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How to Properly Apply Teflon Tape

Posted by Tape Jungle on 02/26/2021

How to Appropriately Apply Pipe Thread Teflon Tape

Teflon tape, which is often called thread seal tape or PTFE tape, is a film tape used in plumbing work to create a tighter and deeper seal when screwing or connecting two pieces of piping. When applied correctly, Teflon tape will help reduce leaks and keep out dirt or dust by filling any gaps between the pipe’s threads.

It is not difficult to apply PTFE tape, but it is important to apply it correctly, so it has the desired effect and keeps the two pieces locked tightly together without letting any water come through. Luckily, it's easy and quick to spot an error and simple to remove and reapply the Teflon tape if needed.

  • Step 1: The first step is to clean your pipe and connecting piece, making sure to remove any dirt or dust.
  • Step 2: Next pay attention to the direction of the threading on the pipe, as you will want to apply the tape in the opposite direction of the twist of the connecting pipe. When the pipe is facing you, this will be a clockwise application.
  • Step 3: Once you have determined the direction for your application, peel the tape from the spool and line it up to the second line of the threading. By lining it up here, instead of at the top of the pipe, it will be easier for your connecting piece to lock in to your pipe.
  • Step 4: Wrap the tape clockwise, tightly, but without pulling too hard such that the threads are strained. With each full rotation of the pipe, move the PTFE Teflon tape down so that it overlaps half of the previous layer.
  • Step 5: Wrap three full rotations and ensure the tape is flat to the surface without any gaps. It is important not to overwrap your pipe, as too much thickness can prevent a tight seal, so stick with three full rotations to start.
  • Step 6: Rip or cut the tape when you are done and smooth the edges of the tap firmly to the pipe with your fingertips.

You can now apply the connecting piece. To test your work, check to see if there is any bunching or twisting of your Teflon tape. If you have applied the tape in the wrong direction, you can expect the connecting piece to catch the tape and work against it as it is screwed on. If applied in the correct direction, there will be no bunching or twisting and your connecting piece will turn easily and without friction. If you’ve applied the tape incorrectly, simply remove the connecting piece, remove the tape and try again, this time wrapping the Teflon tape in the opposite direction following the steps above.

Your next step is to check for any leaks. If you spot a small leak, try tightening your connecting piece with a wrench and retesting. If the leak continues, you may need to tighten the tape or add an additional layer of tape. Always check your work to be sure that you have created a water-tight, insulated seal between the two pieces.

Applying PTFE Tape

Also known as thread seal tape, Teflon tape, or plumber’s tape, PTFE tape is short for polytetrafluoroethylene tape. The most standard industry term for plumber’s tape is thread seal tape or thread-sealing tape.

Plumber’s tape can be used on some gas-pipe connections, but this requires a special type of plumber’s tape, typically colored yellow, that is rated for gas lines. It can also be used on all standard metal pipe materials as well as rigid plastic pipe.

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Some of the more common places we’ve seen plumber’s tape used include:

  • Shower arms
  • Showerheads
  • Threaded tub spouts
  • Kitchen sink leaks
  • Pipe-to-coupling connections
  • Pipe-to-valve connections
  • Temporary fixes for vehicles

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