how long does plumbers putty take to dry

How Long Does Plumbers Putty Take To Dry?

Last Updated: January 2, 2024By

Plumbers putty is a versatile and essential sealing material in plumbing projects, playing a crucial role in creating a watertight seal. However, its drying time is critical for ensuring its effectiveness and durability. This article explores How Long Does Plumbers Putty Take To Dry, its composition, applications, and its differences from other sealing materials. It also provides insights into the typical drying time range and offers tips for accelerating the process when necessary. By understanding the drying time of plumbers’ putty, you will be better equipped to make informed decisions during your plumbing projects.

What Is Plumbers Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a flexible and moldable sealant commonly used in plumbing applications. It is a soft and pliable substance that resembles clay or dough in texture. The putty comprises a combination of mineral fillers, such as limestone or talc, and a binding agent, usually linseed or fish oil. This composition gives plumber’s putty unique properties, making it easy to work with and shape into various forms. It is typically off-white or gray.

Where To Use Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a versatile and commonly used material in plumbing applications. It is a pliable and moldable substance primarily used to create watertight seals between joints and fixtures. One of the most common uses of plumber’s putty is sealing sink drains and faucets. When installing a sink or a faucet, the plumber’s putty is applied around the base of the fixture before it is tightened down. The putty fills the gaps and prevents water from leaking out. Plumber’s putty seals pipes and fittings, ensuring a tight, leak-free connection. However, it should not be used on porous surfaces or near drinking water, and silicone caulk is recommended.

Factors Affecting Drying Time

Understanding factors affecting plumbers’ putty drying time is crucial for good dries and reliable seal formation. Here are the key factors that can affect the drying time of plumbers’ putty:


Temperature is a critical factor influencing drying time. When a substance is exposed to higher temperatures, the kinetic energy of its molecules increases, resulting in an accelerated evaporation rate. This is because the increased energy causes the liquid molecules to overcome intermolecular forces and transition into a gaseous state rapidly. Conversely, lower temperatures slow the drying process by reducing the molecules’ kinetic energy and limiting their ability to escape as vapor. It is important to note that excessively high temperatures can cause some materials to dry too quickly, leading to issues like cracking or incomplete curing.


Humidity refers to the amount of moisture present in the air. High humidity levels can extend drying time as the air is already saturated with moisture, creating a barrier that inhibits the substance from releasing its moisture. The higher the humidity, the slower the evaporation rate. On the other hand, low humidity levels facilitate faster drying because the surrounding air can absorb more moisture. In low-humidity environments, the concentration gradient between the substance and the air is greater, promoting faster evaporation.


Adequate airflow and ventilation are crucial for effective drying. Proper ventilation allows moisture to be carried away from the drying substance, expediting evaporation. When there is good airflow, the moist air surrounding the substance is continuously replaced with drier air. Insufficient ventilation, however, can trap moisture, prolonging drying time. This is particularly important in enclosed spaces or when drying materials with high moisture content.

Thickness of the material

The thickness or depth of the material being dried is an important consideration. Thicker materials take longer to dry since moisture must evaporate from the surface and the interior. The outer layer may dry quickly, forming a protective barrier that slows down the evaporation of moisture from the deeper layers. Thinner layers or coatings dry more quickly as the moisture travels shorter distances and can evaporate more readily.

Type of material

Different materials have varying drying times due to their inherent properties. Factors such as composition, density, and the presence of solvents or drying agents can influence drying time. For example, oil-based paints tend to dry slower than water-based paints due to solvents needing to evaporate. Similarly, porous materials like wood or concrete may absorb moisture, which prolongs drying time as the material must release the absorbed moisture.

Application method

The method of application can impact drying time. Applying a substance in thin, even layers promotes faster drying than thick or uneven applications. When a substance is applied in a thick layer, it takes longer for moisture to escape, leading to extended drying times. Additionally, uneven applications may result in areas that dry faster or slower than others, causing inconsistencies in the drying process.

Environmental conditions

Various environmental conditions can affect drying time. Altitude, for instance, can impact the air pressure, which influences the boiling point and evaporation rate of liquids. Higher altitudes generally have lower air pressure, causing liquids to evaporate more quickly. Similarly, air movement, such as wind or drafts, can enhance drying by increasing evaporation. Conversely, stagnant or still air can impede drying by creating a humidity barrier around the substance.

How Long Does Plumbers Putty Take To Dry?

The typical drying time for plumbers’ putty is 24 to 48 hours. However, it’s important to note that drying time can vary based on factors such as ambient temperature, humidity levels, the thickness of the putty application, and the specific brand or formulation of the putty being used.

In optimal conditions with moderate temperatures and low humidity, plumbers’ putty may dry within 24 hours. Warmer temperatures and lower humidity levels expedite the drying process, allowing the putty to dry within the lower end of the typical time frame. On the other hand, cooler temperatures and higher humidity can prolong the drying time, extending it closer to the upper end of the range or beyond.

How To Use Plumber’s Putty?

Using a plumber’s putty is a straightforward process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use plumber’s putty effectively:

  • Step 1: Prepare the surface: Before applying the plumber’s putty, it’s important to ensure the surface is clean and free from dirt, debris, or old sealant remnants. Use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe the surface thoroughly, removing any contaminants that may interfere with the adhesion of the putty. Make sure the surface is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.
  • Step 2: Take a small amount of putty: Once the surface is prepared, take a small amount of plumber’s putty from the container. The amount needed will depend on the joint size or fixture you work with. It’s generally better to start with a smaller amount and add more if necessary. The plumber’s soft and pliable putty, so you can easily shape and mold it to fit the specific application.
  • Step 3: Roll the putty: Roll the putty between your hands or on a clean, smooth surface to create a rope-like shape. The rolling action helps to soften the putty and makes it easier to work with. Aim for a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch or as required for the specific application. Rolling also helps ensure the putty is evenly mixed and free from air bubbles.
  • Step 4: Apply the putty: Place the rolled putty around the base of the fixture or joint where the seal is needed. Gently press and mold the putty to ensure full contact with the surface. Apply consistent pressure to create a uniform seal. You can stretch or shape the putty to fit irregular shapes or gaps if necessary. Leave enough space to tighten the fixture without squeezing out excess putty.
  • Step 5: Tighten the fixture: Once the putty is applied, tighten the fixture or joint as required. For example, if you are sealing a sink drain, insert the drain assembly into the drain opening and tighten the retaining nut from underneath the sink. Ensure that you tighten the fixture without displacing or distorting the putty.
  • Step 6: Remove excess putty: After tightening the fixture, remove any excess putty using a clean cloth or your fingers. Gently wipe away the excess putty, taking care not to disturb the seal you have created. A clean and neat finish will enhance the appearance of the installation.
  • Step 7: Allow the putty to cure: Plumber’s putty requires some time to cure and form a reliable, watertight seal. The curing time can vary depending on factors such as temperature and humidity. Generally, it is recommended to allow the putty to cure for at least 24 hours before exposing it to water or pressure. Avoid using the fixture or applying stress to the seal during this curing period.

When Not To Use Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a common sealing material in plumbing, but it’s not recommended for use on porous surfaces like marble or granite. It can seep into the pores, causing staining or discoloration over time. Instead, use non-staining silicone caulk or a sealant designed for porous materials. Plumber’s putty can cause issues with plastics like ABS or PVC due to its chemicals, leading to degradation or discoloration. To avoid this, consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or use an alternative sealant specifically designed for plastic-to-plastic or plastic-to-metal connections. Understanding these limitations and finding suitable alternatives ensures successful and long-lasting plumbing installation.

How Long Will Plumber Putty Last?

The longevity of a plumber’s putty depends on factors like quality, application, and environmental conditions. Generally, it provides a reliable seal for several years. Proper application and maintenance can sometimes last 5 to 10 years or even longer. Over time, a plumber’s putty may dry out, harden, or lose its adhesive properties, compromising its sealant effectiveness. Extreme temperatures, chemicals, and frequent movement can accelerate this deterioration. Regular inspection and replacement are recommended to maintain seal integrity. Some plumbing fixtures or manufacturers may provide guidelines for putty lifespan, so follow them for optimal performance.

Can You Use Plumbers Putty Under Water?

Plumbers putty is a sealant used to create watertight joints between plumbing fixtures, such as faucets, drains, and pipes. It is usually applied to the base of the fixture before it is installed on the sink, tub, or shower. Plumber putty is designed to remain soft and flexible so it can conform to the shape of the joint and resist shrinking or cracking over time.

However, plumbers’ putty is not meant to be used underwater, as it can dissolve or wash away when exposed to water pressure or moisture. If a plumber’s putty is used underwater, it can cause leaks, damage, and corrosion to the plumbing system. Therefore, plumbers’ putty should only be used above the waterline, where it can stay dry and intact.

A different sealant, such as pipes or drains, should be used for underwater joints, such as silicone caulk, epoxy, or thread seal tape. These sealants are waterproof and can withstand water pressure and temperature changes. They also create a stronger and more durable bond than plumbers’ putty. To use these sealants, the joint should be cleaned and dried thoroughly before applying the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The sealant should cure for the recommended time before turning on the water.

Differences Between Plumber’s Putty and Silicone

Property Plumber’s Putty Silicone
Composition Putty-like, clay or oil-based Flexible polymer
Application Sealing around sinks, drains, and plumbing fixtures Sealing, bonding, and caulking in various applications
Flexibility Less flexible, suitable for static applications Highly flexible, accommodates movement
Curing Time Sets and hardens over several hours to a day Cures within 24 hours, but depends on product type
Removability It can be removed but may leave residue It can be removed with ease, leaving minimal residue
Common Uses Sealing pipes, drains, and plumbing fixtures Sealing windows, doors, and general caulking


Will Plumber’s Putty Dry Hard?

Yes, the plumber’s putty will dry hard. Once it cures and dries completely, it forms a solid and rigid seal.

Is Plumber Putty Permanent?

Plumber’s putty is not a permanent sealing solution, as it may deteriorate over time, requiring reapplication or maintenance for long-lasting seals.

Does the Plumber’s Putty Shrink?

No, plumbers’ putty does not shrink significantly once applied and dries. It retains its shape and size, providing a stable and reliable seal.

What Happens If Putty Gets Wet?

Putty should be dried and cured completely before use, as wetting it may cause improper adhesion and potential loss of sealant effectiveness. Allow the putty to dry completely before exposing it to water or moisture for optimal performance.

What Happens If You Use Plumbers’ Putty On Plastic?

Using a plumber’s putty on plastic can damage the material and cause leaks due to poor adhesion. Plumber’s putty is not suitable for use on plastic surfaces; use silicone-based sealants designed for plastic instead.


Plumbers putty is a crucial sealing material in plumbing applications, but understanding its drying time and factors is essential for successful seals. It’s critical to consider project requirements and surface conditions and consider alternative options like silicone for long-term durability. Proper application techniques and sufficient drying time contribute to leak-free installations and ensure long-lasting seals.

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Claire Lower

Claire is LiveandFeel Senior Food Editor. She has a BS in chemistry, a decade of food journalism experience, and a deep love for mayonnaise and MSG. As a Senior Food & Beverage Writer for liveandfeel, where I generate exciting content covering topics such as culinary trends, recipes, and perhaps even health and wellness aspects related to food. that not only informs but also captivates a sizable audience.

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