All About Thread Seal Tape

All About Thread Seal Tape

Feb 19th 2024

Thread seal tape, also known as Teflon tape or PTFE tape, is used to create a tighter seal when connecting two pipes, threaded connections, or fittings. It is a simple yet powerful tape with several applications, which makes irrigation and plumbing projects easier. Every homeowner will need this handy tape at some point, so keep it in your toolbox. When choosing the tape or sealing material, it is important to understand how it works and how to use it.

Do you know how to use Teflon tape and where to use it? This is crucial to know if you are planning to use this thread seal tape for a DIY project. If misused, the tape can cause leaks.

This guide will teach you all the need-to-know information about thread seal tape. Let's dive into the details.

What is Thread Sealant Tape, also known as Teflon Tape?

Thread sealant tape, commonly referred to as PTFE or thread-sealing tape, is a sturdy adhesive tape used in many applications, usually involving piping. It is widely known by its trademark name, "Teflon Tape." The tape is a polymer made up of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This sealing tape works as a filler that fills the gap between threads to create a secure seal to prevent leaks.

You can find the Teflon tape in various sizes in local hardware stores. One excellent feature of this PTFE tape is that it has low friction, and it is water-repellant. Every plumber, landscaper, or homeowner who does DIY irrigation projects must have Teflon tape with other irrigation tools.

Different Names for Teflon Tape and the History Behind Its Name

You may not find a tape called Teflon tape on store shelves; instead, it is commonly labeled thread sealing tape, plumber's tape, PTFE tape, or thread seal tape. Historically, Teflon is the brand name for PTFE material. DuPont, the manufacturing company of Teflon, has never built the product as tape. Other tape manufacturing companies started using Teflon to create their thread sealant tapes and included the trademarked ingredient on the product's packaging. They were only allowed to use the brand name if their products contained actual Teflon. Since then, plumber's or thread-sealing tape has been called Teflon tape.

Other names for Teflon tape that you can ask for in the store include:

  • PTFE tape
  • Plumber's tape
  • Thread seal tape
  • Thread sealant tape
  • Thread-sealing tape

All these terms refer to the same tape.

Different Types of Thread Sealing Tape and Their Uses

Thread seal tape comes in different types and is designed for different applications. The default and basic thread sealing tape is white. However, the tape comes in several other colors to help you identify the type of pipes they work with. Color also indicates the grade of the tape because some projects require a specific grade for safety concerns. Therefore, understanding the color coding of PTFE tape is important for safety precautions.

White: Premium Thread Seal Tape

White is the standard color for PTFE tape. It is an all-rounder tape, meaning it is good to use for all basic plumbing jobs. It is robust, temperature-resistant, and chemical-resistant, with the ability to tightly seal threaded pipe connections.

Yellow: Thread Seal Tape for Gas Lines

Yellow Teflon tape is designed for gas lines of all types, such as natural gas, butane, or propane. It is a safe choice to use for gas applications.

Pink: Thread Seal Tape for Water Lines

Pink Teflon tape is color-coded specifically for water lines, so plumbers and pipefitters use it. It is highly durable compared to other standard types of seal tape.

Grey or Silver: Thread Seal Tape for Stainless Steel

This tape is used to tap up stainless steel threads. This type of Teflon tape has a high-density rating and is twice as thick as standard seal tape.

Green: Thread Seal Tape for Oxygen Lines

Green Teflon tapes are used for lines carrying oxygen. This tape is grease-free and oil-free and prevents fires.

How to Use Thread Seal Tape (Teflon Tape)

The thread seal tape is easy to use, but it's not like slapping on old duct tape. In most situations, you can apply the tape by hand, but you can also use dispenser machines depending on your project and the required amount of tape. The application technique of this tape is crucial because incorrect application will not keep your connections watertight. Also, removing thread seal tape to reapply after applying the wrong way can be difficult.

The first and foremost thing to consider for thread sealing tape is to wrap it around the pipe in the right direction. If done correctly, the pressure from threads will tighten the tape around the pipe. Otherwise, the tape can unravel, and threads will tangle, causing a poor connection that won't be waterproof. The trick is to wrap your Teflon tape around the pipe in the same direction that the pipe will turn into the fitting. This way, the tape won't unravel.

Here is a step-by-step process to use Teflon tape properly:

Step 1: Clean the ends of your pipe with a clean rag and dry it. Make sure that the male threads are debris-free.

Step 2: Place the end of Teflon tape on the second thread from the pipe's end and keep it stationary with your thumb or finger. The thread seal tape should lay flat over the threads instead of bunching up.

Step 3: Start wrapping thread seal tape around the pipe in the direction the pipe will turn.

Step 4: Keep the seal tape tight to ensure it wraps snugly onto the thread. Overlap the tape as you move away from the pipe's end.

Step 5: Wrap the seal tape 4 to 6 times around the pipe and finish near the end of the threads.

Step 6: When done, break the tape by simply gripping it tightly between thumb and forefinger and giving a sharp tug. Smooth the remaining loose end of the tape over the threads, and now the pipe is ready to enter the fitting.

Where to Use Teflon Tape

PTFE is a versatile tape that seals threaded connections and is most useful on high-pressure lines. Teflon tape is mainly used for water-related applications due to its efficient leakproof properties. However, it is durable enough to be used for various other purposes.

Here are some common places where you can use this thread seal tape.

  • Showerheads
  • Shower arms
  • Threaded tub nozzles
  • Pipe to fitting connections
  • Pipe-to-valve connections
  • Drip Irrigation Systems
  • Kitchen sink leaks
  • Gas line connections
  • Oxygen line connections

Where Not to Use Teflon Tape

Using thread seal tape on copper, PVC, PEX pipes, or the female end of connections is not recommended. You may use alternative bonding materials such as pipe dope or Teflon valve packing. In addition, don't use this tape on hydraulic or fluid power systems.

Thread sealant tape is recommended for brass fittings unless a rubber gasket is included. Also, never use PTFE tape under brass compression fitting. Moreover, you should never use another sealant material like pipe dope with Teflon tape because both can overload and affect the seal.

The Bottom Line

Thread seal tape, also known as Teflon, PTFE, or plumbers' tape, is an excellent tape for threaded piping connections. The tape works as filler and lubricant to seal the joint firmly without hardening it. When choosing Teflon tape for your DIY project, consider the type of tape, the type of material on which you will apply the tape, and other factors that may prevent the tape from successfully sealing the connection.

Additionally, always follow the manufacturer's packaging instructions while using the tape on specific fittings. You can buy thread seal tape under the names PTFE tape, Teflon tape, seal tape, plumber's tape, or thread sealant tape.