re installing a fixture using one of these materials, use the next putty that I recommend.

PROS:

  • Extremely high quality putty from a reputable company.
  • Most professional plumber use this so you know it will work.
  • Very reputable company

CONS:

  • It Cannot be used with granite, quartz/sandstone, marble or corian.
  • More expensive than other products but very minute.
  • Will dry out eventually(15-20 years).  If left undisturbed, it won’t matter.

To use the same putty as the professionals use, head over to Amazon and get some for yourself!

2.  Stain-Free by Oatey

Stain-free plumbers putty is the only putty that I use when working with natural materials.  It is manufactured by the same company as Sta put but with a very specific application.

Unlike Stay Put, Stain-free DOES NOT contain any oil so it’s safe to use with granite or stone.  Since there is no oil, it cannot leach out and stain the material. Hence the name; Stain-free.

Just like Stay put, this is a dependable, robust product.  It will provide a watertight seal every time. And because it’s a product from Oatey, this compound will last a very long time without breaking or cracking while being used.

PROS:

  • Does not contain oil so it’s safe to use on natural materials.
  • Durable and high quality sealing compound.
  • Easy installation, handling and clean up.
  • MADE IN USA

CONS:

  • You cannot use this product on ABS pipe or fittings.

For your oil free installations make sure and get stain-free by Oatey.

3.  Sta Put Ultra by Hercules

Before you go out and purchase Sta Put Ultra because you think it’s a superior product, you need to make sure you actually need it.  For the majority of plumbing projects Sta Put is a perfectly decent putty to use.

Sta Put Ultra was created for applications where stainless-steel is used.  Like Stain-free, this polymer has no oil in so it’s safe to use on porous surfaces.

Not only can it be used on natural materials such as granite or stone, but can also be safely used with plastics, fiberglass, or rubber.

PROS:

  • This putty is permanently pliable and will never harden.
  • Can be used on “any” porous surfaces.
  • It is non-toxic, odorless and will adhere to almost any surface.
  • Sta Put Ultra won’t melt, dry out, crack, or rot.

CONS:

  • Cannot be used on ABS piping or fittings.
  • Can be a bit greasy.

If you need a heavier duty putty for your project head over to Amazon for Sta Put Ultra.

Plumber’s putty uses

Plumber’s putty is used when you need a watertight seal between two hard surfaces.  An example would be between a drain and sink.

The different uses that I’ve seen include:
Sealing faucets to ceramic sinks as well as bathtubs and sink drains which is the most common.

If in a pinch and have need for some thread sealant, I have mixed a slight bit of oil (vegetable)  into the putty to create a thinner mixture to use for thread seals in plumbing.

Plumber’s putty by nature is a very soft and pliable sealing compound.  The main ingredient is powdered clay and linseed oil, lending to its ease of use and mess free handling.

Other uses for this compound would include sealing faucets to sinks, sinks to drains, bathtubs to drain pipes and certain fittings.  You can even use it to seal certain slow leaks.

In the 50’s and 60’s plumber’s putty was used as a seal for toilet installations.  This was before the wax ring became more common. If you’re in a bind and happen to have a lot of plumbers putty and no wax ring, plumber’s putty can be a temporary solution to installing a toilet.

Plumber’s putty vs silicone: Which to use

This has been a long time disagreement among plumbers. It just depends upon your use. I used silicone strictly to seal drains to shower pans or if faucets mounted directly to stone tops. That’s where it stopped for me! Besides, I dislike having to clean up what silicone leaves behind when installing new fixtures.

Using putty vs silicone allows you to remove faucets, sinks or tubs much, much easier than if silicone was used as a seal.

When you use silicone you have to scrape it off both parts of whatever you’re trying to take apart.

As a rule of thumb, you should only consider using putty for drain parts where water pressure isn’t part of the scenario.

How long does plumber’s putty take to dry?

Plumber’s putty doesn’t typically dry for some time (20+ years).  Especially if undisturbed.

The very nature of the make up of this compound allows it to not actually dry out so that you’re water tight seal doesn’t lose its ability to seal.  (If it did, there would be no use for plumber’s putty)

Another benefit of using putty is that you can use whatever you’re installing, immediately after installation.

When not to use plumber’s putty?

To clear up confusion that some people have, I created a list of situations where the use of plumbers putty would be a bad idea.

First off, as I’ve said, do not use this sealant where you have any kind of water pressure.  The pressure of the water will push right through this putty. (Plumbers putty is not a substitute for glue or cement.)

How to remove plumber’s putty?

Plumber’s putty is easily removed.  Since it’s a clay like material and soft you can usually simply wipe it away.  If it’s been recent, simply roll it up into a ball and you can reuse it.

When installing fixtures, excess putty will seep out between the two parts you’re connecting. (If it doesn’t you may not have enough putty in there)  After you have tightened these down, you can use a rag or even your finger to wipe the excess putty from the fixture.

When you are removing a fixture, it may be a little more difficult.  Depending on the amount of time the putty was used, you might have a dried up mess.  Yes, plumber’s putty can be dried if enough time has passed.(We’re talking 15-20 years)

In this instance, you basically just have to use a scraper or razor and scrape it away from both parts.  It should crack and crumble away like dirt if this is the case.

Final Thoughts!

In my many years as a Master Plumber, Sta Put by Hercules was my go to plumber’s putty.  It is incredibly versatile and is a great putty for more than 90% of plumbing installations.