Butyl tape and putty tape are the two most popular types of tape that are used in home repairs and vehicle maintenance.
Although many think these tapes serve the same purpose, they actually differ in pricing, surface adhesion, durability, and flexibility—with one being better than the other.
Granted, they both are easy to use, versatile, and can be used for similar problems at times; butyl tape is more expensive and excels in sealing areas in RVs, campervans, mobile homes, and many other vehicles. Putty tape is being used more often for plumbing issues.
To learn more about these two tapes and when and how to use them, here’s the breakdown of butyl tape vs. putty tape you should go through.
What is Butyl Tape?
Butyl tape is a pliable, solvent-based sealant with a strong initial tack. It can bond to most surfaces—including those where moisture is present and can create a problem.
Some of these surfaces where the butyl tape adhesion is excellent include glass, plastic, aluminum, galvanized metal, fiberglass, rubber roofing, wood, etc.
Butyl tape, when applied correctly (on a clean, dust-free surface), provides an excellent airtight and waterproof barrier between the substrate and the tape while maintaining durability and flexibility despite extreme temperatures and other environmental conditions.
Since the taping does not dry out quickly and lasts for years, it saves you time and money on expensive repairs and future installations.
Butyl tapes, when exposed to chemicals, gasoline, turpentine, mineral oil, etc., tend to weaken with time. So, it’s not recommended to use the taping on surfaces that come into contact with any of these chemicals.
It’s also believed that the toxic chemicals present in some butyl tapes could be hazardous with long-term exposure.
What is Putty Tape – How it’s Different?
Putty tape sealant is a rubber-based product used primarily for sealing plumbing joints. However, it can also be used to block off roof leaks temporarily.
It’s similar to butyl tape and is essentially a pliable roll of putty with removable backing paper that can easily be used to fix a plumbing crack and create a waterproof seal on surfaces such as glass, metal, plastic, and wood.
If you want your putty tape to stick, make sure to apply it to a clean and dry surface. If the tape starts oozing, don’t worry; simply use a plastic knife or credit card to trim off the excess without damaging the surface beneath.
Although putty tape comes at a lower price, the main drawback is it can dry out quickly, which affects the integrity of the seal. This means the jobs done with this type of tape only last for about a year before needing to reseal.
Since this tape is petroleum-based, it also leaches chemicals that can damage an EPDM rubber roof.
Why is Butyl Tape Prefered More than Putty Tape?
Although it has a few drawbacks, butyl tape is still beloved by do-it-yourselfers and construction pros.
It seals the flanges on roof vents for RVers and can seal the cracked parts of your motorhomes, travel trailers, boats, and cars, even when they are exposed to quick movements and vibrations.
Butyl tape also protects exposed wood, such as joists and beams, from moisture damage in your home.
To get a tight seal and prevent moisture penetration, molds, rust, and rot damage, you can also use these taping materials on heating ducts, windows with odd curves, and deck screws, bolts, and fasteners.
The Bottom Line
The key to understanding which tape – putty or butyl – is best for the job lies in evaluating what kind of repair or construction you’re dealing with.
If it’s a quick fix that doesn’t need to last long, the cheaper version of putty tape should do the trick. Though in most cases, butyl tape trumps it because this tape is more flexible, stretchable, and less likely to dry out.
Butyl’s increased strength and ability to withstand time make it ideal for anyone needing a reliable solution. It won’t crack (when moved) and will stay put on whatever surface you use it on.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.