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?

Plumbers putty is a flexible, moldable sealing compound commonly used in plumbing applications. It is a soft, pliable clay-like substance that creates watertight seals between surfaces in plumbing fixtures like sinks, drains, and faucets. Its composition consists of mineral fillers like limestone or talc mixed with oils or synthetic polymers for consistency and flexibility. This unique formulation allows for easily shaped and molded fittings for various plumbing components. Its main advantage is its ability to create a tight seal on irregular or uneven surfaces. It is resistant to water, chemicals, and temperature changes, making it suitable for indoor and outdoor plumbing applications.

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:

  • Composition of the Plumber’s Putty: Different brands or formulations of plumbers may have varying drying times. The specific piece of the putty, including the type and amount of fillers and binders used, can influence how quickly it dries.
  • Ambient Temperature and Humidity: The temperature and humidity of the surrounding environment play a significant role in the drying process. Warmer temperatures and lower humidity levels generally promote faster drying, while cooler temperatures and higher humidity can slow the drying time.
  • Thickness and Size of the Application: The thickness and size of the putty application can affect how long it takes to dry. Thicker layers of putty may take longer to dry compared to thinner layers. Similarly, larger applications may require more time to fully dry.
  • Type of Surface Being Sealed: The nature of the surface being sealed can impact the drying time of plumbers’ putty. Porous surfaces, such as wood or unglazed ceramics, may absorb moisture from the putty, prolonging the drying process. Non-porous surfaces, such as metal or glazed ceramics, facilitate quicker drying.

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:

  • Prepare the surface: Ensure that the surface you will work on is clean, dry, and free from dirt, debris, or old sealant residues. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth if necessary.
  • Prepare the plumber’s putty: Take a sufficient amount of the plumber’s putty from the container. Start by kneading and rolling it in your hands to make it pliable and easy to work with. The putty should be soft and malleable.
  • Shape the putty: Roll the putty into a rope-like shape with a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Adjust the length according to the size of the area you need to seal. You can always cut off any excess putty later.
  • Apply the putty: Gently press the putty onto the surface where the seal is required. Apply even pressure to ensure that the putty adheres well. If needed, slightly flatten the putty with your fingers to ensure proper contact with the surface.
  • Install the component: Place the part, such as a sink strainer or faucet, onto the putty-covered surface. Press it down firmly to create a tight seal. Any excess putty that squeezes out can be trimmed away with a putty knife or your fingers.
  • Clean up: Wipe away any excess putty or smudges with a clean cloth or sponge. It’s important to do this before the putty starts drying, as it becomes more challenging to remove once it hardens.
  • Allow drying: Let the plumber’s putty dry and cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Test for leaks: Once the putty is fully dried, test the sealed area for any leaks. Run water through the fixture or apply pressure to check for any signs of water escaping. If leaks are detected, you may need to redo the sealing process or seek professional assistance.

When Not To Use Plumber’s Putty?

While a plumber’s putty is a versatile sealing material for various plumbing applications, there are certain situations when it should not be used. First, a plumber’s putty should not be used on porous surfaces such as granite, marble, or other natural stones. The putty can stain or damage these surfaces over time. In such cases, silicone caulk or other appropriate sealants should be used instead. Additionally, a plumber’s putty is not recommended for certain plastic materials as it can cause discoloration or degradation.

How Long Will Plumber Putty Last?

Plumber’s putty’s longevity depends on quality, application, and surrounding conditions. Well-applied and dried putty can last for years without issues. However, it may lose flexibility and effectiveness over time, especially in areas exposed to constant moisture or extreme temperature changes. Factors like water quality, chemical exposure, and frequent movement of the sealed component also impact the putty’s lifespan. Regular inspections and reapplication of putty may be necessary to maintain a reliable and durable seal.

Can You Use Plumbers Putty Under Water?

Plumbers putty is a type of sealant that is 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. Plumbers 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 under water, as it can dissolve or wash away when exposed to water pressure or moisture. If plumbers putty is used under water, 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.

For joints that are under water, such as pipes or drains, a different type of sealant should be used, 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 then be allowed to cure for the recommended time before turning on the water.

Differences Between Plumber’s Putty And Silicone

Plumber’s putty and silicone are two common sealing materials in plumbing applications, with distinct characteristics and suited for different purposes.

Plumber’s putty is a clay-like substance that remains soft and pliable even after drying, making it ideal for creating watertight seals around fixtures like sinks, drains, and faucets. It is easy to work with, moldable and provides a tight seal on smooth surfaces. It is suitable for non-porous materials and can be easily removed if needed.

On the other hand, silicone is a rubbery, flexible sealant that cures into a solid, waterproof material. It is known for its durability, moisture resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures. It is commonly used for sealing joints, gaps, or cracks where flexibility and longevity are crucial. Consider the specific application and surface involved when choosing between plumber’s putty and silicone.

Plumber’s putty is suitable for non-porous surfaces. It is easily removable, while silicone is ideal for long-term durability, flexibility, and moisture resistance, especially in areas prone to water exposure or temperature flute situations.


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?

If you use a plumber’s putty on plastic, it can damage the plastic 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.