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Teflon Tape: How To Use And Choose The Right One For You - Plumb University

Teflon Tape: How To Use And Choose The Right One For You

by Trevor Woods | Last Updated: August 31, 2020

Teflon tape, properly known as “thread seal tape,” is used in the plumbing industry to seal the threads at the end of a pipe. 

Thanks to its unique construction, when used properly, Teflon tape can prevent plumbing leaks by filling the threads of pipe connections. Without it, you could end up with a mess on your hands. 

Of course, there are more uses to Teflon tape than just sealing pipe threads, and it goes by many names, too. 

What is Teflon Tape?

Teflon tape is made of polytetrafluoroethylene. That’s a mouthful, so it’s called PTFE for short. This PTFE tape comes pre-cut to a specific width and is then wound on a spool so you can decide how long your piece needs to be.

The material of Teflon tape is typically 3.5mils thick, which is comparable to the thickness of newspaper and typing paper (which vary from 2.5 to 3.5 mils in thickness).

You’ll find the tape material is stretchy, allowing you to wrap it tightly while the material is able to conform to the threads of the pipe. This tape is also water repellent, which is why it’s used in plumbing. 

Our Pick
Blue Monster PTFE Thread Sealant Tape
$6.29 ($0.05 / Foot)

Multi-purpose thread sealant tape.

Blue Monster PTFE Thread Seal Tape is a thicker, denser, general-purpose thread seal tape that comes in a monstrous 1,429" roll. That’s 5 times more tape than conventional rolls of low-density thin tapes. Fewer wraps are necessary to affect a leak-proof seal and it applies easily. No waste and no re-taping make sealing joints a breeze.

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09/25/2022 12:37 am GMT

What Are The Other Names Of Teflon Tape?

Other names for Teflon tape include plumber’s tape, PTFE tape, pipe tape, or thread tape. All of these names refer to the same thing, which is most widely known as “Teflon” tape.

You might also hear it called seal tape, PTFE thread seal tape, pipe seedling tape, yellow Teflon tape, or blue Teflon tape. Many of these names originate from branded versions of thread sealing tape that have become synonymous with this product — much like Duck Brand duct tape has become synonymous with many types of cloth tapes on the market. 

What Is Teflon Tape Used For?

For plumbers, PTFE tape is essential when sealing up pipe threads before making connections. But, thanks to its many properties, there are many professional and casual uses for it.

Just consider that it’s…

What Do The Different Colours Of Teflon Tape Mean?

In the United States, standards have been set forth to help plumbers (and everyone else) quickly distinguish between the different specifications of thread sealant tape, so be sure you choose the right color.

White Tape

White Teflon tape comes in a single density. It’s made for water pipes that measure ? inches or less. You can also find it in silver color, on occasion, which is made to match the color of the pipe. 

Red Tape

If you need something extra dense, go for red tape. Red Teflon tape is triple the density of white tape, designed for pipes of ½ to 2 inches in diameter. It’s also used for pipes that have larger joints, like water distribution pipes. Do note that, while the container is an unmistakable red, the tape itself is usually more pink in color.

Yellow Tape

With double the density of white tape, yellow PTFE tape is made for fuel lines and gas lines

Green Tape

Green Teflon tape is designed to seal pipes that carry oxygen. It’s grease-free and oil-free.

White PTFE Thread Sealant Tape
$4.99

Commercial quality for industrial or home use.

This thread sealant tape is compatible with hundreds of applications and is easy to use and remove. The tape will never harden or crack, creating a worry-free and leak-free connection.

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09/25/2022 02:56 am GMT
Yellow PTFE Thread Sealant Tape
$7.41

The perfect thread sealant tape for gas line connections!

A wide range of temperature and pressure ratings make this the ideal PTFE tape for use with solvents, chemicals, oxygen, propane, natural gas, and on food lines.

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09/25/2022 12:34 am GMT
Pink PTFE Thread Sealant Tape
$10.34

The right choice for larger threaded connections.

This PTFE tape can be used in a variety of applications including water and gas.

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09/25/2022 12:34 am GMT
Green PTFE Thread Sealant Tape
$10.70

PTFE thread sealant tape designed for sealing oxygen-based lines.

Piping systems and additional piping that use oxygen need a specialized thread tape for their sensitive system. Therefore, a thread sealant was developed in green tape for these specialty plumbing lines.

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09/25/2022 12:26 am GMT

What Are The Hazards of Incorrect Use?

When you pick the right type of Teflon tape and you use it for its intended application, you’ll find that it works extremely well. However, misuse can lead to some problems.

While Teflon tape and electrical tape seem similar when you see them on the spool in the store, they’re actually very different from each other. Electrical tape gets super sticky after it warms up a couple of times. 

Teflon tape actually has no adhesive properties whatsoever. it would also do a poor job of shielding you from electrical shock, so don’t use them interchangeably. 

How To Use And Apply Teflon Tape Correctly

Applying Teflon tape may seem simple enough, but since it has no adhesive properties, you have to make sure you wrap it in the right direction and in the right spot or you could end up with a balled-up mess. Here the steps to follow to wrap PTFE tape properly and get a leak-free seal.

  1. Find the male threads at the end of the pipe. Clean them with a clean dry rag
  2. Take the end of your plumber’s tape and place it on the second thread from the pipe’s end. Hold it there with your finger or thumb. The tape should sit flat over the threads and not bunch up. Extend it perpendicularly to the length of the pipe.
  3. Start wrapping the tape around the pipe, going in the opposite direction that the pipe will be turned when you’re connecting it to the other pipe you’re working with. 
  4. Keep tension on the tape, ensuring that it is snugly wrapped around the pipe. As you overlap the tape, work gradually away from the end of the pipe to completely cover the threads.
  5. In total, you should wrap the tape around the pipe 4 to 6 times. Finish near the end of the threads, opposite from the pipe’s end. Don’t overwrap the tape too much as that will hinder your ability to connect the pipes securely.
  6. Grip the tape with your thumb and forefinger, then pull it sharply to break the end of the tape from the spool when you’re finished wrapping. It should break easily.
  7. Smooth the loose end of the tape over the threads so nothing is sticking up or bunched up. You can now put the pipe into its fitting, Done! 

Pro Tips

Keep the first two threads of pipe free of any PTFE tape. This will allow the pipe to engage the fitting and easily start your connection.


After you are done wrapping your thread sealant tape you can use a fingernail or the edge of the spool to chase the threads and flatten the tape. This will prevent any bunching or binding when you tighten up the pipe.


Cut off the excess tape on the remaining exposed threads at connections that you can see. This will keep your work looking extra-professional at shower head connections or exposed plumbing underneath pedestal sinks.

Conclusion

A few wraps of thread sealant tape is all it takes to make a leak-free connection! If you follow these steps, you’ll find that Teflon tape is a breeze to use and does its job well.

Of course, if you’re ever in doubt about how to apply it or what kind you should be using, consider reaching out to a professional to answer your questions. They’ll make sure the job is done right so you don’t have to deal with the headache of a leak down the road. 

Happy Plumbing!

Trevor Woods is the founder of Plumb University® and he started in the plumbing and construction industry in 1997. Since then, his mission is to make plumbing repair and maintenance easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with their plumbing installation, care, and troubleshooting.