Pipe dope vs Teflon tape – how do you know whether it is smarter to use one or the other?
Truth be told – both create the liquid tightness in-between the threads when used properly. Without the right knowledge of these types of sealants and their usage, you can face some serious damage such as water leakage, and that is what you want to avoid.
We are sure you heard or read different discussions on this topic time and time again, and this can create some confusion next time you have to decide which type of seal to use in your home.
Deciding whether pipe dope vs Teflon tape is the best type of sealant to use usually depends on the material you plan to work on, and sometimes even on the individual needs and preferences. To save you some time for making this decision, we did the research for you.
Continue reading to easily find out which one is the right fit for your situation.
Pipe dope vs Teflon tape: Differences at First Glance
At a first glance, there are some noticeable differences between these two types of sealants. First, we have the Teflon tape, also called the ‘pipe thread sealant tape’ or simply ‘plumber’s tape’.
This sealant is basically a tape, and more so a non-adhesive one. Not to bring any confusion in, because even with the missing sticky feature, the Teflon tape still provides an effective seal to some of the pipes in a specific way it works. It does so by serving as a lubricant between the threaded pipes, which allows them to stick to each other more easily by simultaneously achieving the non-leakage effect.
What is Pipe Dope?
A pipe dope, on the other hand, is essentially a sticky compound in a can that is applied using a brush. Different terms also used for this adhesive are ‘PVC glue’ or ‘pipe glue’.
How to use pipe dope?
You simply apply it to the threaded ends of the pipes you are planning to connect, and you do so by brush, or by some other tool like a spatula (personal choice). This type of sealant is the older one on the market and is fairly popular among plumbers and other similar technicians.
This means that it’s pretty easy to find and most likely also inexpensive. It seals and prevents leakage by drying into the applied area and connecting threaded ends. What allows this dope to support the pipe mechanism is simply its chemical composition.
It is apparent that the main difference between these two sealants is the way in which they operate, which is determined by their own components.
We can see the Teflon tape is not really an adhesive, it is more of a lubricant that binds the threaded ends by holding onto the threads and creating a barrier that in turn seals and prevents leakage.
On the other hand, the old-school pipe dope is more of something you would find in a toolbox of a regular plumber, mechanic, or a DIY-er.
Even though most of the users are swearing in the simplicity of its use, those who are less experienced are also less likely to make a mess using sealant tape.
On the other hand, even tape requires some level of skill – you can’t just simply wrap it around the end of the pipe. This way you risk the breaking down of the tape over time, as the tape is most likely made out of small threads.
To avoid this, you must wrap the tape by following the thread (clockwork).
That being said, most experienced technicians usually advise coupling pipe dope with metal fittings and Teflon tape on plastics. These tips sometimes vary, as users still have different preferences.
Keep on reading to find out more about what types of sealants go with what pipe material.
Pipe dope vs Teflon tape: Comparison
- Pipe thread sealant for gas
This type of challenge usually comes to us when we’re in the need of fixing our oven or a stove in the kitchen. Believe it or not, fixing gas pipes is not only a matter of screwing stuff together with some tools. Having gas pipes sealed tightly is as important as having water pipes sealed properly – you don’t want any leakage in either case!
Now, this is a tricky one, as both Teflon tape and adhesive compound go equally well with gas pipes.
The only difference is that that Teflon tape comes in different shades, each for a specific purpose. The one specifically made for gas piping is in yellow, but there are many other different ones with other purposes. Choosing the one in the right color is of utmost importance.
On the other hand, if you don’t like exploring further and usually stick to the simpler stuff proven to work, go for the dope sealant compound in this case.
- Teflon tape or pipe dope on brass fittings
In most cases, brass pipes have rubber gaskets, so it’s needless to say it’s not possible to use Teflon tape in that scenario. In other cases, it’s safe to use sealing tape on brass fittings. However, you still have to be aware of the proper direction in which you will be wrapping the tape around the threads (clockwise, in most cases).
Most will find brass pipes harder to tighten than for example the steel ones. You can use the pipe dope on brass fittings too, with no worries. We could say it’s even slightly safer to use them instead of tape in the case of brass piping, just because it can sometimes happen that wrapping too much tape leaves the open risk for it being harder or even impossible to connect pipes with this mistake.
- Pipe dope on plastic threads
Earlier in the article, we mentioned how plastic threads usually go better with Teflon tape, and pipe dope goes better with metal fittings. As we go further in this topic and now know more about each sealant, questions arise about why is it probably not the safest idea to combine pipe dope with plastic-on-plastic fittings. Therefore, let’s break this down.
Typically, if one uses Teflon tape instead of pipe dope on all-plastic fittings, it’s mostly because they want to avoid two mistakes. One is getting messy with the adhesive, and the second one is combining the adhesive compound and plastic thread that doesn’t go well with each other.
It’s in most cases that the dope will overly lubricate the plastic and lead to the breaking of the fittings, so tape users seek to avoid this problem.
Using pipe dope on plastic threads is avoided for the simple reason of attaching pipes too tightly as the fittings get too slick. This can create an overly tight fit that can break down later on.
However, what most users do for all-plastic fittings is to combine both tape and pipe dope.
Teflon tape vs Pipe dope: The Winner
Overall, we can say the slightly better one is the old-school pipe dope, as it‘s handy and more accessible for the larger audience.
However, the winner, in this case, is largely determined by the piping material, and after that, with your personal preference.
For the ones who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, pipe dope might be the way to go. For the other ones, who pay more attention to detail and follow the manual letter-by-letter, it won’t be hard to choose the right colored tape for the right piping.