Can I Use Stain-Free Plumber’s Putty On Stainless Steel?

Perhaps you’re reading through a plumbing project tutorial online and come across plumber’s putty in the materials list. Plumber’s putty is a go-to material for sealing various plumbing projects, but it’s primarily used on sinks, faucets, and drains. In recent years, many drain and faucet setups come with rubber gaskets, which usually eliminates the need for plumber’s putty. 

However, plumber’s putty remains a commonly used compound for sealing sinks. Some materials don’t work well with generic plumber’s putty, including stainless steel and natural stone. So, you might wonder if stain-free plumber’s putty will do the trick. 

While stain-free plumber’s putty works well for porous surfaces, like natural stone, it isn’t always the best for stainless steel. If you’re sealing a stainless steel sink with plumber’s putty, be sure to pick an option designed for use with stainless steel. We’ll discuss this more in the following sections, so continue reading to learn more!

What Is Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a thick, clay-like substance used for sealing faucets, drains, and other areas. The texture of plumber’s putty is similar to Play-Doh, so it’s easy to use, making it a popular choice for various plumbing projects.

To use it, you simply need to warm a small amount of putty in your hands. The putty will be cold and hard at first, but after working with it, it will become pliable. To seal a drain with plumber’s putty, you would simply roll a rope of putty that matches the circumference of the drain. 

Once you form the rope, fit it into the sink drain, then firmly push the drain or fixture in place over the top of it. This ensures a watertight seal and mitigates the chances of a leak. 

When Should You Use Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is the ideal choice for many situations, but it isn’t the suitable pick for some. It’s perfect for creating watertight seals between surfaces, such as drains, faucets, and sinks. 

Using it is straightforward, and since it resembles the consistency of Play-Doh, it’s easy to work with and doesn’t dry rapidly (so you have more time to fix mistakes). So, if you mess up the application, you can take it off and try again. Or, if you use too much putty on an application, you can remove the excess putty from around the sink, drain, or faucet and use it for a different application. 

When Shouldn’t You Use Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty isn’t the best option for some situations. For example, you should avoid using it in areas where you need adhesive strength, as it won’t work as well as you hope. On top of that, avoid using it in exposed areas that require a watertight seal. 

In addition, regular plumber’s putty often contains oil, which can seep into porous surfaces, such as natural stone. It leaves behind a dark stain, so you should avoid using regular plumber’s putty in these situations unless it’s explicitly designed for that material. 

Can You Use Plumber’s Putty On Stainless Steel?

Plumber’s putty isn’t always safe to use on stainless steel products, like for sealing the drain in a stainless steel sink. Some newer stainless steel sinks aren’t compatible with plumber’s putty, so you need to select an alternative to this compound for sealing sinks and filling gaps. 

However, since more and more sinks come with their own drain setup featuring rubber gaskets, plumber’s putty isn’t always necessary. The main concern with sealing sinks is often the space around the sink, where there’s a gap between the sink and the countertop where water could get in.

That said, you can use plumber’s putty on stainless steel, providing it’s explicitly marked as safe for stainless steel. Even then, it might be a gamble as to whether it’ll damage your sink, as some sinks feature a warning against using plumber’s putty on the packaging.

What Can I Use Instead Of Plumber’s Putty?

The most common substitute for plumber’s putty is caulk, specifically silicone caulk. This material is durable, easy to work with, and works on almost any material. You can use it to fill gaps around windows, doors, toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, pipes, drains, and many more. 

However, there are a few exceptions to this, so double-check whether you can use silicone caulk before applying it to your project. For example, you shouldn’t use it on wood or painted surfaces. Paint won’t adhere to silicone caulk, and digging the compound out of wood at the end of its lifespan is a nightmare. 

When Should I Use Non-Staining Plumber’s Putty?

Stain-free plumber’s putty is ideal for various applications. Each brand outlines its best uses, so specific uses may vary from one to the next. For example, some brands of stain-free plumber’s putty are safe for use on granite, marble, quartz, sandstone, and other similar materials. They’re usually oil-free, so they won’t seep into porous materials and leave behind deep-set stains. 

Avoid using non-staining plumber’s putty on stainless steel sinks unless the packaging explicitly states it’s safe for use on this material. 

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